2010 Volkswagen GTI Long-Term Road Test - Performance

2010 Volkswagen GTI Long-Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (4)
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  • Long-Term

2010 VW GTI: OK, Try This One: The 2012 VW Golf R

August 23, 2011

GolfRDynamic.jpg (Photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America, Inc.)

Our departed 2010 Volkswagen GTI caused some derisive opinions in the office. It was like red states versus blue states or cat people versus dog people, but in this case it was editors who loved our GTI (i.e., Riswick) and those who, if not hated, at least disliked it with a fair amount of passion (i.e., Jacquot).

But soon there could be a solution to make both camps happy -- the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R. A meaner, more powerful version of the GTI, this R32 successor could be the car that turns the GTI haters' frowns upside down. But it could also still be refined enough to keep the GTI lovers in their "Das Auto" T-shirts.

So how does it shape up? I got to drive the 2012 Golf R in Herndon, Virginia (near Volkswagen's headquarters) today to find out.

First, some background that's more up-to-date than our first drive. The Golf R gets the same variant of 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that's used in the 265-horsepower Audi TTS. In Golf R spec, it produces 256 hp and 243 pound-feet of torque. According to VW, the detuning is to ensure durability as the Golf R's front fascia doesn't have as much air flow cooling potential as the TTS'. But as a nod to the car's enthusiast audience, a six-speed manual is the only transmission offered.

The 2012 VW Golf R continues the R32's distinction of standard four-wheel drive. Power is routed to all four wheels through an updated Haldex four-wheel drive system. Unlike a WRX STI, for instance, the Golf R's system is front-wheel drive until additional traction is needed. But compared to the R32, the new system is much quicker and predictive when vectoring torque -- up to 100 percent of it -- to the rear.

The suspension tuning is firmer than the GTI's, with a 0.6-inch drop in ride height below the GTI's already lowered height. European models actually get an adaptive suspension damper option, but it won’t be available for the U.S. Even so, the U.S. car isn't defanged -- tuning for the R's suspension is pretty much the same as if you were to set the Euro adaptive suspension to the most aggressive "Sport." The R's steering is still electric assist and has the same ratio, but effort has been retuned to be sportier.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: What It Means To Me

June 19, 2011

GTI 002.jpg

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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Edmunds Rating

June 17, 2011


A few months ago John DiPietro asked you to check out the consumer reviews for the 2010 GTI. This time it's our Edmunds Rating. Check it out. The GTI get high marks.

Should it? What do you think? Are we right or wrong?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2010 Volkswagen GTI or 2012 Honda Civic Si

May 04, 2011

2012 Honda Civic Si 2010 VW GTi.jpg

Today we ran a Track Tested piece on the 2012 Honda Civic Si. And the discussion there, and in our office, quickly turned to that of 2.0-liter 200 horsepower / 207 torque GTI or 2.4-liter 201 horsepower / 170 torque Civic Si?

It's a question that rears up every few years and 2011 is no different. There's a new Si on the block as the GTI is knocking on two. There is a $1,490 price difference in favor of the Civic. There is an incalculable appearance difference in favor of the VW.

I've made a quick list of performance specs after the jump. But we all know that cars are more than just track numbers.

Which would you buy, and why?


200 horsepower @ 5,100
207 pound-feet at 1,800

225/40R18 Dunlop SP Sport 01 AS

3,097 pounds

0-60: 7.0
0-60 Rollout: 6.6
Quarter mile: 15.0 @ 95.2

30-0: 34
60-0: 130

Slalom: 65.5
Skidpad: 0.87

Price: $23,695


2012 Honda Civic SI

201 horsepower @ 7,000
170 pound-feet @ 4,300

215/45ZR17 Michelin Pilot Exalto PE2

2,845 lbs.

0-60: 6.9
0-60 w/rollout: 6.6
Quarter mile: 15.1 @ 93.1

30-0: 20
60-0: 120

Slalom: 67.3
Skidpad: 0.86

Price $22,205

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: The Effect Of Octane On Its Power

April 26, 2011


A few weeks back, one of our editors filled our longterm 2010 Volkswagen GTI's tank with 87 octane. Whether VW intended for this to happen or not, reality has a way of rendering such things moot.

Then we had a bright -- if obvious -- idea: let's do a dyno test to quantify just how much power this little hatch loses as a result of the lower octane.

It went down like this: We ran that tank of 87-ish octane down to nearly empty and refilled with 87 to ensure that the only thing in the tank was 87 octane. That, and it would give the electronic German brain on board adequate opportunity to recalibrate itself for the lower octane.

Then we dynoed it, performing as many runs as necessary to achieve a stable and consistent result.

Afterwards, we ran that tank down and refilled with 91 octane (that's the highest we get for premium fuel here in California), ran that tank down and refilled again with 91. Same logic as before.

We hit the dyno rollers again a few days later. Here's the result:

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Nurburgring 24

March 31, 2011


Just the other day I was thinking again that the GTI suits me. It drives the same whether you’re going fast or slow. In fact I was thinking it would be the perfect car for endurance racing and wondered if there are many examples at the Nurburgring 24, the most famous endurance racing event for street stock cars.

