2010 Volkswagen GTI: I'll Settle
June 15, 2010
I had our 2010 Volkswagen GTI one night last week when I was running around trying to get ready to fly 6,000 miles away the next morning. And, you know, much as Brent wrote earlier, I really do like some of the things it does -- even compared to our hotter hatch, the Mazdaspeed 3.
The clutch takeup is infinitely more predictable and refined in the GTI, and the shifter feels more fluid moving between the gates. Despite the car's sleepier feel, I bet I'm making quicker gearchanges in the VW GTI than in the MS3. Pedal spacing is wider in the Volkswagen, requiring a slight pivot of my ankle to execute a heel-and-toe downshift. This is a slight bummer compared to the turnkey arrangement in the Mazda, but in time, I'd adjust.
And apart from that quibble over the pedals, the driving position in the GTI is a little bit better for me than in the MS3 -- simply because the steering wheel telescopes out a bit farther in the VW.
Finally, the ride quality. In conjunction with our long-termer's 18-inch all-season tires, the GTI's stock spring and damper settings really are ideal for putting around the city. And, though I don't like to admit it, if I bought either of these hatches, I'd spend 90 percent of my time lapping freeways and broken city streets. Even so, I really do like the insistent, wound-up personality of the Mazdaspeed 3, which has a perfectly acceptable ride. But when I'm in the mood to just relax, the Volkswagen GTI really is a compelling and very chill alternative.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor