The Volkswagen GTI was the original performance orientated hot hatchback and still ranks amongst the gold standard in this class. Offered in both three door and fiver-door body styles for GTI fans, the 2011 Golf GTI has a new look with redesigned bumpers, lights, a more streamlined design and other changes both inside and out.
Two distinct red stripes across the front grille separate the traditional red- badged GTI from the rest of the Golf line up. Interior wise, its racy, red double-stitching across the gear shifter, hand brake and a unique racing style flat-bottomed steering wheel add a dramatic touch. A 6.5-inch touch screen is surrounded by a neat functional ergonomic layout of instruments and controls. Delightfully retro, old-school Plaid “Jacky” cloth Sport seats come standard or you can opt for leather trimmed seat buckets with the Leather Luxury Package with a Power Sunroof.
In its most basic from, the three-door six-speed manual version, the sixth generation 2010 Golf GTI has a starting price of $28,675.
That may sound expensive for a small hatchback, but the quality, heritage and performance star of the line Golf lineup does come with a decent roster of standard equipment. The base GTI arrives with six airbags, 17-inch alloy wheels, eight-way manually adjustable sport seats with lumbar support, Bi-Xenon headlamps with Adaptive Front Light System, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, cruise control, a Premium 8 AM/FM audio system with six-disc CD changer, a SD card input, eight speakers and integrated SIRIUS satellite radio. Word of caution, those optional, 18- inch wheel pinwheel alloys are so big and delicate looking, it will be a nightmare to ensure they do not get scratched and kerbed. I actually made it through the test week without marking a single one of them! I shudder to think how much they would cost to replace.
Stand out is the awesome, award-winning 2.0-litre TSI direct fuel-injection inline four-cylinder 16-valve engine that produces 200 hp and 207 lbs-ft of continuous torque from a low 1,700 rpm all the way to a tractable 5,000 rpm. Teamed with the GTI‘s lightweight sport suspension and a full complement of handling technologies and aids, the GTI goes, handles and stops as well as it should.
ABS braking, Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP), and the all-new Electronic Transverse Differential Lock System (XDS). Developed from VW’s racing experience are included. XDS monitors input from the wheel sensors to transfer torque to the wheel with the most traction under heavy cornering.
The 2010 Volkswagen GTI does not have the most horsepower in its class, but when teamed up with the delightful six-speed manual transmission as standard, or optional, the six-speed dual-clutch automated DSG shifter – things get very exciting. DSG transmission can be shifted manually via the shift lever or paddles on the steering wheel, or it can shift on its own in automatic mode. The DSG is notable for its super fast shift speeds in manual mode and yet is remarkably smooth in automatic mode. With decent mid-range power from the four cylinder, this new GTI is still as much fun as previous generations and just begs to be driven hard. When you really let the GTI off the leash, the supple compliant suspension work in complete harmony with a stiff, rigid wonderfully engineered chassis allowing for extra sporty handling ability and fast accurate cornering. Fuel efficient, comfortable and eminently refined the Golf’s fuel consumption for the manual transmission is City: 10.0 L/100 km- Hwy: 6.6 L/100 km. For the automatic it is City: 8.7 L/100 km and Hwy: 6.3 L/100 km. As I said, the GTI is not the most powerful in its class, but this GTI is still amongst the best hot hatch back money can buy in my book and holds its own. The legend lives on.
2010 Volkswagen Golf GTI (3-door) Priced from $28,675 (More info at www.vw.ca)