Apparently I’m not the only one, because Volkswagen Motorsport is preparing to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Golf by entering a car in the Nurburgring, which is scheduled for 23-26 June.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Dyno Test on 87 Octane?

March 21, 2011


There was some drama surrounding our 2010 Volkswagen GTI last week. We filled it with 87 octane gasoline and it didn't go over well. So now we have another idea, dyno test it on 87 and compare it to performance on 91. What do you think?

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 21,828 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Jealousy Machine

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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Don't Shoot the Messenger

March 15, 2011

Thumbnail image for 2010 VW GTI fuel filler flap.jpg

There was a great disturbance in the force yesterday when I wrote that the 2010 Volkswagen GTI doesn't require premium gasoline, and that -- horrors -- I'd used regular unleaded in the car. I expected someone from Automotive Protective Services to show up and take the innocent little vehicle into foster car because of my alleged abuse.

One reader pointed us to a photo of the label in fuel filler flap as evidence that premium is required. Here's the label in our GTI, and while I don't want to parse its meaning like some kind of amateur attorney, I will point out that it says "unleaded fuel only." Not "premium unleaded fuel only."

See the exclamation-point-on-page icon? It's telling us to go the owner's manual for more information. Let's go.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Still Great, but Aging Fast

March 11, 2011


OK, maybe "aging fast" is a little strong with the language, but that ticking noise from the vicinity of the driver-side B-pillar in our 2010 Volkswagen GTI has become a persistent squeaking noise. It's very annoying at 70 mph on the freeway and makes our warm hatch feel older than it really is.

It's too bad, because last night I was reminded again why I like this car. The drivetrain is as smooth as it is strong, the engine sounds great through its snorkus, and the six-speed manual is fun to shift. I may have to pay our VW service advisor a personal visit.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 21,448 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Hey Cousin, Lighten Up

March 07, 2011

gti and gallardo.jpg

After parking the GTI in front of a Lamborghini Gallardo, I realized something rather strange. This German hot hatch and that Italian exotic are somewhat related. Back in 1998, Lamborghini was purchased by Volkswagen through their Audi division. That union brought Lamborghini back from the near-dead via a couple of all-new models (the Murcielago and then Gallardo), after being owned by seemingly disinterested Chrysler and then Indonesian interests.

That orange Gallardo sitting there happens to be the Superleggera ("Super light") model. It has a 570-hp V10 engine, all-wheel drive and a lot of carbon fiber. It weighs just 2,954 pounds -- talk about power to weight! Our GTI, with its turbo four and front-wheel drive, weighs 3,103 pounds. Though I certainly enjoy driving the peppy, comfortable V-dub, it is rather pudgy for a small hatchback. Imagine how much more fun (yes, and expensive) it would be if they offered a 400-pound lighter, enthusiast-focused Superleggera version.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 21,385 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI vs 2012 Volkswagen Golf R: What Do You Want to Know?

February 26, 2011

Golf R 2012.jpg

Right, so the cleverest amongst us will notice that that blue thing there with the gaping grille and cool, not-phone-dialey wheels, is not our 2010 Volkswagen GTI, but rather a 2012 Volkswagen Golf R. You know the deal: all-wheel-drive and 266-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter, six-speed manual ONLY.

And I'll be driving it on Monday. We've already run a first drive, but is there anything we missed, or anything that you want to know about the US-bound hotter hatch from Vee-Dub? Get questions in early for best chance of an answer.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Which Would You Rather?

February 15, 2011


After observing the grand old LA tradition of Valentine's Day Dinner, we returned to the parking lot to find this sweet Volvo C30 R-design. I haven't thought about the C30 in years, but this one looks great. For a few seconds there in the parking lot, I forgot all about the otherwise handsome GTI. Which do you like better?

In other news, the B-pillar ticking noise is back, and it has joined forces with the leaky driver door seal to annoy the bejesus out of me. Most likely, we'll have to insist on a test drive with a VW dealer service advisor or tech to avoid a "cannot duplicate customer concern" diagnosis -- and time permitting, we will do that.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 20,681 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: My Day Off

February 11, 2011


Yesterday was a good day. I took a vacation day to attend a family gathering downtown as well as run a few errands. I found myself with an idle couple of hours and decided to hit the Barney's Warehouse sale (got a sweet $300 shirt for $59) and took our GTI out for a spin in Pasadena.

When I first started riding motorcycles, I'd wake up 45 minutes early to get in a canyon ride on the way to work. I learned every turn, every rut and every bump on these roads. So how'd the GTI do?

The GTI performed admirably -- for a front-drive car. It railed through turns and always felt solidly anchored to the road. But this canyon run also made me realize why I've owned rear-drive cars almost exclusively.

Accelerating out of a turn requires a careful application of throttle. A little too much pedal and the front tires start spinning and the steering wheel tries to wrestle free of my grip. Sure, stickier tires would help, but only up to a point. Weight transferring to the rear under acceleration and the resulting increase in grip is what I live for, and FWD cars simply can't deliver or compare.

I noted before that the GTI was my top hatchback pick. I think I'll also pick it as tops among front-wheel-drive cars, too. That said, if I had $24k to spend on fun car, I think I'd go with a V6 Mustang or Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Next Project?

February 04, 2011

Thumbnail image for project_gti_front.jpg

Our time with the GTI is coming up short. I loved every chance I got with the car. I'd love for it to stick around. Maybe we can convince Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh to take the GTI on as the next project car and give it another year here in our possession.

Remember the W12 Concept?

VW engineers went a little nutty with this one. They crammed their 6.0-liter bi-turbo W12 engine into where the rear seats used to be, widened and lowered the car, then reshaped the C-pillars into vents to feed air into this beast. Cranking out 650 horsepower and 553 pound feet of torque, the GTI blasted off from 0 to 100kp/h in 3.7 seconds.

While we probably couldn't afford the amount of components and engineering that Volkswagen put into this thing, it does offer some beautiful dreams.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Adventures Around Montana

February 04, 2011

GTI on Montana.jpg

I only had our soon-to-depart GTI on Thursday night and this morning, but I took advantage of it to visit Santa Monica's trendy Montana Avenue, home to boutiques, Pilates studios (I counted four in about five blocks) and the beautiful Aero Theatre, built in 1940. The Aero was holding a sold-out screening of "The King's Speech," featuring a talk with the film's director, Tom Hooper, and its star, Colin Firth. But since I was never one of those swoon-for-Mister-Darcy girls, no big deal that I missed it.

Montana and the GTI are made for each other. The car is easy to park, fitting neatly into the street's metered spaces. It maneuvers well, able to handle sudden stops for ambling latte-drinking model-moms as they crossed the street. And when traffic unclogged, it was a blast to drive. Like Montana, the GTI is quirky and fun.

But it's not nearly as quirky as the car I saw as I headed into the street's residential neighborhood.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: The Shift Light

February 02, 2011


The GTI has a shift light that's constantly telling me when to shift. I've been shifting for 25 years. Even if fuel economy were a priority, I don't really need it.

To me, the shift light feels like a modern voice mail system which spends 45 seconds telling me to leave a message after the beep then hang up -- something I've been doing for even longer than driving and am fully capable of doing without instruction.

What about you? Shift light or no?

Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: 20,000-Mile Funk

February 01, 2011

Thumbnail image for Milestone Banner.jpgVW GTI-20000k.jpg Our long-term GTI crested 20,000 miles this weekend. We've had it since March of last year and it still generally remains a staff favorite. It's a playful, responsive car that doesn't ask much, and always seems to have enough boost on tap for an open lane sprint. It also gets pretty good fuel economy, averaging about 25 MPG, and has been mechanically solid. Its only trip to the dealer was for a 10,000-mile service. But it has developed some well-documented traits and deficiencies.

One of the anchors for the cargo cover straps broke. It leaks too much wind and road noise. There's a mystery rhythmic tick somewhere behind the driver's seat.

And now, the latest: a bad case of olfactory funk. Turning on the A/C releases a sour, mildewy blast not unlike the extract of sweaty socks left to dry, bottled into a perfume mister. Curious to see what the service department makes of this one.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: My Hatchback Pick

January 24, 2011

GTI Badge.jpg

The title says it all. This is the car I'd get if I were in the market for a hatchback. It's just a well-rounded little car that has enough comfort and athleticism to keep me satisfied. Click through to see my reasoning as well as what else I got to drive this weekend.

If I had around $24k to spend on a hatchback I'd pick the GTI over everything else. A Cooper S is too much of a novelty for me -- too much kitsch, too much plastic -- but it's still a good car. Honda CR-Z? Nah, too compromised between fuel economy and sportiness. Mazdaspeed 3? No way. Too much torque steer and I hate that silly smiling grille. The Volvo C30 is a maybe, since it's got a lot of power, but ultimately, I still prefer the VW.

As much as I like our GTI, I still wish we could get the Scirocco stateside.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Perhaps the Last Back-Road Drive (with On-Board Video)

January 18, 2011


It was a glorious weekend, and late yesterday afternoon, the our long-term 2010 Volkswagen GTI made an impromptu trip to Glendora Mountain Road, a mottled ribbon of blacktop that climbs out of the San Gabriel Valley and into the mountains to the north. The drive was really last-minute, else I would have put out an invitation here on the blog.

I've driven the GTI on GMR before, but this time subytrojan, and his lightly modified 2004 WRX, was driving with me. We kept a respectable pace, allowing a comfortable margin of error for a road with 2-way traffic. I have to say, though, that this drive was more work than it was in the Mazdaspeed 3, and I came away from it liking the GTI a bit less.

Three on-board videos after the jump.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: An Endorsement for All-Season Tires

January 14, 2011


Last night I hopped in our long-term 2010 Volkswagen GTI and drove about 60 miles, no sweat. Ride quality is still comfortably firm in the warm-hot hatchback from Wolfsburg, and if road noise has crept up over the last 19,000 miles, it's the slightest of increases.

And that's about where my endorsement for our GTI's 225/40R18 92H Dunlop SP Sport01 all-season tires begins. After nearly 20,000 miles, all four tires still have plenty of tread left (though the rears are a touch closer to the wear bars).

