2010 VW GTI: Three Seats, Three Days
December 09, 2010
Through a fortunate twist of circumstances, I managed to shuttle and ferry a handful of our short- and long-term cars within about 72 hours. The experiences were biased toward German engineering and it all ended with a drive in the personal roller coaster that is the VW GTI. The shuttled included:
2011 BMW X3: Blah. Frustrating. Sorry.
2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Bluetec: Autobahn blocker. Pleasant diesel rattle at idle. Like a truck. Lets you know it wants to work. Past 40 mph, the clatter recedes. Feels cinder-block solid, but with improbably light steering when navigating stoplights around town. Liked it a lot. Editor Jordan said I'm getting old (40's in sight, but not quite). Riswick put it best: the Benz knows what it is, and doesn't try to be something it's not.
2010 VW GTI: The climax to all this car shuttling. Well worth it. A feeling of endless boost, available at a crack. Took out on a favorite Orange County test loop in the wet. Didn't totally uncork it; prefer to remain employed, thanks. But even at normal back-canyon speeds, with the occasional spur, the GTI never lacked fitness. There's a reason most of us love this car; it's just simply fun to drive. Sure, you can say that about many cars. But for the segment the GTI competes in, and the price point VW offers it at, it's a total package. Boost, braking, arcing, carving, comfort, response and stability; you don't NEED to hammer on this thing to enjoy it. And you know it'll enjoy it when you do.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor