Weekend Road Test – A FUN GTI

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Volks Golf GTI

Is All That Stuff True?

By Ron Amadon

(Freezing cold) DAMASCUS, MD. – From the pages of the buff magazines in this country to Top Gear, Car, and EVO in Great Britain, often warring auto writers have been united on one thing.

The GTI is simply great fun to drive – built like a tank, with incredible road holding, good power, an upscale interior, first rate ergonomics, and yet at home when dispatched on more mundane tasks to grocery stores, hardware outlets,  yet classy enough for a night out on the town.

Writers can get carried away with the first test of a car and say it’s the greatest thing on wheels until the inevitable comparison article when some flaws emerge that were not obvious months earlier. Such is NOT the case with the GTI.

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Car and Driver has had it on its “10 Best List” for nine years. Automobile has named it an “All Star” for the seventh time, and Motor Trend named the entire Golf family “Car of the Year.” Even Yahoo said “Yahoo” when it tested one.

And for 2015 the Golf GTI got even better. Kind of like Tiger Woods with a better back.

VW gave it an additional 10 horsepower and 51 lb-ft of torque to 210 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Check the box for the $1,495 Performance Package and you get another ten ponies, an electronically controlled limited slip differential and larger brakes. After all, the fun must stop sometime!!

That extra oomph made the test GTI very responsive even with the six speed DSG dual clutch automatic with a set of the best paddle shifts I have ever engaged. Look for a 0-60 run just a hair over six seconds – about the most enjoyable six seconds you will have this year. In urban traffic the automatic would seek out the lowest gear resulting in a feeling that the engine was bogging down a bit yet a quick paddle downshift fixed that.

It should be noted that a six speed manual transmission is also offered. It would go nicely with the “Tornado Red” exterior paint scheme.

Here is what sets the GTI apart from some very worthy competitors such as the Mini Cooper and the Subaru WRX. You get not only excellent road handling and power in a refined hatch but an interior featuring lots of soft touches, key controls that are a finger-tip away, seats that are all day comfortable but still cradle you like your Mom did, nearly 53 cubic feet of storage out back, and the ability to scare the hell out of two rear seat passengers.

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Some might find the ride a bit on the stiff side, but that is the trade-off for the excellent handling you can enjoy on great roads, like those in eastern West Virginia. You will want to engage the “Sport” mode in such situations.

The test car was a top of the line Autobahn model that only comes as a four door with the navi system, a 12-way power driver’s seat and a so-so Fender audio system among other items.

Fuel economy is 25-33 mpg with the automatic and the GTI likes premium unleaded gas.

Best of all you can get into a base GTI S model with the stick shift for an MSRP of $24,395. The test car with a $995 Lighting Package and a $695 Driver Assist Package bottom lined at $33,205.

The Driver Assist Package adds front and rear Park Distance Control and Forward Collision Warning system. With that package, the GTI got a Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, its highest rating.

The Lighting Group brings BI-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and Adaptive Front-Lighting system.

The bottom, bottom line comes from Top Gear. It said “the best done better than ever.” I fully agree.

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