New Car Reviews

2010 Volkswagen GTI – Four Seasons Update – November 2010

Long-Term 2010 Volkswagen GTI Update: Fall 2010 ( 3 of 5 ) Miles to date: 0

Months in Fleet: 11
Miles to date: 28,150 miles

The Volkswagen GTI, like many new cars, has both digital and analog speed readouts. We’re starting to suspect that neither is all that accurate.

Copy editor Rusty Blackwell was the first to raise an alarm. “I noticed that, at about 60 mph, the digital speedometer is a few mph lower than what’s shown on the needle,” he reports, wondering, “Have analog-needle watchers been driving too slowly all year?”

Not likely. Senior web editor Phil Floraday noticed a discrepancy as well, only this time it was between the digital speedometer and the reliable GPS-based readout on his Passport 9500ix radar detector. “The digital speedometer/cruise control speed is consistently 2 mph lower than what’s displayed on my radar detector,” he writes. This, of course, is an even greater concern, since as Floraday notes, “Just 2 mph can make all the difference in the world on a heavily patrolled highway.” Floraday speculates that the speedometers could be calibrated incorrectly for our optional eighteen-inch wheels, although it’s possible he’s just looking for more reasons to dislike them. “After 27,000 miles of terrible ride quality over anything but perfectly smooth blacktop, I’m completely turned off by these wheels, as much as I initially liked the look,” he grouses. Needless to say, we weren’t all that excited to learn that the big wheels are now standard equipment for 2011.

Regardless of exactly how fast we’ve been driving and how much disdain we have for the rough-riding wheels, there’s little doubt that we’ve squeezed as much fun as possible out of the GTI. As evidence, road test coordinator Mike Ofiara points to the car’s Continental ContiSportContact 2 summer performance tires, which we’ve begrudgingly removed for winter in favor of safe but stodgy Bridgestone Blizzaks.

“The Continentals were so bald that I had them recycled rather than saving them,” Ofiara says.

That’s quite a bit of wear considering we had them on the car for only about seven months and 15,000 miles, but that period includes quite a bit of aggressive driving, including a weekend spent squealing through an autocross course. Even the winter tires haven’t completely dampened the car’s spirit. Indeed, creative director Kelly Murphy reports having no problem “zipping in and out of traffic” like a man on a mission as he did some holiday shopping. “It also helps that I was able to get into the smallest of parking spaces,” he adds.

Alas, the end is in sight for our car, which arrived just in time for Christmas last year. We’ll be sure to have as much turbocharged fun as possible before the grinches from Volkswagen arrive to take away our beloved GTI once our twelve months with the car are up.

2010 Volkswagen GTI

Base price (with dest.): $23,990
Price as tested: $27,255

Body Style: 3-door hatchback
Accommodation: 5-passenger
Construction: Unitized construction, bolt-on front fenders

Engine: Turbocharged in-line 4-cylinder intercooled with direct injection
Displacement: 2.0 liters
Power: 200 hp @ 5100-6000 rpm
Torque: 207 lb-ft @ 1800-5000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Drive: Front-wheel
Fuel economy: 21/31/25 mpg (city/hwy/combined)

Steering: Rack-and-pinion, electro-mechanical power steering
Turns lock-to-lock: 3.0
Turning Circle: 35.8 ft
Suspension, Front: MacPherson strut with lower wishbones
Suspension, Rear: Four-link with separate spring/shock absorber arrangement
Brakes F/R: Power-assisted ventilated disc; ABS
Wheels: 18 x 7.5-inch alloy
Tires: Continental ContactSport 2
Tire Size: 225/40R18
Winter Tires: Bridgestone Blizzak LM-22
Tire Size: 215/45R18

Headroom F/R: 39.3/38.5 in
Legroom F/R: 41.2/35.5 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 54.7/54.6 in
Wheelbase: 101.5 in
Track F/R: 60.4/59.7 in
L x W x H: 165.8 x 70.0 x 57.8 in
Cargo Capacity: 42.4/54.8 cu ft (rear/with seats folded)
Weight: 3034 lb
Fuel Capacity: 14.5 gal
Est. Range: 363 miles
Fuel Grade: 93 octane

Standard Equipment
2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
6-speed manual transmission
Electronic stabilizer program (ESP)
Anti-slip regulation (ASR)
Cross differential system (XDS)
Electronic differential lock (EDL)
Electronic brake force distribution (EBD)
Anti-lock brake system (ABS)
Cruise control
Leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel
Touchscreen AM/FM radio with in-dash 6 CD changer
iPod adapter
Sirius satellite radio

Power Sunroof — $1000
18-inch wheels — $890
Bi-Xenon headlamps — $700
Dynaudio advanced sound — $476
Bluetooth connectivity — $199