When this car showed up in our fleet, I figured all the high curbs in Los Angeles would make mincemeat of the flashy 18-inch wheels, and I wondered aloud several times why we didn't get the standard 17s. (Evidently, the answer is that the 17s couldn't be more uncool, because VW discontinued them for MY2011.) But the Dunlops have a subtle lip around the edge that has provided good protection for the wheels during the car's tour of duty in our fleet. I took a walk around the car and only found two minor blemishes, both on the passenger side.

In short, our 2010 VW GTI has an attractive optional wheel/tire package ($750), and it has worn well -- while giving the car a commuter-friendly ride quality. The only thing these tires don't do is make the GTI handle well; although, they're merely part of an elaborate conspiracy that also involves the dampers and stability control protocol. This latter failing keeps the GTI from being a true hot hatch in my book, but if you want a warm hatch to use as a commuter car, it doesn't get much better than this.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 19,455 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Last Call Already?

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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Road Warrrior

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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Happy When It Rains

December 20, 2010

vw gti rainy view.jpg
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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Off, Damned ESP! Off, I say!

December 16, 2010

VW GTI longterm.jpg My turn to weigh in on the Volkswagen GTI's ESP-off button that's in fact not an ESP-off button. I've been told Edmunds Senior Editor Josh Jacquot has gotten all cranky-pants about this subject in the past. I'm bringing it up again. It's worthy. I mean, come on: Is the GTI supposed to be a fine German sporting machine, or a fun-blocking Toyota product?

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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.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: < 2012 Volkswagen Golf R

December 09, 2010


This is the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R. It's got 266 horsepower from a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4. It's all-wheel-drive and the only available transmission is a 6MT. And it's headed for America.

If the traction control can be turned off, this should pretty much fix the GTI.

Bonus: No goofy plaid seats.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: That's....Close....

December 08, 2010

I had to watch some Russ Swift, British stunt driver, videos for work today (it's rough, lemme tell you ) and came across this video of the precision-driving champ driving a GTI very quickly, very sideways and very close to some parked VW Golfs.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Curves of a Different Kind

November 30, 2010


My adoration for our GTI continues unchecked -- especially when I compare it to the Mazdaspeed 3. The Mazda has a significant turbo hit that, when combined with its considerable torque steer, makes it difficult to drive smoothly. The GTI, on the other hand, has a much gentler ramp up to the turbo and no torque steer to speak of.

This morning, I fired up Dynolicious on my iPhone to try to get a graphical representation of how the throttle feels when the turbo starts breathing. I wasn't heavy on the accelerator, just about the same application as I'd use when passing someone from about 30 mph.

There's a slight pause just after rolling onto the pedal, followed by an authoritative, but smooth rush of power. You can see it represented in the circled section in the graph I pulled from my iPhone. There's just a gentle little step in longitudinal Gs (shown in blue), but the horsepower (yellow) climbs quick and linear. I never got around to trying this in the Mazda, but I suspect it isn't anywhere as straight as the GTI. My intuition says the Mazdaspeed 3 will have a short and fairly tame climb followed immediately by a spike in power.

The GTI is definitely my type of car. Smooth power delivery translates to smooth driving. And smooth driving means quicker lap times. I can concentrate on adding just the right amount of power, rather than brace myself for a sharp hit of turbo kick.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 16,505 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Hey John, Thanks for Inventing the GTI

November 18, 2010


Among all the handshaking and backslapping at the L.A. auto show, I saw my friend John Rettie, the expatriate British auto-journalist, and thanked him for inventing the Volkswagen GTI, much as I usually do.

Turns out he'd met an auto engineer just recently that had also thanked him for doing so.

Rettie didn't invent the Volkswagen GTI, of course, but he pretty well introduced it to America. As soon as the car with its innovative, 110-hp, fuel-injected, 1.6-liter inline-4 had been introduced by Volkswagen at the 1975 Frankfurt auto show, Rettie became a crazed enthusiast. When he came to the U.S., he filled the pages of the VW specialty magazines with stories about the Golf GTi. It would do 100 mph, only we couldn't get it in the U.S. He knew more about it than anyone in America, including the executives at Volkswagen of America.

Finally Rettie brought his own GTi to America and got Motor Trend to include it in a 1980 comparison test, where it stomped the competition (anyway, that's what I remember). Apparently it registered with Volkswagen of America, as he recently met an automotive executive who was a young engineer at VWoA in those days who remembers seeing the story and running it upstairs with some of his friends and putting it under the noses of the VW executives and forcing them to listen.

The story of the Volkswagen GTI's introduction in the U.S. as a 1983 model is a little more complex than this, of course, but there's no question that Rettie's enthusiasm was a key factor in inventing the GTI legend. The next time you think there's no place for crazed enthusiasts in the soulless world of product planning, think again.

