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Published on Sat, Apr 17, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Driving impressions of the 2010 Volkswagen GTI By Doug Stokes I’ve been calling this one the “Golf GTI” but I guess that I’ve got it wrong. Our friends in Wolfsburg lit it as the GTI and picture it on their Web site as standing alone, so I’ll have to second that notion. This machine features one of the best exhaust snarls I’ve experienced in a long time. The GTI features dual pipes and the satisfying sound that blipping the throttle on downshifts lets out is a real treat. In fact, this six-speed equipped machine made me quite happy that I learned how to double-clutch a long time ago in my ’54, 1132cc, cloth sunroof Beetle with the reversed rear wheels, no less. Although you really don’t need to employ that type of labor-intensive technique to get down the gears, it just sounds so right.

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Hunkered down on “Denver” 17-inch alloy wheels with wide (245), squat (45) Contis rolled on them, this machine featured little flashes and slashes of nail polish red to officially and distinctly badge itself as “not a Golf.” The look is not stealthy either, this is an aggressive little 4-door hatchback that sits heroically over its wheels with just the right tilt aft-to-fore. What really says “GTI” best is the crisp, “Let’s have at it boys,” handling. This one is all grip and all grin. Of course that’s why most Volks folks pay the extra tariff to purchase the GTI edition. I think that they’ve really got their monies worth here.

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I enjoyed the seats. They are extra long, the horizontal direction, and support my legs just about to my knees. Perfect! Of course my wife, Dede, hated the feature as much as I appreciated it, saying: “You like it to feel like a racing car,” (to which all other potential answers are hereby considered moot). The front seats are serviced by a nice set of individually controlled warmers and the seats are covered in a smart tartan fabric that puts us in mind of another German manufacturer’s competition cars of another era. Even the squared-off, flat-bottomed, leather-wrapped steering wheel has the perfect low lying grips for my hot little hands. However, the best part is that the steering wheel is directly connected to a very sharp electro-mechanical steering that leads directly to fantastic handling. Feel is everything and this car has a real road feel.

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(Doug Stokes) With all the road feel and high level of grip, you’d think that that the car would be louder, but the noise is very nominal. Driving north on the 605—which I do quite often—I really had to look at the dash to judge my speed. In the days of yore, great handling almost always asked one to sacrifice a certain amount for road racing manners. Not so here. I rode in the read seat as an unnamed law enforcement officer/friend and pedaled the GTI to dinner one night, and I must say that having my eyes closed most of the time helped me to better concentrate on the fact that the street was getting pounded on pretty good and not the car’s white-knuckled occupants.

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The engine is a 2-liter (1,984cc), overhead cam, 4-cylinder stormer that directly demonstrates all of the features and benefits of direct fuel injection and integrated turbo charging in one seamless package. The GTI’s crispness with throttle pickup in any gear cajoled me into hanging back a little in traffic, and at freeway ramps so I could get a better shot at some moderate-to-heavy right pedal application. Nothing crazy, but it was quite satisfying nonetheless. The real secret is the wonderful balance of horsepower and torque that the people in the lab coats, back in Wolfsburg, have been able to produce with this engine. Two hundred horsepower aided, abetted, and (frankly) egged-on by 207 pounds-feet of torque makes for some sweet acceleration. Definitely worth a trip to your local VW dealer for a test drive.

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SIDEBAR COMMENT We also tested a GTI with the six-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) automatic transmission with its Porsche-licensed Tiptronic ® sequential manual paddle shifters. This is the dual-clutch transmission that is quicker than a manual. Not only does the automatic GTI accelerate faster than the manual stick-shift, it also gets better gas mileage. But the most compelling reason to go auto can be summed up in two words: Launch Control. This little feature allows you to have jack rabbit standing starts in the GTI. It’s akin to revving your engine up to 3500 rpm and then dropping the clutch. That Volkswagen chose to include this feature in a fully warranted factory car is amazing. It almost should be illegal, but it’s not. My suggestion: Get one before it is. – Roy Nakano For more information about Volkswagen products, go to vw.com

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Volkswagen GTI Price: $23,290 (2-door, 6-speed manual) $24,390 (2-door, 6-speed DSG Tiptronic) $23,890 (4-door, 6-speed manual) $24,990 (4-door, 6-speed DSG Tiptronic) 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

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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) Top Speed, mph: 130 mph (electronically limited) 0-60 mph: 6.7 seconds (DSG automatic) 6.8 seconds (manual)

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(Doug Stokes)

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