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."