June 19, 2011
G: Great powertrain. The smooth and eager turbo four also sounds great when you lean into it. And the tranny has a light, progressive clutch and a fairly slick shifter.
T: Timeless styling. This is what a hot hatch -- a vehicle that combines a spirited driving personality with the practicality of roomy passenger/cargo areas -- should look like. A cleanly chiseled form that's functional yet somehow still Euro chic.
I: Intuitive controls. For example, the proven, old-school three knob layout for the climate control and likewise user-friendly radio with volume and tuning knobs on either end. The steering wheel controls also become second nature in short order.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 24, 262 miles
June 13, 2011
It's great to have our prodigal GTI back home. A little the worse for wear, it still is a fun drive, and it got a chance to frolic Sunday morning on Pasadena's Arroyo Seco Parkway. (The parkway was the first freeway built in the United States and was designed for the then-maximum legal speed limit of 45 mph. The GTI took it a little faster than that.)
While I didn't hear the ticking and clicking that has bedeviled our car, the squeaking that Erin mentioned in March is louder and more persistent than ever. It seems to come from the area of the back seat and I think it's triggered by bumps and judders in the road. It sounds like an irked cricket, and if I owned the car, I'd tempted to go on a bughunt to find and silence the little sucker.
But if you saw "Aliens," you know why Pvt. Hudson (pictured, above left) was so skeptical of bughunts. They involve time and treasure (assuming the car is out of warranty). And there's about a 50/50 chance you'll be able to source and kill the noisemaker before you lose your mind. That's been my experience with such squeaks and creaks, anyway. What's yours?
Carroll Lachnit, Features Editor @24,013 miles
March 25, 2011
I'm a big fan of the GTI. I dig the plaid seats, I dig the power, and I dig the flat bottom steering wheel.
But I also really like the simple clean lines/layout of the center stack. Easy to find what you're looking for in a brief glance. Way better than the disaster of buttons in the Crosstour, IMHO.
Scott Jacobs, Sr. Mgr, Photography
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
March 16, 2011
Bad news, plaid haters, the cloth seats in our 2010 Volkswagen GTI are holding up great after over 21,000 miles of brutal, indifferent use by 20-odd editors. Whereas the leather seats in various long-term cars have aged rapidly while in our care, these plaid seats are still stain-free with minimal pilling. If I had it my way, all the cars in our long-term fleet would have plaid...Mwahahaha.
Minor signs of wear after the jump.
There's minor pilling (i.e., fuzz) on the widest part of the outboard seat-back bolster on the driver seat. No surprise, here, since everybody rubs against it getting in and out of the GTI.
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 28, 2011
Although I've had plenty of seat time in our Long Term 2010 Volkswagen GTI it wasn't until my most recent drive in the white hatchback I realized how many "dead buttons" are lining the center console.
We've all heard this complaint before (and it's one I wholeheartedly share): "I hate it when there are a bunch of blank button holes in my dash because it just reminds me of how many features my car is missing, and how much I 'cheaped out' when I bought this car."
That's true in most cars, and admittedly our GTI is missing one big option group. It doesn't have the Navigation Package, which includes not only a navigation system but a harddrive, DVD playback, an SD memory slot, a USB slot and an auxiliary audio input.
But really, if it did have that option would all four of those buttons been necessary? I don't think so. Is there another, high-end version of the Golf that includes a long list of features requiring five buttons at the bottom of the center stack? Again, I don't think so (though I'm sure the VW fans out there will let me know if I'm missing something).
So what's with all these dead buttons in here? I'm guessing there's some European version(s) of the Golf that has, oh I don' t know, the "Light Bright" package where you can independently turn off every side-marker light with these buttons. Those Europeans love having special exterior lighting controls.
Anyway, I don't appreciate feeling like I'm driving the poor-man's stripper VW every time I look down at the shifter, especially when I ("I" being "Edmunds" in this particular case) have ponied up for the GTI version of the Golf.
Karl Brauer, Editor at Large @ 19,960 miles
January 13, 2011
I love turning on the GTI's lights. The switch knob has such a perfect heft and fluidity to its motion that I could flick it back and forth all day. Perhaps that's an exageration, but if I had just visited a Jamaican bakery, I'm sure its plausible. Any way, it's one of the many details within the GTI's cabin that makes it seem like a bargain-priced luxury car.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 19,394 miles
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 04, 2011
I've never understood sport pedals in road cars. You are essentially adding something for the purpose of looking cool in a place that you can't easily see. It's like wallpapering a closet. To make matters worse, sport pedals with their small contact patches of rubber don't provide the grip of normal, fully rubberized pedals. When I jumped into the GTI this weekend after walking around in the rain, I disliked how slippery its sport pedals felt against my shoes. They didn't exactly feel as if they'd been coated in a thick layer of Pam, but it was hardly reassuring. If I owned our GTI, I'd replace them with something not-so-sporty.
While sport pedals are now nearly ubiquitous, there's one sporty company that has largely resisted this silly practice: BMW. I've heard the reason is that the Bavarians believe that being able to drive properly is more important than having sporty-looking footwells. I obviously agree, but there is a cloud on the horizon -- I say "largely" because the new 335is has them. Knock it off.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 19,236 miles
I'm officially now on Twitter @jriswick ... alert the media
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.
Hit the jump to see what I mean.
December 13, 2010
The VW Group sunroof opening whatsit is unique. Rather than pressing a button or pulling back on a two-way slidey thing that activates an auto-retract function, you twist a knob to the desired sunroof opening aperture. In my 2000 Jetta VR6, I'd just twist all the way to the top and it would open. Twisting the other direction would tilt the sunroof. It was simple and quick, and there was no fighting with the car's auto-retract function.
I'm not sure when the change happened, but the sunroof control in the GTI is more complicated.
You twist the knob around all the way to the end and run through a mushy detent area at the end of its travel (noted by a line next to the knob) before the knob settles back to the beginning of that detent area. You'd think this would open the sunroof all the way, but it doesn't. There's still 90-percent of the glass and shade showing. Twisting through that detent area once again opens the roof all the way.
According to the manual, this 90-percent open is for "quieter operation" with the sunroof back. I'm not sure if I detected much of a noise difference, though there was some buffeting with it fully back (corrected by cracking the windows a scoash). I suppose this is all well and good, but I have two questions:
1) The knob allows you to easily stop it wherever you'd like any way, so why the detent thingy?
2) Why allow it to open all the way if there's such an increased level of noise and/or buffeting that it requires you to set-up this overly complicated detent thingy-majig?
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 17,400 miles
December 07, 2010
Caroline wrote a few weeks ago that she finds the GTI's shift knob to be comfortable and I agree, although I think the old one was better.
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 09, 2010
More warm feelings about our 2010 Volkswagen GTI. I really like the little touches it has throughout its cabin. For some reason the details like the red stitching on the steering wheel, gearshifter and seats as well as the brushed aluminum bits everywhere, make it feel so finished and of a high quality. I know it has plaid seats but look at that needlework. By the way, "macro" is photography lingo for "close-up."
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 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
October 01, 2010
Forza Motorsport 3 week continues, as I snagged the GTI keys with the firm notion of giving it a real and simulated shakedown. First, the real bits. I still love the GTI - way more than the Mazdaspeed 3. But perfect, it's not.
Before I even got it into first gear, I realized that the iPod jack wasn't finding my iPhone. It would charge it, but I couldn't get it to play through the AUX menu. A short while later, I noticed that the brake pedal is just a wee bit too tall (close to me) to do low-speed heel-toe downshifts. Higher speeds are fine because I have to give it more brake pedal pressure, pushing it closer to the throttle. Finally, I found the shifter just a little out of reach. And by al little, I mean about an inch or so too far forward.
Now for some hot laps.
September 29, 2010
Simple, straightforward and intuitively laid out. Everything's exactly where you expect it to be, and there's no clutter to contend with. It won't set the world on fire or anything, but it's functional and attractive enough. Does this look work for you?
Now if only the folks at Volkswagen had taken a similarly conservative approach when selecting the GTI's seat upholstery...
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 13,770 miles
September 23, 2010
I did a bunch of photo collages a while back to compare and contrast various coupes visibility. Those photo collages are a pain in the butt, though, so here's a video instead showcasing just how open and airy the GTI's cabin is. Sure, a VW hatchback doesn't look as cool as a Camaro, but there's something to be said for seeing where you're going.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 13,574 miles
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 02, 2010
Two days ago Mike Schmidt told you about the broken hook, which locates the string, which in turn suspends the rear cargo cover in our 2010 GTI. What he didn't do was show you the result -- one severely wonked rear cargo cover. It's not great.
