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Rock-It Science 101

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Sep 15, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Volkswagen GTI

By Zoran Segina THE SILENT LAMENT OF THE KO 998 275 A On Friday morning, the KO 998 275 A just about had it. Ever being a polite electronic device—a tire sensor on the Candy White Golf GTI—it sent a “please check your tire pressure” message to the electronic display on the dashboard, and lit up a yellow warning light with a tire mark on the speedometer. What the KO 998 really wanted to say was this: “Look here, dude! You had this car for almost three days now. How many more crazy “step-on-it-until-the-wheels-fall-off” accelerations do you need before you are convinced that the turbocharged two- liter engine above me has enough capacity to do the job in every situation? You are shifting the six-speed DSG Tiptronic transmission looking for the torque steer which just isn’t there. We head in the direction you pointed us, and no amount of your torturing the car will change that. Others have tried. And what about those abrupt stops that hurt my eighteen-inch Dunlops so much? Volkswagen not only gave you low profile wide tires but stuck behind them 12-inch disc (disk) brakes in the front and 11 inchers in the back. Of course they can stop the GTI on a dime. Or if you want to be technical, in 175 feet from seventy miles to zero. Why do you need to turn corners with such wild abandon? You are looking for understeer because you believe that all front wheel powered cars should have it. And what did you find? That our engineers at Volkswagen eliminated it. The car is neutral in corners. Which is more than I can say for you.


I see you like SIRIUS satellite radio. On Thursday, while zipping through traffic, you annoyed us by blasting Jimmy Buffet live concert on Margaritaville channel. To have all the pre-programmed stations on the rotary dial behind the touch screen is really handy. And I understand you like Sinatra. But the Bluegrass Junction? It would be very relaxing for all if you kept the shifter in the D (for “drive” or “docile”) position as long as possible. You noticed that the GTI, despite its long sporty pedigree, can be driven around as a very relaxing hatchback. That will also bring the fuel economy up from the nadir where it is right now, owing to your race driver shenanigans. If you are up to it, take the car to the track, and prove how good you really are. Strap yourself in the bucket seats, adjust the rake on the telescoping steering wheel, brace your left foot against that big metal rest (it was placed there for that very purpose) and go. You can drive in fully automatic S mode (which we strongly recommend given your driving), or use the sequential six-gear electronic transmission by simply pushing the shifter to the right. If you don’t mess up the sequence use the electronic paddle shifter. Just remember - left hand lower gear, right hand higher gear. The inside of the trunk looks like the bratwurst locker with all the stuff you hung on the hooks. To prevent things from rolling around. So is the elastic net on the bottom. We even put the elastic net on the inside trunk cover for small items. And what was this conversation with your buddy BT about launch control? To spin tires? He bought an identical GTI, and now complains about that split-second acceleration delay before the turbocharger kicks in. What do you expect guys? Low end-torque miracles from a two-liter engine? Volkswagen gives you two hundred horsepower in an incredibly stable and surefooted automobile, and now you want instant satisfaction? Don’t even try to explain chasing the motorcycles on the freeway just too see how fast and responsive the car is. If you two did not act like a couple of juvenile reprobates, and drove with more anticipation, you wouldn’t have that problem, would you?


Are you now happy with a turning radius of the GTI? You had us spin all over because of your preconceived notion (again) that a front wheel car cannot turn tightly. Well, this one does. Look, the GTI has been around for thirty-seven years now. Do you really think that a car which was conceived as a successor to the beloved Beetle would be designed half-arse? Okay, okay, I admit that some things could be better. I do not know why the automatic Xenon headlights turn on when you enter the dark underground garage, but the dashboard lights do not. And why the trunk remains locked when you open the door unless you push the unlock button (Editor’s note: variations are programmable via the car’s computer). And why the leather wrapped steering wheel blocks your view of the right side of the speed dial (between us - these are the numbers from 80 to 150 - as in miles per hour - where you should not venture anyway). I am not an engineering executive, I am just a tire sensor. Manually checking the cold tires showed them at the correct 35 PSI.. Which means that the KO 998 275 was wrong. With respect to the tire pressure. The Spooky Department or “It’s alive!”: On the last day of the test, I drove an identical make and model year of the Volkswagen GTI, with approximately the same mileage, belonging to an LA Car writer. The next day the tire sensor warning light appeared on that car’s speedometer. Special thanks to Alex at Santa Monica Volkswagen for helping us identify the KO 998 275 A tire sensor. - Zoran Segina

GTIs come standard with a 6-speed manual transmission

SIDEBAR COMMENT As an auto “journalist”, I did an excessive amount of due diligence before purchasing my GTI. The auto press universally praise the GTI, and owners almost uniformly “love”, their VWs, especially the German “feel” and performance, although many are annoyed with some well known issues that plague VW. Most believe VW is doing a much better job addressing these issues, and all owners I spoke with agreed that I should get the VW as it is an awesome car. I figured I would roll the dice, get an extended warranty, and hopefully love my GTI. Well, “I do” love my GTI. So far as the concerns, my dear friend Zoran needles me for complaining “about that split-second acceleration delay before the turbo-charger kicks in.” Ok, I guess I shouldn’t expect the 2.0 to do “low-end torque miracles”. And while I find it a bit annoying, truth is it only occurs in D, and can be overcome with aggressive depression of the accelerometer pedal. While in S or manual, the GTI accelerates quickly, especially when you spin up the turbo. While the GTI may not be as quick its so-called competitors, such as the WRX & MazdaSpeed3, truth is, it has no competition. The auto media’s universal opinion that the GTI is much more refined is right on target. The GTI is simply a better car than any other in its class. Also, if you truly desire more performance, consider a few basic modifications. Just one example is that for $800 or so you get about 25 percent more horsepower! That’s just a stage 1 mod. The son of one of LA Car’s writers has a stage 1 on his GTI. There are few adjectives to describe how much fun it is. Combine the superior refinement of the GTI with the practicality of the large hatch, it’s incredible performance, and the ability to enhance performance with some basic, inexpensive modifications, and the GTI simply has no competition. Yes, the Mini Cooper S and Volvo C30 T5 are fast and fun, but not nearly as practical.


If 25 percent more horsepower for $800, pulling a hatch that is, ah, practical, is not enough to fall in love with, than how about this? On Tuesday night, my GTI saved my life. Upon returning from my home in Big Bear after a long weekend, I had a glorious time tossing the car around on the switchbacks while driving down the mountain. Heck, the drive is half the reason I bought the mountain house, and the GTI for that matter. Just add a bit of snow and ice and I’m in heaven. My concentration lagged upon hitting flat land. While merging onto the highway, something I routinely do, I didn’t notice the very big rig just to the left and rear of me. The big rig came alongside, then forward of me as my onramp quickly disappeared. I got that instant fear of imminent death, an adrenaline rush, and went 10-100, which thankfully is better than 10-200. Being the expert auto aficionado that I am, did I hit the amazing front 12.2 inch vented discs with ABS anti-lock, engine braking assist (EBA) and rear 11.2 inch solid discs with ABS anti-lock brakes? Of course not. My reaction was to jam the accelerator, spin up the turbo, fight the G’s, and sling shot around the truck, in the nick of time. Had I been driving a naturally aspirated Subaru, the darling of mountain folk, or many other so called “safe” cars for that matter, I likely would have joined my old Soobie that died on that very highway earlier this year. I don’t lament having 200 hp that is available when needed, in a car which handles so crisply, looks classy, is dignified and refined, gets great MPG, and can carry most of the stuff I need. I’m sold on the hot hatch. And the GTI is the best hot hatch on the market. - BT Justice For more information on Volkswagen products, go to


SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen GTI Price: $23,695 (base) $24,795 (with DSG Tiptronic automatic) $29,070 (as tested) EPA fuel mileage rating (city/highway miles per gallon): 21/31 (manual) 24/32 (DSG Tiptronic automatic) Engine type: 2.0 liter direct injected, turbocharged dual overhead cam 16-valve in-line four Horsepower: 200 @ 5100-6000 rpm Torque: 207 lb-ft @ 1800-5000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine / front-wheel drive Transmission type: Six-speed manual transmission (six-speed DSG automatic transmission with sequential shifting feature and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters optional) Suspension: Independent strut sport front suspension; independent multi-link sport rear suspension Wheels and tires: 17-inch alloy “Denver” wheels standard; 18-inch alloy “Detroit” wheels optional 225/45R-17 summer tires standard 225/40R-18 summer tires optional (as equipped) Brakes: Front: Vented discs, vacuum assist, 11.9-inch diameter, red painted calipers Rear: Solid discs, vacuum assist, 11.6-inch diameter, red painted calipers Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), anti-lock braking system (ABS), Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) Dimensions Overall length: 165.8 inches Overall width: 70.0 inches Overall height: 57.8 inches Curb weight (lbs.): 3034 (manual)/3080 (DSG) Performance Top Speed, mph: 130 mph (electronically limited) 0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds (DSG automatic) 6.8 seconds (manual)


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