Oddly enough Rettie also had a part in another legendary car for enthusiasts, the Mazda MX-5 Miata. When Mazda product planner Bob Hall drove up to Santa Barbara from Mazda's headquarters in L.A. in 1984 to buy a used Lotus Elan as a test vehicle for the planning team, he looked at two cars. The red car didn't leak oil but it was right-hand-drive in the British style, while the blue car leaked like a sieve but was left-hand drive in the American style. Hall picked the blue car, which proceeded to leave an oil slick on my driveway when he drove it around to show me some weeks later. The red Lotus Elan had belonged to Rettie. If Hall had picked his car, that damn oil stain wouldn't still be out there in front of my garage.

So anyway, thanks for the GTI, John. Without it, the BMW M3, Mitsubishi Evo and Subaru Impreza WRX might never have existed.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: The Road to the Lima Residence

November 18, 2010


Our long-term 2010 Volkswagen GTI was my ride to the Lima Residence (above) for the preview of the Saab 9-4X ahead of the LA auto show. This architectural wonder of Calabasas, California, is a little out off the beaten path by Los Angeles County standards -- you have to take a few different two-lane roads to get there.

On the way home, one of these roads, Malibu Canyon, was magically clear of traffic like I've never seen it before, and the GTI and I got at least 8 good corners all to ourselves -- at the pace of my choosing.

This was a fun few minutes. I clucked to myself about how balanced the chassis felt -- it was unflustered over bumps and body roll was contained well enough, given the GTI's compliant ride quality. Ample torque was easy to come by with the 2.0 TFSI motor, and I ripped off a couple clean 3-2 downshifts for the tighter corners.

I've been driving Malibu Canyon/Las Virgenes for years, and I've never had this many turns to myself during daylight hours. It might never happen again. But this few minutes in the GTI put a smile on face for a good 15 minutes afterward.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 16,393 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Engineered by Lotus

November 15, 2010


Well, actually it's not. But while driving away from the presentation of five concept cars by Group Lotus on Friday night and weaving through the cars brought up for the crowd by the valet guys, I was thinking that the GTI resembled a Lotus more than the cars that had brought all these Hollywood people here, the Prius being the most popular by my count.

The classic quotation from Colin Chapman is "Simplificate, and then add lightness," a colloquial phrase popularized by the designer of the British-built Canberra jet bomber that dominated the headlines in the years after World War II, a time when Chapman was studying to be an aircraft engineer. The idea was later expressed more eloquently by Tony Rudd, the BRM Formula 1 designer who moved to Lotus in 1969. He said, "The most elegant and effective and traditional Lotus solution is the one with the least parts effectively deployed."

This is the GTI's story, really, as it gathers together a few prosaic parts that add up to much more than you expect. It certainly impressed the valet guys, who had never really seen one before.

Maybe the VW GTI would get more respect if it had a Lotus badge. It kind of hits all the marks that a Lotus does, doing more with less, and yet you can show up at a Hollywood gig like this and be treated like an adult instead of a gatecrasher.

--Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 16,333 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Chauffeuring Made Fun

November 08, 2010


This past weekend I was saddled with being the designated driver to a couple of friends, having to drive us from event to event around L.A. in our 2010 Volkswagen GTI.

I usually hate driving in the city -- distracted drivers and traffic -- but this time I actually didn't mind it so much. Such smooth and quiet power and so easy to work that clutch in stop-and-go traffic. I think I'm even getting used to the weird angle of the driver seat bottom. Because of all that, I didn't grumble too much having to play chauffeur to my friends. However, I think my having too much fun might have been problematic for my woozy passengers. Oh well, at least we got to where we were going quickly and I was in a good mood when we arrived.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Nicely Balanced

November 05, 2010

GTI r34.jpg
As Brent recently noted, in nearly 16,000 miles of driving, our GTI is averaging 24.6 mpg and on a long freeway run, 33 mpg is attainable. This is doubly impressive to me. One, our average pretty much matches the EPA combined rating of 25 mpg -- no mean feat considering that the GTI has to contend with L.A.'s worst-in-the-nation traffic and a staff whose addiction to boost is second only to mine for chocolate. Secondly, the GTI can scoot from 0-to-60 in 7 seconds flat and run the quarter in 15 flat. That's respectable performance for a roomy car that averages 25 mpg in tough conditions.

But as others have noted, the engine's personality transcends mere spec chart numbers -- the little workhorse provides a broad, traffic-friendly power band that's accompanied by one of the best engine notes I've ever heard from an inline four. Who says you can't have your strudel and eat it too?

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 15,685 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Top Likes and Dislikes

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.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Shifter Scores Two Points

October 18, 2010

gti shfiter.jpg

Our 2010 Volkswagen GTI has a pretty darned good shifter. Good action, great knob, cool looks. Heck, there's even a gear-position indicator on the dash. But that's not the point of this blog, after this weekend -- lots o'rain -- the VW's shifter scored two big points with me.

1) This is the proper and only way a manual transmission should be set up. Reverse next to first, push DOWN on the stick to get to the R gate. That's it. Period. First is used exclusively after R, why would you want it anywhere else? You wouldn't. End of discussion. (Feel free to discuss in the comments.)

2) When you've got the wipers on and put the VW GTI into reverse, the rear wiper on the hatch activates. How cool is that? Very.

Mike Magrath, Associate Editor @ 14,820 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: The People's Dyno

October 08, 2010


So once it's parked, I look down and see the GTI's odometer reading, "14,076 miles." It's been around here since February, so this is a goodly number of miles.