This is the part where I refrain from saying anything about the flawless performance of the cargo cover retention hooks on our Mazdaspeed 3.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
August 31, 2010
Our long-term 2010 VW GTI has but a single 12V accessory powerpoint in the front seating area (below). Brent has pointed this out several times. When I took my road trip to San Francisco in July, I had to power my mobile phone, my radar detector (for safety reasons), and my portable navigation unit (as we didn't order Navi on our GTI).
Needless to say it was a pain to juggle these three devices in the single powerpoint. But I remembered that Brent mentioned that the GTI has a second powerpoint. And I found it in the cargo area.
Why in the cargo area? If this were a Sienna or some other mommymobile I would understand.
Moms need to inflate the kiddie pool floaties, soccer balls, etc.
What's a GTI driver going to do with that powerpoint? Maybe you GTI fanbois can help me understand.
Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 12, 250 miles
August 09, 2010
When I went to San Francisco last month in our long-term 2010 VW GTI I used the Cruise quite a bit. You see, during the MotoGP weekend it seemed like half of all California Highway Patrol units were on the job from The City to the Monterey Peninsula. I even saw for the first time CHP shooting laser on
I-280 on the run down the hill from Burlingame! I used the cruise a lot to avoid getting a citation, so I gained some familiarity with the GTI's stalk cruise.
It's got a master switch on top that you flip back and forth. I never cancelled cruise operation using this, but I think it would be awkward. And for the speed setting and resume you press on that rocker switch on the end of the stalk.
It all works fine, but Blind Operation (without looking) is a bit challenging, especially for speed setting.
I prefer the tap up/tap down cruise stalk on our GTI's luxury sister, the departed long-term Audi S5. Doing that on the GTI's stalk activates the turn signals.
Why are they different -- product differentiation??
Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,900 miles
July 29, 2010
Since we finally have been getting weather resembling summer, I decided to crack open our 2010 Volkswagen GTI's sunroof. I LOVE cars with sunroof controls like this -- knobs and markings -- where you can be precise about just how much of the outside you want in. None of this obsessive back and forth with a lever and just a smidge...more..THERE. Nooo! Don't close! Makes control freaks like me very happy. You can even ratchet up how high you want the moonroof to go. Love it.
Sorry about the blurry detailed shot.
Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 10,209 miles
July 26, 2010
Before my trip to the MotoGP race and San Francisco this past weekend, I cleared out our long-term 2010 VW GTI's glovebox to make room for some spare magazines and happened across The Secret Fridge.
There -- in the upper left corner of the top pic -- is a rotary switch that opens a small hole. This allows airflow from the HVAC to enter the glovebox. I turned up the A/C briefly and could feel the cool air coming out.
With that vent open you can keep a drink cool in there. And with a quarter-turn you can also close that vent if you don't want whatever was placed in there -- say, your girlfriend's undergarments -- to be cold.
It worked pretty well. At moderate A/C cooling I was not only able to keep a cold drink cold, but I also was able to chill down a room temp plastic bottle of water to cool (not cold) after a few hours. Impressive.
And the price (free) is infinitely more palatable than the $760 real-compressor fridge in our long-term Ford Flex.
Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 10,200 miles
July 11, 2010
Three knobs, three buttons. Simple.
Even the seat heater buttons are integrated intuitively. I'll agree with Karl and admit that the icons on the mode knob are a bit small. But this layout is about as efficient and effective as it can possibly be.
Nearly every current climate control system uses buttons which are far less efficient. I'll save you my diatribe on why I prefer manual ventilation controls over climate control, but let's just says it starts with a blast of wrong-temperature air in the face when you climb in on a hot or cold day.
Not a problem here. One quick turn of the knob and that problem is solved.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
July 08, 2010
It seems that some staffers here like the steering wheel on our long-term 2010 VW GTI, while others don't.
I love it. I love the perforated leather, the small (but not too small) diameter, the thumb cutouts, and the details such as the red stitching and the metal GTI badge.
The cross-section diameter is also just right for me. Some cars install a super thick rim trying to front being sporty. That's just uncomfortable for me and sometimes will cause fatigue on a long drive.
And that somewhat controversial flat-bottom? So racy. And if you turn to near steering lock it helps you know the orientation of the wheel without looking -- when you shuffle you can feel the flat section pass through your hands.
Our dearly departed Nissan GT-R and his sister the 370Z had very nice steering wheels, but for me, the GTI's STW is one of the best I've tried.
Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 8,300 miles
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 11, 2010
I got more flak about the Mazda Mazdaspeed3 interior post I did a few days ago than I expected. On the suggestion of reader chirsch3, I got into our GTI to give the interior a fresh look.
