June 27, 2011
Driving the GTI again this past weekend reminded me why so many people have different impressions of this car. I've spent most of my time driving the GTI in the city. In that environment, the suspension has always felt remarkable comfortable given its low-profile tires.
Get on a broken and rutted freeway like the 405 here in L.A. and it's a different story. More than once this weekend I felt like I was behind the wheel of a Nissan GT-R. At highway speeds, the GTI feels considerably less compliant. Those 40-series tires suddenly feel more like they look as every crack comes through to the interior. It's not quite as awful as the GT-R, but it's still more road intrusion than your average hatchback. I don't mind it that much, makes the car feel a little more serious. Wouldn't be surprised if other didn't agree though.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com
June 17, 2011
Should it? What do you think? Are we right or wrong?
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
March 17, 2011
"Dude, dude, hey Jacobs... Dude." That's the problem showing up to a friends party really late. I'm driving, I'm not drinking, and my friend's had way too much bad wine long before I arrived.
"What are you driving right now to make me jealous?" my buddy asks while taking a hold of my shoulder, like we're sharing some kind of secret. "The GTI" I replied.
"Chsh!" He blurts out, waving his index finger in a disapproving manner over the red cup clenched in his right hand. "No, no way, no... Wait, what are you driving?"
Trying to explain something to a drunk is a tough, uphill battle. Reason cannot be used in such circumstances. Hard data is useless as well, especially when he retorts with "So what. My cousin's vintage Camaro will smoke your (s-box)." The drunk would never concede, even if your car was jet powered. No, the only argument you can make a roasted comrade truly understand is an emotional one.
I explained to him that the steering wheel has an excellent shape so you can really take control when taking a turn hard. It feels like you have the reins of a galloping horse. The seats are supportive, but you still comfortably sink into them with g-forces. The engine is a hoot from a stop light and responds with a nice crisp roar that only gets better as the turbo kicks in. The best part for me though is the shifter and clutch combo. I can easily throw the gears from one gate to another and the comfortable catch point of the clutch makes blip shifting a snap.
The GTI compliments my driving style very well. I feel like a better driver. In my book, it's simply a great car.
My friend stood there, slowly nodding his head with squinted eyes and "I totally get ya" pursed lips. He then pulled back like he had some revelation, "Yeah, but what color is it?"
"It's white" I replied. "CHSCH!"
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
January 31, 2011
So why a photo of the side of the GTI's driver seat? Cause after driving other cars in the short- and long-term fleets recently, with nearly everyone of them having power adjustments, I found it kinda charming that that the GTI makes you do it yourself. Nothing revolutionary, of course. Plenty of cars in the low/mid-$20k's lack power adjustments. And it's an interior mechanism that certainly has some history in the brand.
But it is one of those things that, when taken together with the car's other quirks, give the car some soul. Yeah, I know it's a glib, overused characterization, but it fits the experience of driving a GTI.
January 11, 2011
Though the GTI is generally pretty accommodating, a few of us have already noted the generously padded driver seat isn't a perfect fit for shorter folks. Still, it's well-shaped and would likely be fine for the shorties if the bottom cushion wasn't quite as long and the front end (not just the rear) could be lowered. But it was the sliding center armrest that got my attention recently. In its normal position, it's too far back to rest my elbow on, leaving my shifting arm hanging in the breeze. Pulled towards the front, it worked like a charm, providing support while not intruding upon the shifting process.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 19,364 miles.
January 07, 2011
Our 2010 Volkswagen GTI is closing in on the end of its 12-month term and already there are those of us lining up for one last drive before it departs.
This is not the usual thing around here. After 12 months, almost anything (or anyone) starts to look tiresome.
So the question is, what is it that lets the GTI cut across the preferences of so many people? Speed? Comfort? Design? Heritage? Economy? Price? Plaid seats?
All of the above.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 19,312 miles
December 30, 2010
I love driving with the windows open in most every car I get my hands on, but I'm reluctant to open them up too far on the GTI. Because the front windows are so long, when they're open, they let in a lot of fresh air, which is good. What's bad, however, is there's no good way to get most of that air back out; to flow through the car and exit before it starts whipping up a ton of turbulence and noise.
What the GTI needs, as most other coupes and hatchbacks need as well (I'm looking at you Volvo C30), are rear-quarter windows that pop out.
December 29, 2010
I love the holidays for several reasons, gifts not being in the top 10. There are several excellent chefs in the family that love to cook for everyone. It's nice to be able to kick back without having to do much, except watch bowl games and playoffs. Thing I really dislike is all the driving.
Even though my girl and I live in LA, both of our family's live about 30 minutes apart in the SF Bay Area. That means splitting Thanksgiving, Christmas, all the family stuff in between when we're up north. Lots and lots of driving.
I had the GTI. Was the hatch up to the task?
I don't know if I can be more emphatic in saying: YES!!! I put over 1,500 miles on GTI over the Christmas+ weekend. It was a complete and utter joy to drive.
For me, it starts with the seats. I dig them. They are very comfortable. Yes the dial adjustment can be a bit of a pain for passengers, but for the driver you can fine tune in the perfect angle. I even got plenty of compliments from passengers on the seat cloth pattern. Most thought they were pretty cool.
Next is the engine. It's got power and the ability to quickly ramp up to blow past all the holiday traffic that has turned their brains off cruzing under the speed limit in the fast lane. Around town, it had all the power you'd want to enter freeways, have a little fun at the stop light and whatever else you want. I just wished it wasn't so muffled under the all the sound deadening. A little growl from the tiger under the hood is a nice touch for me.
The most important factor to me, however, was the ride. I know some folks on staff thought this to be not a true sport hatch suspension and was too soft. Well, ok, it isn't a true race tune. But after two 390 mile runs on the interstate, I appreciated not being kicked in the kidneys for every crack and crevasse I rolled over. It was super comfortable. I think it's a good compromise between the spectrums of all out sport and all out living.
Lastly, it actually gets pretty good fuel mileage! Great for all the driving I had to do over the holiday weekend. I was averaging 27.8 mpg. That's a very impressive figure to me for such such a sporty hatchback.
The more I drive the GTI, the more I love it. It's a great balance of sport and everyday driving to make you a very happy owner.
Scott Jacobs @ 18,982 miles
December 20, 2010
The pic above shows what the view looked like from behind the wheel of the GTI over the weekend: Rain, rain and more rain.
Non-stop rainstorms did little to dampen the GTI's spirits. It felt nimble and secure even when the water was ankle-deep on the road and its soothing heated seats kept me mellow and calm even when faced with the most egregious cases of poor wet-weather driving. I also appreciated its compact size and relatively small turning circle that one time when I had to make a quick, sharp turn to nab the last remaining spot in a parking lot packed to capacity with the vehicles of holiday shoppers.
One thing about the rain, though, is that when you've got inches of water of the streets, you can't see the potholes. And if you can't see them, you can't avoid them. Ouch. That's one stiff suspension.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 17,612 miles
December 03, 2010
I appreciate seats that provide proper support for the back and thighs. Hefty side bolsters that hold one in place during spirited driving are also nice to have. In the case of the GTI, there is thigh support a-plenty...perhaps too much. The generous seat bottom cushion is a bit long and it's also rather plump at its front edge. This is great...for those who are long of limb. For me and my shorter legs (29" inseam) it feels kind of like a rolled up towel behind my knees. I can appreciate VW's effort, but would prefer a shorter cushion with an adjustable thigh support so that short, long and medium legs can all be comfortably accommodated.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 17,066 miles
November 12, 2010
Driving stick I encounter gearshifters of all shapes and sizes. There's the 8-ball of the Mini, the pistol-grip of the Challenger and the top-heavy one belonging to the Z06. But out of all the ones I've come across, the 2010 Volkswagen GTI's shifter is one of the most comfortable.
I know you're not supposed to grab hold of the shifter but rather push and pull it, but sometimes I just like to rest my hand on it, you know, like while waiting at a light. And I like how it's shaped so that my fingers just fall over the top of it allowing the pads of my fingertips to very comfortably touch the backside of the shifter. Fits perfectly in my hand. Then again, my hands are smallish.
Which gearshifter is your favorite?
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
November 01, 2010
I've spent a fair chunk of time with our long-term GTI this year. I've used it for a couple road trips (Yosemite and San Francisco) and driven it on one of my preferred curvy roads. Between all that, it's been a trusty urban runabout and commuter. Basically, I've done just about everything the typical owner would do. And yep, it's a pretty great car. So today I compiled my top five favorite and least favorite GTI attributes based on my time with the car.
October 22, 2010
Normally when we complain about a coupe's cramped backseat, it's related to the people who have to sit back there. But it can literally be a pain for a parent, too, if he or she is having to constantly act like a contortionist to strap a child into a safety seat.
Not that most parents would willingly choose a coupe as a family vehicle (though I remember Editor Karl Brauer's wife drove his '70 Plymouth GTX as a family vehicle for a while). But the extensive headroom and world's best easy-slide seat in our long-term GTI (see, you knew I'd get to a point here eventually) makes this process a lot easier. And as a card-carrying member of the parent club, I'll state that it's greatly appreciated.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
October 07, 2010
I put a quick 200 highway miles on our long-term 2010 Volkswagen GTI yesterday and was reminded again just how good this car is on the highway. If the GTI feels a bit out of sorts on back roads, it's perfectly home at 70+ on the interstate.
The suspension/tire package results in a neatly composed ride, and there's still enough compliance to smother out the bad patches of pavement. In addition, we drove through heavy rain, and the Dunlop all-season tires channeled the water well.
The other thing driver and passenger noticed was the low level of cabin noise. We still need to have a TSB performed on the leaky driver door seal, both otherwise, the cabin is incredibly well insulated from wind and road roar for a car in this price range. Even the wipers were quiet. It was so serene and relaxing that we turned off the radio and just talked.
So why haven't I taken a road trip in our GTI yet? Time for some paid time off.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 14,032 miles
October 05, 2010
When I loaded my stuff into our long-term 2010 Volkswagen GTI last night, I noticed the seats were folded down. I'm on the retentive side of the range and I won't drive around in a hatchback with the seats folded unless I'm actually hauling boxes. So before anything, the seats had to go back up.
My first idea was to go around to the hatch and try to pull the seats up that way. But of course I couldn't reach them, because the hatch area is kind of big, even though it's supposedly only 12.4 cubic feet in capacity. Also, there are no straps or handles on the seats to help you get a hand on them... not that there usually are in compact hatches, but the last time I dealt with folded seats I was driving a minivan, so...
Enter the front seats' easy-entry feature: It's well executed on this car -- as it should be on any three-door hatch or coupe in this price range. However, Volkswagen seems to do it better than anyone else. The front doors open up to about 88 degrees, and the seats smoothly and easily tilt forward and out of the way. I took one step into the backseat and, within seconds, the rear seats were back in place. I could seriously see using the 3-door GTI if I had toddlers in the backseat, but since there's a 5-door version available, I probably wouldn't actually go through with that.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor
September 17, 2010
A fog settled over West Los Angeles last night, but our 2010 Volkswagen GTI burned right through it. That sounds like an attempt at bad poetry. What I mean to say is that this car is stunning. Really stunning. On the walk back to the foggy parking lot, I was thrilled that this was my car for the evening.
I've gone on record many times as a lover of almost anything with the silhouette of a hatchback, and the GTI's shape is no exception. But the three-door VW GTI is just a little bit more special because of the B-pillar black-out effect at night. I've talked about how the five-door GTI might fit into my future life, practical considerations and all, but it's never going to look this good.
Another thing I find interesting about our GTI is that I can drive it the night after the Mazdaspeed 3 and like it, maybe just as much, for completely different reasons.
It's a more sedate driving experience for sure (though heel-and-toe downshifting is still fun), but the VW feels like a luxury car compared to the Mazda -- and indeed compared to most other cars you can buy for about $25,000. I'd never have thought to seek out a hot hatch that wants to be a luxury car, but when I stumble upon it, it's kind of cool.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 13,200 miles
September 16, 2010
It's no secret that I love seat heaters but...dare I say it, our 2010 Volkswagen GTI's are too hot for me, even through jeans. And that's saying a lot considering I always pick the highest setting on any seat heater. Then when I choose the medium setting in the VW it's not warm enough. I always end up checking the button to make sure it's even activated.
To give you an idea of what I mean, since I don't have Mike Schmidt's nifty gadget (I want one!), if we were talking summer days, the highest setting would feel like a 115-degree day, unbearable. The medium setting feels like a 65-degree day, lukewarm.
Solution? Switch back and forth from high to medium.
But that's just my opinion. Chief Scott Oldham and his wife think the heaters "rock."
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 13,118 miles
September 14, 2010
There has been considerable discussion in this forum about the tires on our GTI. Shockingly enough, those paper thin 40-Series tires you see here are not the most aggressive meats you can get. The optional summer tires are a bit stickier, and would conceivably provide more grip and improved handling.
That would be great and all, but I'm okay with this car as it is. I'm actually shocked that the car rides as well as it does with such minimal sidewall cushion. Maybe the summer tires would be just as comfortable, maybe not. All I know is that when I drive the GTI it doesn't put me in the mindset for canyon carving. Seems more at home just ripping around town.
Now I'm sure that with a few minor tweaks the GTI could tear into corners as well as our Miata, okay, nearly as well as our Miata, but then it would be miserable the other 99% of the time. Forget that. If I wanted an Evo I would buy one. The GTI is no Evo, and it doesn't bother me a bit.
Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 13,123 miles
September 13, 2010
Brain fade. That's my only explanation for leaving our 2010 Volkswagen GTI's sunroof open overnight.
I don't usually open sunroofs - I'm not a big fan. But 6'6" Kellan and I were remarking how the sunroof doesn't come close to impinging on his headroom, even though it's the kind that sucks down into the headliner rather than moving up and out.
I got lucky. No rain. Too little relative humidity for morning dew. The seats weren't damp at all. And the neighborhood cats didn't drop in for a nap, or worse.
As for the GTI's sunroof, this is one car where tall guys don't have to avoid the option to get that extra little bit of head clearance.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 13,031 miles
September 13, 2010
Last week The Riz went on about the supposed height of the German people and the general suitability of a 2010 VW GTI for tall people. But he left out one important bit: the actual opinion of a tall person. Oh, sure. James and I are both 6' 2", but that's not really tall.
In fact, when I sit in the GTI, I don't need to slam the seat all the way back and all the way down, as I usually do. In this car, that's way too low and way too far back. There's more here for taller folks.
A couple of genuinely tall people live near me. Mike (6'5") owns the house down the street. He drives an older BMW 7-series with a seat track modified for more rearward travel. Apparently there's a stopper bolt you can remove and reinstall in another hole further back, or something like that. I borrowed a pruning saw from him this weekend, and we got to talking about the VW Golf and our 2010 Volkswagen GTI long-term test vehicle.
"Go ahead. Sit in it. You'll be surprised," I said.
He did, and he was. Plenty of seat travel, plenty of downward seat movement in the adjustable-height seat. Telescopic wheel.
"I'm looking to downsize. I don't really need a backseat. This really fits. And they have that TDI diesel, too," said Mike.
"The 2-door body is the key," I pointed out. "That pillar sits farther back, and that gives you a lot of room to get in. Plus, the seatbelt lays better across your shoulder. And the pillar doesn't block your view to the side."
"All of that is a problem in my BMW," he agreed.
And then there's 6'6" Kellan (shown), a 15-year old who is about to pull his learner's permit. Car-wise, he and his mom don't really know where to start.
September 09, 2010
Our long-term GTI proves once again that the Germans know how to make a driving position for tall people. It shouldn't really come as a surprise considering that the average German male is 5 foot 10 tall (the average woman is 5 foot 5 and the average German 19-year-old male is 5 foot 11 1/2). If you were a bunch of tall, German Volkswagen engineers, wouldn't you want your car to fit you and your countrymen?
The GTI's provides lots of under thigh support by plunging the seat downward in back, while keeping the front elevated. The steering wheel then telescopes far out allowing for an ideal elbow bend. As a bonus, the flat-bottom wheel can be placed lower since there's less rim to interfere with the driver's lanky legs. The shifter also falls perfectly at hand. I love it and this is all without power adjustable anything.
I've heard some of our shorter editors complain that they don't fit comfortably in the GTI. Well, I'm sorry about that, but given that they fit in virtually everything else, I won't be striking up the violins. I would suggest checking out the Mazdaspeed 3, which I'm not particularly comfortable in. Not that that should come as a surprise either given that the average Japanese 19 year old is 5 foot 7.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 12,870 miles
September 08, 2010
See that knob at the intersection of the seatback and seat bottom? It makes the GTI's seatback angle infinitely adjustable. Which is good for those who insist on a carefully arranged vertical driving postion like myself. And it's superior to traditional indexed seatback adjusters (like that in, say, the Mazdaspeed 3), which offer only a finite number of positions.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
September 07, 2010
Have you ever attempted entry to the backseat of a two door hatchback and the seatbelt tried to strangle you?
Well our long-term 2010 VW GTI may prevent such asphyxiation. The lower end of the belt is attached to a rod that lets the belt slide fore and aft, allowing both proper belt positioning and access to the rear seat. It's clever and convenient.
As a bonus, that rod is made of metal, a nice quality touch.
Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 12,600 miles
August 23, 2010
I took our VW GTI to San Francisco for a getaway over the weekend. And I have to say, the GTI is my favorite long-term car for road trips. It was ideal for San Francisco -- sporty to look at and drive, a peppy turbo-4 for squirting through traffic, easy to park, plenty of suspension compliance for SF's rough roads, reasonably quiet on the freeway, 30 mpg fuel economy, and an ideal size for two people and a weekend's worth of stuff.
A small group of pictures from San Francisco follow after the jump.
August 13, 2010
I do like our long-term VW GTI quite a bit, so it's pretty easy to think about it from an ownership standpoint. But then I've wondered: If I owned one, would I modify it? The interesting thing is that while I can readily identify where the GTI is deficient, addressing those deficiencies would likely alter the characteristics that make the GTI appealing in the first place.
More power? Well, maybe 10 or 20 hp wouldn't hurt. (Does it ever?) But beyond that, I'd be afraid that the GTI would encounter same the issues that the 263-hp Mazdaspeed 3 does. Crank up the boost? No thanks.
Stiffer suspension? This is a tricky one. If I installed lowering springs and firmer dampers, no doubt the GTI would be more fun to drive aggressively. But how far to go? A really sport-oriented setup would likely degrade the GTI's daily-driver quality. But if I was only doing something mild, why bother spending money on it?
Tires and wheels? This is where making upgrades would have payoffs with minimal liabilities. As we learned from the suspension walkaround, those wheels are kind of heavy. Lighter wheels and summer tires would be on the docket if owned our GTI.
Think I'm wrong? Anything else you'd do?
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
August 11, 2010
The GTI's seats have gotten more than their fair share of seat discussion these past six months. Having just read through all of them to freshen up my memory, I'd sum it all up with this public service announcement: Driver seat comfort and positioning in the GTI is noticeably better for taller drivers than shorter drivers. The seat heaters rock. The rear seat is impressively roomy.
What more could I possibly add? Well, I will mention that the GTI does have an expansive amount of front headroom. That's probably a contributor on why tall and lanky people (or those fond of wearing a sombrero) seem to like it. It also means that if you normally prefer to raise the driver seat up high in your car, you can go crazy in the GTI since there's so much area to work with. Going up high also lets you see the front end of the car, which is helpful for parking.
August 05, 2010
We've been over this ground an awful lot, but for anyone keeping tabs on the ongoing "does the long-term 2010 VW GTI turn your crank" discussion, I'm in Mr. Jacquot's camp.
I like commuting in it. It's smooth, quiet, reasonably taut and has decent squirt. The cabin is quite nice. It's got absolutely heaps of headroom, which I dig since I'm 6'1" and all torso. I don't like driving it with enthusiasm, though, because the handling is a letdown once you dial up the entry speeds. Anything more than 6/10ths is an exercise in frustration, what with the squooshy turn-in, custard-filled brake pedal and killjoy non-defeat ESP.
It could be that simply changing to summer tires would sharpen the turn-in, but it'd take a reflash or enabling a secret-handshake diagnostic mode (up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A-Start) to tackle the crappy ESP situation. I'd love to see if those changes alone (plus some sort of rejiggered brake master cylinder and/or booster?) could make all the difference in transforming my opinion of the GTI from a tepid "meh" to "hell yeah."
Oh, and the wheels are tacky. So there.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor.
July 29, 2010
As I've previously mentioned, I took our long-term 2010 VW GTI to San Francisco and Laguna Seca last weekend for the MotoGP race. Our GTI is the only really small car in our long-term fleet that I would care to drive to SF. I covered 1200 mostly highway miles in 6th with the A/C on about half the time. I got 27.6 mpg overall on the required 91 Premium. Not bad.
The GTI has an excellent ride/handling balance, and perhaps the best ride I can think of in a subcompact car: no wallow, excellent impact damping, no harshness at all. And the handling is decent, but not as sharp of course as, say, an STI.
The steering is great too: good feel build-up, pretty accurate, and no dead spots. I think only once did I get a hint of torque steer during a quick start; otherwise, nothing. The engine power is OK and I was able to pull most grades in 6th.
It's relatively quiet for a small car, but I did experience some hellacious wind noise from the driver's window when some gale force winds kicked up. The noise died along with the wind.
However, the lack of storage space and only a single 12V outlet in the front area are annoying.
Would I buy this car myself? Perhaps. I'd certainly recommend it.
Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,200 miles (Hit the jump for some MotoGP video.)
July 21, 2010
Sure, our 2010 Volkswagen GTI is fun to drive and all that but what is up with the driver seat? Why does it tilt like that so your rear is hanging lower than your knees? And, yes, there have been other editors who commented on the comfort of the seat but then again they're all tall, well, except for news editor Kelly Toepke who's my height but with long legs. I, on the other hand, being 5'5" with short legs can't get comfortable behind the wheel no matter how low I make the seat and how close to the steering wheel I get. My knees hang right over the end of the seat so I'm basically tippy-toeing on the clutch. And by the time I get the seat angled and positioned where I can work the clutch comfortably, I'm right up against the wheel. Boo.
Josh Jacquot's wife, who's 5'4", faced the same issue when she got behind the wheel so I know it's not just me. Any other short GTI drivers out there who have the same issue...or no issue with the driver seat?
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor
July 19, 2010
Much has been said about the comfort and support of the seats in our 2010 VW GTI (here and here), but in light of our most recent criticizm of a 2010 Corvette ZR1's "noodley-ass seatback adjustment lever," I thought I'd propose to GM a simple fix: the rotary adjustment wheel with its infinite, micro adjustability, space-saving packaging, and intuitive operation. And the seatback doesn't wiggle either.
July 06, 2010
In addition to its polished driving demeanor, spirited performance and sharp looks, the GTI has something not all of its sport compact competition can boast about -- an accommodating rear seat. Compared to some of the economy class rear seats seen in its rivals (Mini Cooper S, Honda Civic Si) the GTI's spacious rear quarters seem like first class.
Carrying a couple of passengers back there brought this to light. The Vee-dub's tall cabin allows a high seat cushion, which in turn offers plenty of under-thigh support. The seat is well-shaped, generously padded and has an ideal backrest angle. The fold-down center armrest -- which sits up nice and high so you don't slump over when you use it -- is another perk not usually seen in this segment.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 8,250 miles
June 23, 2010
Just for giggles compare that to our 2009 Mini E hitting the same seam (0:14).
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 7,601 miles
June 21, 2010
I spent the weekend in our long-term 2010 Volkswagen GTI and I really like the well damped ride on this car. The suspension smothers most all of the ruts on decaying Los Angeles freeways, but there's not a hint of float. The ride is so good I had two (adult) passengers fall asleep in the GTI, though I think the well-shaped, well-cushioned seats had something to do with it, too.
There's very little road noise from the 225/40R18 92H Dunlop SP Sport 01 tires mounted at each corner, resulting in an incredibly serene cabin for a warm-hot hatch. That's probably why I notice the wind noise. At highway speeds, there's a consistent low whistle at my left ear, and after consultation with my front passenger (when he was awake), the same thing is happening on the passenger side. It's a minor problem, but now that I've noticed it, I'm fixated on the GTI's imperfectly-sealing door seals. Ugh.
At this point, I'm not convinced the seals are bad. Rather, I think this might just be how they are -- which is not to my liking. We'll keep an eye on the situation, and see if anyone else on staff notices the issue.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 7,555 miles
June 01, 2010
My typical commute streches 30 miles and ranges anywhere from 1 hour to 2-plus hours. It can be a real grind. This morning I completed the trek in our 2010 Volkswagen GTI and the hour-and-a-quarter flew right by.