And this makes me think of the Mazdaspeed 3, which struggled to crack 20,000 miles the last month or so, even though it's been around for almost a year.

Never mind dynamometer comparisons of horsepower, which car do people really like to drive?

After six months of being driven almost daily, the GTI had recorded 11,300 miles. After six months, the Mazdaspeed 3 had recorded 10,213 miles.

Well, you can quibble about frequency of drives and duration of trip and all the other variables, but the people's dyno has given us its result.

Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 14,076 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Loves the Open Road

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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Liar, Liar.

October 01, 2010


This is some kind of Audi; some two door A3. That's not a bad thing, Audi's are nice, but this is not a GTI.

Back in college, waaaay back in college, I was looking at buying a used 1992 16V GTI; red with those pretty BBS wheels. I'd read all the reviews and grabbed a ride or two in a friend's car and I wanted one. Even though I've since forgotten what dealer I went to, I do remember the test drive. The GTI was fun, playful, very basic and raw the way sporty German cars used to be. It'd be silly to say I lusted after it, but I really wanted that car. But since I wasn't able to scrounge up the money to buy it, I had to let it go.

When our 2010 GTI showed up, with the exception of a 20 minutes in a VR6 powered GTI, I hadn't driven a GTI since that used 1992 I drove all those years ago. I finally got a good crack at driving the this thing other night and I'd just like say it left me, mad.

There is GTI badge on the back of the car, but the hell if I know why it's there. This car is soft, the steering is over-boosted and not informative. There's also too much sound deadening. How much is too much? Well when you have to funnel engine sound into the cockpit with a tube, you might have gone too far. The ESP is overbearing and cannot be shut off. Someone should get hit in the head for allowing that to happen on a GTI.

This car is no longer the fun, playful and basic hatch that it was. I know times change, but plaid seats do not a GTI make. It's lacking all the character and personality the earlier generations had, you know the ones that were so good they defined a generation of hatchbacks. Had they called it a Golf GT, I would not have had this... visceral reaction.

It's not a bad car, it's just not a GTI. Not even close.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 13,820 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Virtue and Virtual

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.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Taking the Back Road

September 20, 2010


I had some free time on Sunday, so I took our long-term 2010 Volkswagen GTI on a back road -- the same back road I traveled in our 2010 Mazdaspeed 3. Consistent with the discussion on this blog, it was, of course, a completely different experience. But it wasn't a bad experience and I enjoyed myself.

To start, the GTI's 2.0-liter turbo has plenty of torque for a tight and twisty road such as this. And it makes some great sounds when you're on the throttle hard. This feels like an upgrade over the Mazdaspeed 3, which is simply loud when you're running it hard.

I mostly used 3rd gear, but dipped into 2nd for a few corners. This, too, was enjoyable. We've mentioned the GTI favors tall drivers, and though I am not a giant, I have long legs -- and the seating position in this car is such that I am in a perfect position to rip off clean heel-and-toe downshifts. I love that.

You may have the impression that the GTI's suspension is so soft that it just falls all over itself when you dump the car into a tight corner. On the contrary, this car has a capable suspension that's just tuned to favor ride comfort. When you press along at a decent pace, the grip is there -- you've just got to wade through some body roll to get to it. It feels like everything's happening at a slower pace that in the Mazdaspeed 3 (which is just so frenetic and now, now, now in the way it turns in), but I wonder if I was really was that much slower. This is a public road, remember, with opposing traffic and the occasional cyclist (at least at this time of day), so my typical pace leaves a little room for the unexpected.

Other than the non-defeatable stability control, the major letdown to driving the GTI on a good road is the lack of steering feel. I'd never tell you the setup in the MS3 is perfect, but it gives you feedback you can use. The electric-assisted power steering in the VW is decently weighted, but it insulates you from what the front tires are doing -- this lowered my confidence and made the drive less interesting.

Although I came away from the afternoon happy, I've decided that, unlike the Mazdaspeed 3, the Volkswagen GTI isn't a car I'd drive on a back road just for the sake of going for a drive. It is, however, a car I'd enjoy driving if there happened to be a back road on the way to my destination -- like Brent's trip to Yosemite. The GTI is capable. It just isn't as hot as I think a hot hatch should be.

Yet, I don't dislike the GTI. In fact, I like it a great deal. But I recognize that this car fills completely different needs for me than the Mazdaspeed 3.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 13,351 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Tires Feel Fine to Me

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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Is it Just Me?

September 02, 2010


When the 2010 Volkswagen GTI came first came out, I was instantly reminded of this car, the 2007 VW Golf GTI W12-650, an insane (and nearly undriveable, as it turns out) special made for the annual GTI festival in Austria.

I always figured the wide-mouth grille and the bottom-heavy haunches of the current-gen car owed something to this beast.

Mostly, this was a theory constructed in my mind, because I'd never laid any pictures side-by-side, until now.

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2010 VW GTI: Which Hot Hatch Would You Buy?

