2010 Volkswagen GTI: Talk to Me, Goose!
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.
Consider its inability to communicate very well. There's no icon indicating the hood release, for example, just a chunky plastic lever in the general area where they usually are. Likewise, the front seat fold mechanisms, located on the outside shoulder of each seat. The GTI doesn't even tell you clearly when it needs oil.
There's probably no real intent behind these quirks, no VW engineers chuckling deviously in anticipation of all the Americans they'll confuse. Or maybe there is? Either way, it's OK. It makes for a car that actually has some character and voice.
Some of the GTI's quirks are maddening, though. The road hum and whistle behind the driver's head is uncool. All the seals look and feel fine, but the gap between door and rear-quarter panel seems too wide. And the occasional ticking that has developed, also behind the driver's head, is an unsettling accompaniment while at idle. Hopefully we'll have some kind of answer for this at the next service.
Still, the GTI is such neck-whipping fun, you pretty much forgive its small faults. Might feel different if I owned it and had to live with it EVERY day. Then again, I'd also have that little wellspring of plentiful boost to sip from everyday. And that'd be alright, too.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor