After Six Generations of GTI, VW Still Stays Young in Hot Hatch

January 16, 2010/Steve Tackett

MOTOR MATTERS NEW ON WHEELS BY CONNIE KEANE

No one can make a hatchback as fun to drive the way Volkswagen does. For close to 30 years now VW has cornered the “hot hatch” segment. Year after year countless young enthusiast drivers have hopped into the fast hatch. For nearly three decades the VW GTI hatchback has stayed timelessly youthful.
Now in its sixth generation, the all-new 2010 GTI remains a sprite compact, filled with energetic enthusiasm. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine — featuring the state-of-the-art fuel performance technology of FSI direct fuel injection — the GTI goes from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds with the standard six-speed manual transmission. Like a yellow Labrador puppy with boundless energy, the GTI is eager to please. A tap on the gas pedal instantly sends the turbo engine charging from a standing-stop. Slight turbo lag, however, was noticed during the test drive when slowing to a stop and then pressing hard to fast acceleration, such as when merging.
My tester featured the optional six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic. Volkswagen’s $1,100 optional automatic Direct Shift Gearbox is a dual-clutch system that engages the gears like a manual transmission would. VW engineers explain that a computer controls the shift process: One clutch is engaged onto the next gear while the other clutch is being released from the previous gear. This automated DSG system is smart and advanced as it beats the 0-to-60 mph time of the manual transmission by one-tenth of a second, going from zero to 60 in 6.7 seconds.
The GTI will require premium gasoline and gets better EPA fuel economy ratings from the automatic transmission than the manual does: 24 miles per gallon city, 32 mpg highway vs. the manual’s 21/31 mpg ratings.
The 2010 front-wheel drive GTI is available in two-door and four-door hatchback models with a starting price of $23,290.

I drove the four-door version, which offers loads of convenience for back seat passengers as the doors have wide-swing open access.
The four-door tester with a base price of $23,890 had some options that drove the out-the-door price to $28,684. The pricey Autobahn Package was steeply set at $2,795. It featured three things: a power sunroof, partial leather seat covering, plus front sport seats. I can see paying this price if the package also included the available 18-inch alloy wheels, but they are a $750 option. The standard wheels are 17 inchers that are sharp looking with the red-painted calipers showing through the alloy spokes.
The 2010 GTI comes with 40 standard safety features with the Prevent and Preserve Safety System, including electronic stability control and six airbags.
Volkswagen keeps its European sport-tuned GTI fresh in appearance with a redesigned exterior that highlights a more aggressive front end, still retaining the hallmark red stripe outline and black honeycomb grille. And the rear-end didn’t get shorted in the styling department either. The rear flanks that house the tail lighting assembly have sporty shoulders that convey an almost Audi-inspired richness and sophistication. Quite unexpected in a small VW hatchback. — Connie Keane, Motor Matters

Next New On Wheels: 2010 Suzuki Kizashi

SPECIFICATIONS
2010 VOLKSWAGEN GTI
VEHICLE TYPE_________________ 5-passenger FWD compact hatchback
BASE PRICE___________________ $23,890 (as tested: $28,684)
ENGINE TYPE__________________ 16-valve turbocharged 4-cylinder
DISPLACEMENT_________________ 2.0-liter
HORSEPOWER (net)_____________ 200 at 6000 rpm
TORQUE (lb.-ft.)_____________ 207 at 1800-5000 rpm
TRANSMISSION_________________ 6-speed automatic
WHEELBASE____________________ 101.5 in.
OVERALL LENGTH_______________ 165.8 in.
CURB WEIGHT__________________ 3,080 lbs.
FUEL CAPACITY________________ 14.5 gal.
EPA MILEAGE RATING___________ 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway

Spare Parts
TRUCK OF THE YEAR: Ford scored a historic doubleheader, capturing both the North American Car of the Year and North American Truck of the Year awards for the Fusion Hybrid and Transit Connect. The new Transit Connect fills unmet needs of small businesses and fleets, offering them a new vehicle choice with significantly improved fuel economy, generous and accessible cargo space, and the agility and maneuverability to operate in crowded urban areas. Powered by a 2.0-liter I-4 engine with a four-speed automatic transmission, the Transit Connect offers double the fuel economy of full-size vans, delivering an EPA-estimated 22 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
ASK THE AUTO DOCTOR: Why do I notice a high pitch squeal on my 2005 Toyota Corolla at speeds of 75 to 80 mph? If I slow down to 60 mph, the sound disappears. Answer: Wind noise at high speeds can come from side mirrors, side antenna by the windshield, windshield moldings, even the front grille. To try and pinpoint wind noise, use a gray duct tape between the various areas to test for wind sound elimination. Remove the duct tape right away so it does not leave any residue on the surface. (Source: Ask the Auto Doctor, Motor Matters)
WINTER DRIVING TIP: Beware of the “phantom shoulder” on roads. As snow plows clear the roadway, they use a side-mounted “wing” to push snow well off the side of the road. Many times what appears to be a very wide road or wide shoulder is in fact only snow plowed to the same level as the roadway, hiding steep drop offs. If you must pull to the side of the road, do so slowly and be prepared to steer smoothly back toward the road if the vehicle begins to sink. (Source: Bridgestone)
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010

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