August 18, 2010


Alright, pretend you're ready to buy a new hot hatchback. Maybe you have a spouse/partner with another car, but either way your hot hatch is going to be your daily driver. Your choices (pre-selected by me), each with a listed base price, are:

Volkswagen GTI (two-door; four-door is about $600 more) -- $23,690
Mazdaspeed 3 -- $23,340
Mini Cooper S -- $22,300
Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart -- $27,590
Subaru Impreza WRX -- $25,495

Which one would you buy?

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: How Does It Sound?

August 16, 2010


We've made reference a few times about how our 2010 GTI's engine sounds pretty cool, thanks in no small part to its honkus, a plastic tube that channels intake noise into the cabin. Well, I finally got around to shooting a couple videos to demonstrate.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Why I'd Keep It Nearly Stock

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

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2010 VW GTI: I Don't Care What JKav Says

August 06, 2010

vw gti rear bergamot station.jpg

Coming off my Face-Off World Cup win, I'm in a feisty mood and with all due respect to our engineering editor, the right honorable Jay Kavanagh, I don't care what he says about the GTI.

Barring a massive infusion of cash allowing me to buy an XJ Supercharged, the VW GTI is the new car I'd go out and buy with my own money. The reasons hence ...

When the hell am I driving above "6/10ths"? Occasionally when I venture through a canyon, but more importantly, my 6/10ths is a whole heck of a lot lower than 24 Hours of LeMons superstar driver Mr. Kavanagh and our hot-shoe track driver Mr. Josh Jacquot. In fact, my 6/10ths is about their 2/10ths, while their 6/10ths is me wetting myself and recollecting the contents of my life. And that's me, who I'll not so humbly admit is actually a pretty good driver.

For most people, the GTI adds just the right amount of spice and involvement without taking away from the sublime seats, the perfect driving position, the massive visibility, the impressively large back seat, the beautiful interior (that makes the new Jetta feel like it's intended for Brazil), the well-balanced ride and the fact it doesn't wrench the wheel out of my hands at almost every opportunity.

Are the all-seasons crap? Yes. Are the track numbers not as good as others? Yes. Should the traction control be fully defeatable? Absolutely, but I haven't experienced it with the frequency of others (though I'm pretty sure I don't drive as nutty as they do). Is it as much of a riot as a Mazdaspeed 3? No. Is someone likely to bring a stock GTI to a track? No, but then I don't really want to drive a car that would be good for a track. I believe that a hot hatch should be a hatchback that is hotter than its base version, not a hot car that happens to be a hatch. The GTI is one, the Mazdaspeed 3 is the other.

I equate the GTI to being a budget entry-level sport sedan. An A4 or 3 Series aren't track cars, but they in fact add some spice to their sophistication.

I love the GTI and I don't care what JKav says.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 10,707 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: I'm With Josh

August 05, 2010

r34 park gti lt sized.jpg

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.

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2010 VW GTI: The Road to Laguna Seca

July 29, 2010

Laguna Seca Turn 3.JPG
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.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Suspension Walkaround

June 30, 2010


More than a few of you have been getting impatient for this one. The wait is over. The suspension walkaround of our 2010 Volkswagen GTI long-term test car is finally here.

The going wasn't as smooth as I'd hoped. Volkswagen uses annoying, easy-to-lose lug nut caps that must be removed with an annoying, easy-to-lose wire removal tool, and a liberal coating of tire black at the last carwash may have ruined my pair of jeans. Oh, how I despise tire black.

Enough of my whining already. On with the show and tell.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI Hitting That Gnarly Seam on the Freeway

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

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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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Good in Traffic

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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: The Honkus

May 24, 2010

Hey, at least it sounds good.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ 60XX miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: How Is It In The Real World?

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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Handle This

May 10, 2010

2010_gti_whl_volkswagen_lt_1_717.jpg It's clear the Volkswagen community is as vocal as it is zealous when it comes to defending its beloved GTI. And we can't blame them. The current car offers a fine combination of everyday performance and top-of-the-segment refinement and build quality.

Our first-hand experience and instrumented tests, however, show that it's not a class leader when it comes to instrumented test numbers. And our handling rating reflects those facts.

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2010 Volkswagen GTi: Track Tested - Updated

May 07, 2010


(Photo by Scott Jacobs)

Love the new GTI and its grown-up ride and build quality? Hate the 2010 GTI because it got boring and soft and started yelling at kids to get off its lawn? Either way, we tested it and you want to read about it!

0-60? Yes!

Slalom? You betcha!

Skidpad? Wouldn't miss it for the world....

Hit the jump and see some numbers!

*please note that there has been a correction made to the slalom number on the following page.*

Vehicle: 2010 Volkswagen GTI

Odometer: 2,103

Date: 03/23/2010

Driver: Josh Jacquot

Price: $25,454


Drive Type: Front-wheel drive

Transmission Type: Six-speed manual

Engine Type: Turbocharged, direct-injected inline-4

Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,984cc (121 cu-in)

Redline (rpm): 6,200

Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 200 @ 5,100

Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 207 @ 1,800

Brake Type (front): 12.3-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers

Brake Type (rear): 11.3-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers

Steering System: Electric-assist speed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering

Suspension Type (front): Independent MacPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar

Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar

Tire Size (front): 225/40R18 92H

Tire Size (rear): 225/40R18 92H

Tire Brand: Dunlop

Tire Model: Sp Sport 01

Tire Type: All season

Wheel Material (front/rear): Cast Aluminum

As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,097

Test Results:

0 - 30 (sec): 2.8

0 - 45 (sec): 4.7

0 - 60 (sec): 7.0

0 - 75 (sec): 9.7

1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 15.0 @ 95.2

0 - 60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 6.6

30 - 0 (ft): 34

60 - 0 (ft): 130

Braking Rating: Average

Slalom (mph): 65.5 (traction 'off') 64.1 (trac on)

Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.87

Handling Rating: Poor

Acceleration Comments: There doesn't seem to be any "magic launch" to get this car off the line. Moderate wheelspin is quicker than bog-n-go.

Braking Comments: Some pedal jump-in, lots of stink but no fade.

Handling Comments:

Skidpad: Marginally receptive to lift throttle at limits, but always kept in check by stability control of course. Slalom: Why can't I disable stability control on this Sport Compact car? Silly. Just silly. And it does slalom speeds no favors.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Trip To Yosemite

May 03, 2010


Five and a half hours of driving time for just two hours of park time. From a time efficiency standpoint, my weekend trip to Yosemite National Park was a failure. But from a car enthusiast perspective, I was driving a new VW GTI on miles of curvy road while surrounded by beautiful scenery. Maybe it wasn't so bad after all...

I decided to take my wife and two-year-old daughter to Yosemite on Saturday. Spring is a good time to go as the waterfalls are big and the crowds are, well, less big than those during the summer. And I thought my daughter would enjoy walking through the woods and seeing the falls. But we started late, and the little one started to get rather cranky. Then a lack of convenient parking squashed any remaining desire to spend more time in the park.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: This Is How a Four-Cylinder Gearbox Should Feel

April 19, 2010

I'm not usually a fan of finger-tip shifters. You know the type, so light through the gates that you feel like you could rip the thing right off with one forceful yank of the lever. That kind of delicacy usually doesn't feel right, but not in this GTI.

In this car, the light shift action feels nearly perfect. Quick from gate to gate, notchy on the way into gear and not so delicate that you feel the need to be gentle. The fact that it's matched to one of the best four-cylinders around doesn't hurt either. Together, they make ripping around in this GTI as much fun as anything else in the fleet. I think Jordan may have been on to something with his whole M3 comparison.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 4,173 miles

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Better Than an M3

April 16, 2010


This is some great car. It's not that it's less than half the price as an M3; it's that it's more than twice as good as an M3.

Back when it was new, the newly fuel-injected Golf GTi was the M3 of its time, a useful automobile that could be driven seriously fast. It had taken the place of the BMW 2002, the famous Whispering Bomb (a name that probably has its roots in V-1 rockets of WWII), which itself had just been replaced by the brand-new 3 Series, a car quickly dismissed by enthusiasts as oversize, stodgy and truck-like.

Just like the modern-day BMW M3, the Golf GTi could be hammered down the autobahn in the fast lane and then could spend a day in the mountains for adventures on the alpine passes. In the corners, it would cock one rear wheel in the air at every corner, a side-effect of its torsion beam axle and actually a measure of great handling balance, not its absence. When the car came to the U.S. in 1983 and became newly capitalized as the GTI, its 90-hp engine was big news. As time went on, Volkswagen tried to justify the car's escalating price with the Euro car's package of luxury options, which included the VR6 engine and softer suspension, but the ever-increasing price tag ultimately chased everyone away.

And now the GTI is back, pretty much as we remember it.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Zoom On This

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 caché 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

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Error 404: Hot Hatch not Found

April 07, 2010


Most of the blog entries so far discussing our 2010 Volkswagen GTI have revolved around interior bits-- the wheel, the seats and their position and plaidness-- and other functional elements. This is not because we're wowed by the interior (though it is very nice) it's because dynamically, the GTI just isn't any fun. The graph above explains quite clearly. (MS3 is our 2010 MazdaSpeed 3.)

The steering is numb. The engine makes great noises but never feels energetic. The clutch and shifter are damped by at least 15 inches of yogurt. The ESP can't be turned off and lays the smack down as soon as you get on a twisty road.

No doubt this is a great value for money. The GTI is a solid, well priced car. It's just not any fun.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2010 Volkswagen GTI: Does It Really Need More Power?

March 12, 2010

When we posted our intro of the long-term GTI there was a chorus of comments saying we should chip the thing for more power. It's cheap, it's easy and totally reversible. What could go wrong?

Well, I'm sure nothing would go wrong, but after driving it for a couple of days I'm not so sure it needs more power. Actually, let me qualify that, I don't think it needs more power right now.

This engine already delivers enough power to get the wheels spinning for traction. It's good fun around town, but I suspect that a quick run on a twisty road would expose the GTI's handling limits way before any lack of power.

So yes, more power would be nice, but if I were going to spend my money on upgrades I would probably start with a tighter suspension setup first.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 1,361 miles

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Past Long-Term Road Tests