VW GTI test drive.

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 The current GTI came out in Europe since late 2012. (Later in the US)
So the design is very familiar.
Basically still an evolution, after all these years, of the original 1970’s Guigiaro Golf design.
It still looks very nice after 5 years.

(the model I tested was a 2017 model, not the revised one for 2018)
Compared to Asian hatchbacks we mostly get here in the US, it still has a refreshing simple look and personality.


 Same thing inside. It is quite roomy everywhere.
Everything is super solid and well put together. (The doors feel amazingly solid)
And everything looks and feels like a high end car. This is really as nice (or nicer) as an Audi.

The model I had was a loaded SE. So it came with pretty much everything.
Including the always great Fender stereo.
Now with Apple CarPlay . Which works great.

 The best part of the hatch is this.

A super roomy small car that can fit tons of stuff inside. Without getting an SUV.

 I was still surprised by a few things missing. This SE being the loaded model.
Like the rear view mirror. With its old fashion manual switch.

 Or the “power seat”. Which still requires mostly manual adjustments.
Come on…. In 2017, a power seat should not have any manual adjustment at all in a $33 000 car…

 I tried the custom drive settings.
I left the steering in the “sport” position. The “normal” setting is too light for a sporty car.
I think the Sport should be the setting in Normal. Sport should be even sportier.

Otherwise there isn’t that much of a difference in other settings.
Especially “engine sound”. Where I really couldn’t tell any difference.

 The storage space under the center armrest is, let’s say, limited.

 The drive is, very sporty.
Which totally fits the GTI personality. I mean, it’s how it should be.

Like I mentioned earlier, I wish the steering had a bit more weight to it.
But it does feel great.

The suspension is very firm, which is fine.

The 2.0 Liter is still not as smooth or refined as most others.
It still feels like a quiet diesel at idle. Most of the time.
Otherwise, it is super punshy. You really have to watch it past 2500 RPM. There is just a huge rush of power.

Which is just great fun. But that fun is actually quite limited in real life.
I mean besides freeway onramps, where could you actually drive like this on a regular basis?

Gas mileage is rated at 24City and 32HWY.
I got about 22 in the City. And had no problem getting 35HWY.

 I still don’t like the DSG transmission.
It has gotten better. (It doesn’t feel like the car is stalling when stopping, anymore)
But in D mode it isn’t very willing to downshift.

The best way to use it is the “fake manual” mode. Where you up or down shift yourself.
It works much better this way. With a super quick response.
But the way to go in the GTI would be to get the proper manual.

The worst part of the DSG is still when trying to park uphill. In reverse, sometimes, the car just refuses to move. It raves up, but doesn’t move. Like if in neutral. Then it does.
It happened more than once and it really disturbing.

In normal D mode, there is a general lag in acceleration. Which gets a bit better when shifting manually.
And is probably much easier to control with a proper manual.

Brakes are very strong. But can be pretty abrupt.
It takes a while to figure out how to stop smoothly.

 The GTI is still one of the most fun you could have driving.
Sure, it’s a bit quirky. Which is actually fine.
It all comes out as “personality”.

It is wonderful in the city, but also a great highway driver. With tons of room.
For my taste, I would rather have the 6 speed manual.
And also the cool plaid seats from the base model.
 (But. I don’t think the Fender stereo is even an option on the base car….)

Here is the details of the car I was driving for a week.

Click on the Pix. It gets bigger. 

Conversation 10 comments

  1. Too much money. Too plain. I think you can buy an entry level Nissan 370z for this price… plus didn't VW just get caught for lying and cheating ?

  2. Looks like DEGs/ DCTs (wet or dry) are not yet to be trusted. I thought they were supposed to be flawless in VWs now, I guess not.

  3. I really wish car makers would place felt or some type of materials that are prone to scuff marks such as the lower seat areas and lower door areas.

  4. You can buy a new 2017 GTI S base model 6-speed in the mid-Atlantic for less than $20K. Plenty of inventory, I did. At $20K, the GTI S is a phenomenal value. True you don't get Fender or the sunroof, but it's wicked fast for the money and well built.

  5. The SE is the mid-range model and does NOT come fitted with full-power seats. The Autobahn is the top of the range and does come fitted with full-power seats. Surely a tester should know where in the model range their test car is? Also, some spell-check / editing would be nice.

  6. There is only the Autobahn model above the SE. 2 under.
    And still, for $33 000 it should be powered.

    I am also very against spell check.

  7. It takes a but to stop smoothly. The GTI is still one of the most fun you could have driving.

    "I am also very against spell check."

  8. Curious to see how the next Elantra GT Turbo stacks up to this.. especially given the new, more restrained (Germanic?) styling it seems to have. It will most certainly be less expensive!

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