Let's get right to it. The GTI is good in traffic. Comfortable seats and satellite radio are obvious reasons. But the real standout for me is the clutch. Its pedal action is light with a clear, progressive engagement point. This combination allows for impeccably smooth shifts into first gear. And if you want to break up the monotony of stop-and-go, start in second gear. It's just as easy.
Manual transmissions quickly lose their appeal in traffic. But the GTI is different. I survived the commute this morning with my sanity intact. I'd trust the VW to grant me the same patience tomorrow. If forced to face rush hour with any manual in our fleet, I would choose the GTI every time. If given the option, I would curl up under my desk and sleep until traffic lightened up.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 6,485 miles
May 26, 2010
Enough debate about the GTI's handling and its questionable track numbers, lets get down to the important stuff. That's right BTU fans, I'm talkin' 'bout the VeeDub's seat heaters.
And lets face it, Volkswagen does seat heaters right. Always has. And the GTI's are near perfection. Three levels. Quick warm up. Nice even heat distribution from the back of your knees all the way up to your tippy top of your shoulder blades.
Bottom line: Even the most demanding seat heater enthusiast (my wife) would give them an A+.
That is all.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
May 17, 2010
"I can't ride in that," my daughter said when I picked her up from school on Friday.
"Why not?," I asked impatiently.
"Because I'm wearing stripes!," she protested.
"Get in the car," I said. "Now."
Aside from her concern about the VW GTI's plaid interior clashing with her outfit, Emma and I agree that the GTI has the perfect seats for both of us--me in the front and her in the back. Sure, she's not thrilled about climbing into the back of a coupe, but once she's in, she says the seat feels like it was made for her.
I feel the same about the driver's seat. It feels like a custom fit--not too wide, not too short, perfect level of support and side bolstering.
I may have overlooked the ultra seat comfort if I hadn't just driven a Lexus LS 460 the night before. As nice a cabin as the Lexus offers, I never really got comfortable.
Couple of seat covers (and maybe two more doors) and the GTI could be my next car.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 5,708 miles
May 13, 2010
In case you missed it, there was a bit of hubbub over our track testing of the GTI last week. But I was curious to find out for myself how much the GTI could move the fun needle on an enthusiastic drive. So hopped in this morning and drove the same curving route I had done late last year in the Mazdaspeed 3.
Not surprisingly, the GTI isn't as capable. If I was really going at it, the soft suspension tuning resulted in a lot of body roll in quick transitions, and a general sense of squishi-ness (there's a technical term for you) sapped my confidence to keep pressing on. This is not the Bruce Lee of hot hatches, it's more like the Chris Farley version doing karate.
But you know, this really doesn't bother me much. The GTI is still plenty fun to drive if you've backed off to 7/10s or so. The steering is decent enough, the brake pedal has a good feel to it and the 2.0-liter turbo-4 pulls hard. The GTI sounds better than the MS3 does, too. Considering that the GTI also has the better interior, ride quality and exterior looks, it would be my pick if I had to choose between the two cars to use as my daily driver.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor
April 21, 2010
The MkVI Volkswagen GTI has been floated as a possible family car of my future, so each drive in our long-termer takes on extra significance, because I think about how it might be to spend 5 years with this car (or more likely, the 5-door version). I don't think it would be that bad.
But I'm not taken with the flat-bottom steering wheel in the GTI. I know, the previous-generation GTI had one, too. But we never had that car in our long-term test fleet. And honestly, though I like the look of the steering wheel, the flat side ends up being a minor annoyance in everyday life.
I'm a 9-and-3 person. I'm also a shuffle-steer person, meaning I adjust my hand position at about the point when my arms started to get crossed up. And the steering ratio in the 2010 GTI is such that someone like myself needs to shuffle during ordinary left turns -- the sharper ones anyway.
I don't like it when my 3 o'clock hand ends up gripping the flat part. It's a reminder that, hey, this isn't a racecar, and that flat-bottom wheels only belong in racecars with steering ratios quick enough that you never turn the wheel more than 90 degrees (give or take a few degrees) in either direction.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor
April 08, 2010
Ok, this might seem like part three of "Hot Hatch Not Found" but I got the keys to the GTI last night after Oldham saw I had the keys to a test car he wanted to take a spin it. I drove the GTI home and back and I have an opinion to weigh in on the discussion.
