2010 Volkswagen GTI
Abraham Rodriguez / Managing Editor
The hatchback. It’s small and light, highly maneuverable and packs an unexpected
bite. It’s a Chihuahua, the kind you stuff in a purse and barks all the time, snarls at you with its ugly zombie-dog face and gets the shakes for random reasons.
This analogy would perhaps better suit the used Honda crowd seen driving around with huge exhaust cans and Raiders stickers covering up the rear window *cough* East Oakland *cough*. This wouldn’t be true of the 2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
The Golf is V-dub’s reputed hatchback and returns in its sixth generation with a redesign and upgraded goodies. The Golf comes with several trim levels, such as the Golf TDI and GTI.
I wasn’t there to cuddle with the gas-saver econo-options though. I was there for a Doberman in sheep’s clothing. This was the GTI. A turbo 4 cylinder version of the Golf pushing 207 feet of torque and 200 horses that amazingly got better gas mileage than the regular Golf.
The GTI comes in with a 6-speed manual or a 6 speed automatic with paddle shifters. The model driven was an automatic with four doors, obviously ideal for a four-seater. New for 2010 is a touch screen stereo system with satellite radio and six-disc CD changer. It comes with an iPod connection in the center console and an auxiliary input jack close to the emergency brake handle in the middle.
The glove box is cooled, which helps with food and drinks on long drives. The moon roof is complex and has more features than I can remember. The Volkswagen GTI has a ton of interior features, and even with the lack of swanky leather seats, I was impressed.
The exterior of the car has a slight distinct look from the regular Golfs. The honeycomb black grill has time attack style red striping and uses the GTI’s original badge. Appearance-wise, it’s no more malignant looking than the other Golfs.
Not until I was driving Buicks on 22-inch rims off the road and going wide open throttle in Oakland’s Third World streets did I realized what I was dealing with. Even under the most horrendous of road conditions the suspension kept movement tight and precise, even more so when boosting in and out of traffic.
This rally-style rumpus left us in the hills of Oakland longing for more open road. Luckily, the freeway on-ramp was just a hair away. Pushing this hatch rocket on the freeway and seeing electronic speed signs flash red urging me to stop only made it better. Zipping in and out of traffic and lanes, I maneuvered from left to right, avoiding work trucks, left lane losers and police checkpoints.
Every time you push that gas peddle down, it literally pushes back. Hear the turbos wind up and the car kicks into berserk mode.
The highlight of my time with the GTI was getting acquainted with its launch control system. Hold down the brake pedal and slam the gas pedal, let it rev and let go of the brake. You’ll be flying down the street before you know it.
In the last issue, we applauded the Suzuki Kizashi for having a mafia-sized trunk big enough to fit not just one, but two people comfortably. I’m saddened to say that this time I was not able to put the GTI’s trunk to the test but I was assured by our VW representative that a full-sized person can fit.
The Golf GTI is the only sensible option for those with an appetite for speed and practical city driving. If speed isn’t your thing, the base Golf model is a cheap alternative. It starts at around $18,000 and gets 1 mile per gallon less than the GTI. The Golf TDI is the ultimate gas saver here and features a 2.0L, 140 horsepower turbo diesel and an awesome 236 lbs.-ft of torque, more than the GTI. It also gets 30 mpg in the city and 41 in the highway and starts at around $22,000.
The GTI is a fun car that’s great for spirited driving and inner city hustle and bustle. I grew fond of this pint-sized Doberman and my 5-pound Chihuahua would agree. They both neither shake or look the part.
For more automotive features check out Abraham Rodriguez’s personal blog at http://www.kinetic-sound.com.