Close readers of our magazine will be forgiven for experiencing a bit of déjà vu. For the second time in three years, the Volkswagen GTI is our Automobile of the Year, and for the second time in three years, one is joining our Four Seasons fleet.
For this go around, we've selected a rather basic, two-door model, which starts at a very reasonable $23,995. We couldn't help but add Bluetooth, a premium audio system, a sunroof, xenon headlights, and a set of gorgeous 18-inch wheels (VW calls them "Detroit" wheels).
We did not opt for Volkswagen's excellent dual-clutch gearbox, much as we love its quickness on the track. We'll see if the old-fashioned six-speed manual can extract as much performance and fun on a day-to-day basis.
All our goodies bumped the price up to $27,255, about $500 more than our four-door, DSG-equipped 2007 model (so much for no inflation).
The interior, a strong point in the last-generation car, is even more of a standout here, with a standard touch-screen radio interface, heated seats in an eye-catching plaid cloth, and an in-dash six-CD changer.
So far, no one's complaining about GTI overexposure. The fact is, everything we loved about the last-generation car, from its overall value to its usable performance is even more readily apparent than before. We'll see if enough is new and different about the GTI to keep us infatuated for another four seasons.
2010 Volkswagen GTI
Base price (with dest.): $23,990
Price as tested: $27,255
Body Style: 3-door hatchback
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
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
Weight Dist. F/R: xx / xx%
Fuel Capacity: 14.5 gal
Est. Range: 363 miles
Fuel Grade: 93 octane
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)
Leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel
Touchscreen AM/FM radio with in-dash 6 CD changer
Sirius satellite radio
Power Sunroof -- $1000
18-inch wheels -- $890
Bi-Xenon headlamps -- $700
Dynaudio advanced sound -- $476
Bluetooth connectivity -- $199