Yes, the clutch is vague, the shifter isn't positive and the suspension is soft. But you know what? I frankly don't care. I don't think you need a hatch to be hardcore to be fun. I do drive in traffic. I do have a regular Joe life outside of this office. I make runs to Home Depot and Bed Bath & Beyond (if I have time). I can't think of a time when I've actually wanted to take my car out to a track for weekend racing. Those people are the rarity and honestly I don't know if they'd have a stock car anyways. The GTI is for the everyday person.
What do you say? I'm soft? So what! Yeah, I'm middle aged and unapologetic about it. I appreciate the comfort the GTI offers after a grueling day of work while going though 12 miles of I-405 traffic. My shin wasn't killing me from a stiff sport clutch and the slow speed rough bumps were softened by the cushy suspension. But, on the flip side, I drove in late to work today. No traffic.
I was blip shifting like a mother trucker. I had the windows down to soak in the beautiful Spring weather we've got here in LA and I was loving the whistle of the turbo as I screamed down the road. It's quick, maybe not lightening quick, but I was swooping through the light traffic noon time West LA has to offer. The turbo spools up quick from the red light for fun launches and the broad power curve keeps the freeways interesting. Once I got near my office it felt like my Mr. Hyde turned back into Dr. Jekyll as I comfortably drove down Olympic Blvd.
As it was pointed out to me, the GTI is more mature in comparison the the Mazda Mazdaspeed3. Listen, I'm 38. I'm officially mature myself. This car, for ME, is a blast to drive. I don't need the bugs in my teeth or the cachÃ© of some high end brand to tell me I'm having fun. It's comfortable for my normal life, and capable when the congested streets of LA are open. Any time the keys are available to this gem, game on.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
March 29, 2010
Here's a problem my 5-foot, 4-inch wife ran into (literally) with the GTI today. With the seat adjusted properly for the rest of her body, her knees hit the steering column. The issue, she says, is that the seat bottom is lower at the back than at the front and isn't adjustable for angle. Naturally, she sits high and forward to properly reach the pedals and wheel.
She doesn't drive in those shoes. Relax.
Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor
March 22, 2010
There are a lot of things to like about our long-term GTI. This time around, I'll call out the Vee-dub's wonderful steering wheel. (Are you listening, Camaro designers?)
On appearances alone, it's a pretty sporty wheel. The shape of the wheel is just about perfect for my tastes - sculpted with indents for my thumbs and bulges that fill my palm for a positive grip. Whether or not it's wrapped in real leather or not, the material feels great, and the red stitching adds to the look and feel.
I'm usually a harsh critic of flat-bottomed wheels (they belong in very tight racecar cockpits with super-quick ratios), but this one doesn't bother me too much. Probably because it's not as pronounced as other examples (Audi R8) that interrupt an otherwise smooth return to center as it slides through my hands.
The buttons are well-placed, look good and have a solid and positive feel when pushed. The metal accents add an extra little panache, too. Now, if only the steering effort and feedback were as good as the wheel.
Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 2,011 miles
March 15, 2010
I climbed into our 2010 Volkswagen GTI for the first time last week. Right off the bat, I'm a big fan of the seats. My fit in the driver seat is snug and supportive. At 6'2" my lanky frame is reliant on tilt and telescopic steering wheel adjustments to find the proper seating position. There aren't many fore-aft options with the manual seat adjustor here. But thanks to the tilt/tele wheel there are plenty enough for me to find that sweet spot. Great seating.
Then there are the seat heaters. I could usually care less about these. In my experience it's always the same story: Enough warmth on my back means too much on my backside. But this time it's different. The GTI seatback heats up plenty without burning a hole through my pants. And it ranges nearly three-quarters of the way up the seatback. None of that heat my belt loops only nonsense.
What could use work? I prefer more lumbar support. This manual lumbar pillow isn't quite enough. But the seat heaters are so kickass that I can forgive the lumbar. Wow. I've definitely never been this excited about such a basic feature before. Sometimes little things go a long way. GTI gets a thumbs up from me so far. And I haven't even left my parking space yet.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 1,555 miles