Months in Fleet: Eight
It's not unusual for a Four Seasons vehicle to fall from the top of the car sign-out list as it passes the six-month mark in its test. What is unusual is for people to get so upset about it.
The kerfuffle started when senior web editor Phil Floraday innocently pointed out that the GTI -- our reigning Automobile of the Year, it must be noted -- had failed to find a home one warm summer weekend.
"This great car was relegated to two days of waiting at the airport for me instead of exploring fun new roads," he lamented.
That evidence of neglect did not sit well with associate web editor Evan McCausland.
"Wait, this car sat around on a weekend? I gladly would have jumped behind the wheel. I think it's driven more than some here suggest -- I rarely see it left on the nightly sign-out list, and I assure you I would permanently adopt it if I could."
Within days, several more indignant editors weighed in, the hand-wringing persisting even after copy editor Rusty Blackwell had gently pointed out that with nearly 20,000 miles on the odometer and five months left in the fleet, everyone's favorite Vee-Dub is hardly gathering cobwebs.
In any event, all the time spent cycling through fresh metal has only confirmed in the minds of most that the GTI remains a connoisseur's choice in its price range -- or in any price range. For instance, one editor climbed into the GTI after a long day conducting a comparison test of the Ford Mustang V-6 and the Honda Accord Coupe V-6. His findings? "The little hatchback has superior steering, a more refined powertrain, and a ritzier interior than either $30,000 two-door."
In similar fashion, McCausland declared the GTI one of his favorite rides after taking turns in it and several other cars on a recent staff trip through Michigan's back roads. "That's high praise, as the convoy also consisted of a Porsche Boxster Spyder and a BMW 135i," he added.
It is thus safe to say that the GTI still ranks at the top of our list of favorite rides -- even when it doesn't get signed out for one summer weekend.
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
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