2010 Automobile of the Year: 2010 Volkswagen GTI

Regis Lefebure

Underneath its attractive new sheetmetal, the GTI is pretty much the same car as it was before, but a bigger rear antiroll bar effectively eradicates the car's understeer on the racetrack. VW also added so-called XDS programming to the stability control system to mimic a limited-slip differential, helping the GTI put its power down more efficiently. And as good as the GTI is on the road, with crisp steering, a supercommunicative chassis, and a firm but well-damped ride, on the track the car is a revelation. During our Automobile of the Year and All-Stars evaluation drive program, we drove a rich selection of the hottest new cars for 2010 during a day at GingerMan Raceway in southwest Michigan, including a Chevrolet Camaro SS, a Ford Mustang GT, a Porsche Panamera S, a Jaguar XFR, a BMW Z4, and a Porsche Cayman S. As exhilarating as they all were, the GTI was not in the least bit out of its league as it jostled among them on GingerMan's entertaining road course. Check out the logbook commentary from pit lane: "Remarkably competent on the track," said tech editor Don Sherman. "Superb handling and good feedback," seconded road test coordinator Mike Ofiara, who has a Mark 3 and a Mark 5 GTI at home. "Oodles of fun," enthused contributor Preston Lerner, adding, "front-wheel drive never seemed to be an issue." Copy editor Rusty Blackwell ordained it "the best slicer and dicer on the market today," while editor-in-chief Jean Jennings succinctly called it "a superb little rocket." Before we hit the track, Cammisa bemoaned the fact that stability control cannot be fully switched off, but even he admitted, at the end of the day, that "it's really a nonissue, as it still lets you get away with murder."

The GTI also distinguishes itself from other pretenders to the pocket-rocket throne with its interior, which we already admired in the Mark 5, especially the retro plaid upholstery (happily, it carries over to the Mark 6, and leather is optional). "The interior of the Mark 6," enthused Cammisa, "is a huge improvement on something that really didn't need much help to begin with." Luxury doesn't come at the expense of function, though: "I love the firmly bolstered seats, the flat-bottomed steering wheel with red stitching and aluminum accents, the driving position, and the great outward visibility," noted senior editor Joe Lorio. "And the back seats are spacious, with room for a six-footer to sit behind a six-foot driver."

Superfast pms
@primeautobug LOL - The GTI would DESTROY the Cobalt on the track. The fact that you have the balls to compare a crappy American car to a proven winner is a joke! The GTI wins in every category and I laugh profusely at your insanely ridiculous statistics! See you on the track as my GTI leaves you eating dust!
Jeff P
AUTOMOBILE goofed on this one. The GTI doesn't deserve this because there's another in it's class that is better in almost every way and over $4,000 cheaper. Namely, the CHEVROLET COBALT SS, especially the coupe. It looks better, in my opinion, for starters. It's turbo 4 puts out 60 more horses pushing a car that's 200 pounds lighter. The SS smokes the GTI to 60 mph by more than a half-second and easily beats it in the quater-mile. The SS chassis is better, consistently posting over .9g on the skidpads and way faster numbers in the slalom tests. The brakes are better and the steering seems to be about the same. The SS gets better gas mileage as well. In addition, it set the front-wheel-drive production car record at the Nurburgring. What more can you ask for? Sure, the interior materials are rather cheap-but don't forget that you're getting all of this class-leading performance for a savings of $4,000 over the GTI. The COBALT SS needs to get the respect it richly deserves.
Edward A. Sanchez
I definitely vote for a long-term test on this one, as I still have doubts about the longer-term reliability and durability of VWs.
Speed_3
Well, at least automobile of the year didn't go to a Kia, then I would have really lost faith. Yeah the GTI is great and I get it, but I honestly wasn't rooting for it and would have liked to see a differant car take the honor, one that really is ground breaking.
bobfromguam
I just drove one of these and must say it was pure brilliance on the road, I could not believe how much fun it was.
GopherSZS
The GTI was a four-seasons vehicle; it's cycle ended around June 2008. Automobile opted for the DSG transmission. If I remember correctly, service and reliability were not a problem.
grant74
I really like the GTI, but was burned by VW reliability and service one too many times and bought a WRX a few years ago. I second the request for a Four Seasons test of the new GTI--I want to see if it might be worth the heartbreak to own another VW!
SpeedyF1
I'm begging you guys for a Four Seasons long-term test of the GTI. Pleeeeseeee :)

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