Test Drive: 2010 Volkswagen GTI


The new 2010 Volkswagen GTI is a stylish and versatile piece of machinery. This latest installment in the GTI’s nearly three-decade existence has been restyled to provide the driver with a sleek exterior, a comfortable interior, and plenty of power for moving around in the daily grind.

VW wanted us to drive test out this new car so bad, I was flown out to San Fran and put up in a swanky hotel for three nights where I was wined and dined. It was hard leaving my blue-collar routine in Detroit, but someone has to do it.

gti2You know what though, I was thoroughly impressed with how the 2010 GTI performed during normal everyday driving and not-so-normal parking lot autocross racing. VW was even kind enough to provide me with one of their TDI cup drivers, Perry Richardson, to show me how to put the Mk VI GTI through its paces.

The two courses provided were set up thusly: a slow speed course that was very technical with numerous tight corners and switchbacks. Then there was a high-speed course, which featured a couple of good sweeping corners and a slalom at the end of it. Perry took me through both courses, explaining his technique to navigate through the sea of orange cones as he drove.

gti3Then it was my turn. While a total blast to drive, my driving skills were not on the same level as Perry’s. Nonetheless, this event displayed just how powerful Volkswagen’s direct injected turbocharged 2.0L four cylinders are that making 200 SAE hp at 5,100-6,000 rpms and 207 lbs-ft. of torque from 1,800-5,000 RPMs. The 16-valve DOHC engine and six-speed manual transmission propels the GTI to a respectable 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds. The standard transmission allows the GTI to achieve a decent 21 city/ 31 hwy. MPG (EPA est.).


Now, as much fun as a manual gearbox is to drive, VW’s optional six-speed automatic with DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) gives the driver the ability to just get in drive and go, or put it into manual mode and control the up shifts and down shifts. The DSG automatic utilizes a computer to control the dual clutch system, telling one clutch to engage the next gear while the other clutch releases the current gear. The result is a smooth, crisp shifting, better acceleration (0-60 in 6.7 seconds), and improved fuel economy (24 city/32 hwy.).

A very neat feature on the automatic gearbox is the launch control. All you have to do is set the transmission into manual mode in first gear. Then turn off the traction control, put one foot on the brake and the other one the accelerator pedal. Release the brake pedal and let it fly! All this power is transmitted to either the standard 17 inch x 7 inch or the optional 18 inch x 7.5 inch wheels and “European-tuned” suspension.

gti4While the wheels were stylish enough, I thought the suspension was almost too firm for a daily driven vehicle. Don’t get me wrong, I like a firm, responsive ride, but I felt like I was home in the pothole-riddled state of Michigan while driving around the surface streets of San Francisco. It’s not a bad ride, I just think they could improve on it some more.

Then there is the interior. It’s clean, functional, and easy enough to access the back in the two-door models. The front seats are very sport-minded and hold you in place during various… let’s just say fun maneuvers throughout your drive.

I love the fact that an integrated an iPod connection into the car. This makes jamming your favorite tunes a breeze on either the standard touchscreen radio or the optional navigation system with a 30 GB hard drive (20 GB of which can be devoted to music). Both of these radios support Bluetooth, so you can keep in touch with everyone hands-free.

How much is it, you ask? The base starts out at $23,290 and goes on up from there. It is available in six different colors: Deep Black Metallic, Candy White, Tornado Red, United Gray Metallic, Carbon Steel Gray Metallic, and Shadow Blue Metallic. Let me suggest checking out what 25-years of GTI heritage has created.