Months in Fleet: Nine
Miles to date: 20,724
Another month, another competitor soundly defeated by the Volkswagen GTI. This time, it was a 2010 Honda Civic Si coupe that came humming through our office to challenge our defending Automobile of the Year. And although we had plenty of love for the venerable Japanese pocket rocket, it served mostly as a reminder of just how refined our German hot hatch is.
"After four nights of jumping between the Volkswagen GTI and the Civic Si -- cars that, arguably, cater to the same demographic and cost about the same -- I think I'd take my $22,000 to the VW dealer," opines associate web editor Evan McCausland. "The GTI is just as involving as the Honda when racing over back roads, but it feels much more mature and refined." Digital managing editor Jennifer Misaros came to a similar conclusion, but for a completely different reason: "The GTI's hatch greatly expands its appeal because of the added versatility that it provides."
Others noted how much richer the GTI's cabin felt and how much more balanced it felt under hard cornering. There was, however, one voice of dissent in technical editor Don Sherman.
"Do I really want to drive around a box capable of toting my bicycle, or will I be better served by the sleeker, lower, high-revving Civic Si?" Sherman asks rhetorically. "The Honda is sexier to look at, a much better value than the illustrious GTI and -- for my money -- more entertaining to drive."
Our estimable technical editor aside, just about everyone in the office seemed to agree the GTI is at least as entertaining a performer as the Civic and a better car to boot. That doesn't mean we're done finding things to complain about, though. To wit, even our most technologically astute staffers have found it particularly vexing to pair external devices with the GTI's stereo.
"No dice plugging in my second-gen iPod, or my brother's newer one, or my friend's fancy iPod Touch, or our BlackBerries," grouses associate web editor Jeffrey Jablansky. "We tried everything, but the system kept reading 'device not supported.' I even pulled out the instruction manual; I won't even do that for an Ikea 'you-can't-build-this-to-save-your-life' bookshelf."
A simple software update should resolve this issue, which doesn't affect pairing with Bluetooth devices or SD cards. We'll be sure to address the issue during our next visit to the dealer, but given the GTI's stellar reliability record so far, that trip may be a long time coming.
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