Fair disclosure, I think it's safe to say I have a soft spot for plaid. I grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains and plaid flannel shirts were a staple. Yes, that was way before Smells Like Teen Spirit. It also reminds me of a real cool punk rock girlfriend I had back up in the Bay Area many years ago.
I like the plaid interior of the GTI. I think it's cool.
Herald the onslaught of rotten tomatoes and putrescence. Yeah! Bring it on!
I usually like the classically styled interior, but not always. I don't think I'd say the GTI's interior is trendy. You might say it's dated (besides ugly). Maybe I like it because of the Santa Cruz Mountains or maybe it's because it reminds me of my Gwen Stefani like ex-girlfriend. Sure my affinity for the interior may date me, but this is one time capsule I don't mind being strongly associated with.
Do you think I'm crazy? I have no taste? Is the GTI's interior really that bad?
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
June 08, 2010
Our long-term 2010 VW GTI has easy to fold rear seats like most hatchbacks with an easy to access seat release.
But VW adds an easy way to verify that the rear seats are -- to borrow a phrase from your flight attendant -- in an upright and locked position. There's a small tab with a red indicator that protrudes when the seat isn't locked. This could be important if you have children riding in the rear seats. The photo below shows the seat locked and the tab retracted.
Nice. And simple too.
Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 6920 miles
May 06, 2010
As you can see, there's not a whole lot of room to store stuff in our GTI's center console. The iPod adapter takes up most of the space, leaving just enough room for perhaps a box of Tic Tacs. More importantly, there's no power point here. There's just one up front in the center stack, so if you want to plug in two devices (say, your cell phone and a radar detector) you're out of luck. There is a power point in the rear cargo area, but that's obviously not very convenient for most items.
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 19, 2010
The Volkswagen GTI is shockingly good. It's one of those cars that has you grinning before you're 500 yards out of the Edmunds.com parking garage, and that's impressive considering you're still slogging through Santa Monica traffic at that point. Get it on an open freeway or twisty stretch of road and other drivers probably wonder why the guy in the GTI has that stupid smile plastered on his face.
Unless said guy is trying to operate the GTI's various center-stack controls with a quick glance in-between heel-and-toe downshifts, because that is frustratingly impossible.
Germans have a history of using weird icons and pictographs for their interior controls, but I've gotten used to that. What had me grinding my teeth during my recent GTI seat time was how long it took me to figure out the climate dials.
I simply needed cooler air coming out of the dash vents. Spotting the temperature control dial was relativley easy, though the tempertaure numbers are small and only legible because it's the closest of the three dials. Then there's the fan speed. Simple logic suggests turing it clockwise ups the amont of blow you get, even if the actual speed numbers are similarly diminutive.
But the ventilation control? That's an ergonomic train wreck. I took the above photo at both a lower and shallower angle to the climate control dials (than my eyes' location when driving) because I wanted the markings to at least be legible, and even in this photo it's clear how hard the right dial's markers are to read. You can't even see the right side setting for this dial (which, as it happens, is the dashboard setting I was searching for).
After spending more time scanning the dials than the road ahead I finally waited until I had stopped at a red light, then I bent down and swung my head around to get directly in front of the controls. "Oh, there it is!"
As someone with recent lasik surgery and better than 20/20 vision I'm not used to basic controls with unreadable markings. And it's not like there isn't more real estate available. Look at the three top buttons in this photo. The icons are only using about 20 percent of the total area.
I know VW likes to think of itself as a young-and-hip company making young-and-hip products for young-and-hip buyers, but in this case they could learn a lesson from Buick.
Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 4,103 miles
April 14, 2010
The more I drive this GTI the more I'm impressed by its relatively affordable price. For $25K, this is about as much car as one could expect. It's well built, has great seats, more than enough power and the kind of detailing you rarely find in this price range.
Take this steering wheel badge for instance. It's made of actual metal. Looks good and let's face it, if you're going to spend a little money on trim why not spend it on something that's right in the owner's face?
Obviously, the fact that VW made this piece of trim out of metal doesn't make this a better car. It's just another example of the detail work that went into its design and execution. Would love to see more $25K cars with this level of detail work.
Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 4,061 miles
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 16, 2010
2010 VW GTI Meet Jenny Humphrey.
As someone who spent 12 years of her life forced to wear a Catholic school uniform, I'm not a fan of plaid. Just saying.
Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor
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