2009 Volkswagen GLI

A few thousand dollars can make all the difference in the sport-compact segment. Whereas the GTI hits the sweet spot for about $24,000, this GLI and its less impressive suspension doesn't make that strong case for itself at $25,470. Not when you can get a more frenetic Honda Civic Si sedan for less money.

OK, so not everyone is looking to squeeze every last drop of performance out of their dollar, and the GLI does excel in other areas, such as refinement, comfort, and practicality (check out its huge trunk). But if that's what you're after, why not opt for a Jetta TDI? The oil-burning Jetta offers just as many grins behind the wheel as this GLI -- don't let those acceleration figures fool you -- and has the added benefit of stellar fuel economy. I'd also add that it's available for 2010 with all the GLI's suspension and brake upgrades.

David Zenlea, Assistant Editor

New Car Research

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