The original GTI’s were essentially Rabbits with a little more guts. Now GTI’s come with an assortment of options that make you feel like you are at least APPROACHING luxury. MSRP for the 4-door GTI is $22,600 and $22,200 for the 2-door but will push towards the mid to upper 20 grand mark with addition of several options. A 4-door with power sunroof, satellite radio, heated leather sport seats and dual-zone climate system puts the car at $29,290. That’s certainly not cheap, but the difference between a GTI and any number of other hatchbacks on the market is measured by drivability. I’m not talking about a trip to the IKEA to get the new Flarbendakken. I mean driving it like it has paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Oh yeah, it does!
The GTI reaches 60 mph in 6.7 seconds launched by a 2.0-liter intercooled, direct-injected turbo four-cylinder that produces 200 horsepower and 207-lb.feet of torque. That doesn’t sound like much but as with most things, it’s not the size that matters but how you use it. The six-speed manual transmission coupled with an excellent turbo coaxes about as much kinetic energy out of a small car as possible. The automatic (which gives you access to the steering wheel paddles) is almost as quick as the manual.
As you would expect the suspension is a bit on the firm side, but not overly abrasive. Which will be appreciated if you intend on exploring the car’s handling abilities. Given a conservative driving attitude you can expect to coax nearly 32 miles out of a gallon of gas on the highway.
I’m not sure if aesthetically a hatchback can look much better than the GTI. I don’t mean because it looks so great, I think it looks ok but it IS a hatchback, what do you expect. Perhaps the Mini is just as stylish, but the GTI looks and feels like a substantial car, whereas the Mini lives up to its name. For pseudo-adults like me, it is just aggressive enough not to look girly, but not so overdone that you are mistaken for someone who thinks a giant spoiler on the back of an Eclipse looks good. But it is what it is. It’s a VW, it’s a hatchback…..and it goes like hell.