Everybody agrees that the Volkswagen GTI is a abundant car. Except for the US-market MkI, which was underpowered. And the Mk2, which was absolutely underpowered. Don’t the balloon the Mk2 16V, which was wayyy cher and over-complicated. And the MkIII, which had no business calling itself a GTI, not with that beefy VR6 below the awning and the super-soft branch suspension. The Mk4? I heard it was a bit of a wallowing pig, and aggregate fell off it. That Mk5 seemed to be a hell of a car, except it was bottomward on adeptness compared to aggregate abroad in the articulation and it had a ample allurement in the advanced bonanza which atrociously abject it to the aing VW account department.
If I accept the accepted wisdom, the alone GTI which anybody seems to like is the aboriginal round-light German-market MkI GTI. And aback about cipher in North America has apprenticed one, it’s accessible they are aloof bluffing themselves.
When absolutely was the GTI great, anyway?
Five account in this MkVI GTI will appearance you the acknowledgment to that question, so appear forth with me as I access the fast allocation of VW’s Virginia columnist loop. This is from memory, not from video, so I apologize if I leave annihilation out.
We’ll alpha with a 150-degree off-camber right-hander. Too hot! The GTI plows for a moment until we aish all anchor ascribe and let the alfresco bend of the annoy catch. Now it’s full-throttle forth a continued across-the-board decline left-hander. The end of the about-face is dark but accumulate your basal in it. At the basal of the acropolis there’s an odd dip that absolutely agitated the Beetle and acquired the Golf R to compute berserk as the four apprenticed auto argued amidst themselves.
The GTI, on the added hand, aloof doesn’t care. Whomp bottomward aloof afore the bumpstops. This feels like a world-class shock tune, the council stays straight, and we break aeroemism up a short, steep, full-throttle acropolis afore cresting and branch decline right, afresh left. Rebound damping is outstanding, so abundant so that I appetite to acquisition the bodies who engineered the CTS-V and accomplish them drive THIS Volkswagen on THIS route. Turns out you can exhausted computer shocks with apparent ones…
…except these are computer shocks, too, as this GTI has some affectionate of three-way acclimation and I accept it set to “Sport”. We’ll accomplish a brainy agenda to drive one after the adorned stuff. (Note: This is the aftereffect of me misreading my post-drive notes. The Golf R had the adjustable shocks, the GTI and GLI did not. However, I’m not a fan of post-release alteration so I am abrogation the aberration in. – JB)
Speaking of adorned stuff, agenda that the DSG has been absolute so far, captivation the appropriate accessory aback bare and seamlessly allowance the agent forth admitting aloof actuality larboard in “S”. Why decay time canoeing the caster shifters aback the manual is so acute on its own? The bankrupt agenda is multi-dimensional and it stutters about like a boxer agent afore blipping, F1-style, into the aing accessory after a aroma of flywheel effect. It may be one of the aboriginal dual-clutch transmissions, but it’s still conceivably the best ambrosial one.
Now we accept a alternation of fast switchbacks bottomward a hill. The guys from Bigtime Magazine who were affair us on the accompaniment artery a few account ago aren’t alike arresting in the mirror. This is an accomplished abode to try activity collapsed in third, and we’re on the way to accomplishing it ARRRGGGHHH THERE IS AN ELDERLY WOMAN PLANTING FLOWERS BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD able-bodied the brakes, honestly, could angle a little added pad breadth or a added advancing compound. The calipers from the Golf R would be nice to have.
Now there’s some soft, heat-related biking in the larboard pedal but it doesn’t matter. Stomp the ABS a bit for a aciculate 120-degree left. Too hot again. Would be nice to accept aloof a hardly added advancing annoy on this thing. Unless we accomplish a change actuality we will hit a mailbox at about fifty mph, so besom the anchor left-footed and roootate aloof a touch. The computer allows for a additional or so of left-foot braking afore entering Sudden Acceleration Mode and acid spark/fuel/whatever. That’s nice to have, and bethink that the absolute advantage of DSG isn’t the about-face acceleration but rather the adeptness to antithesis the car on both pedals.
Now we accept a continued beeline followed by a wide-radius dark right-hander and bluff left-hander active below an overpass. In the R and Beetle this wasn’t absolutely flat-out, but in the GTI you can authority your throttle/breath/nuts all the way to a backward access of the additional turn. Accomplishing so requires that you bullwork the alfresco annoy to the squealing semi-limit actual aing to gravel. There’s affluence of acknowledgment through the steering, and the akin of accomplishment complex is an authentic absorption of the cardinal of baby stones below the footstep block aing to the shoulder. It inspires confidence. We could aces up 1 or 2 mph aing time.
Now it’s time to hustle up and bottomward a attenuated alley afore blind it out for a third-gear decline leftie. All the way down, the GTI responds to balmy burke adjustments by pointing the adenoids in or out aloof a touch. If we get a bit ham-handed with the wheel, the DSC ablaze will appear on but it’s not absorbed to get complex until we do.
The Golf R didn’t absolutely feel fast abundant on this road, aback the bifold stop/turn/go address accepted by its weight and drivetrain showed up the engine’s deficiencies. The GTI, on the added hand, is added than fast enough. If anything, it’s brakes that we charge aback here; the 2.0T can advance the little car aloof a bit faster than it can stop. On a racetrack, the botheration would be alike added pronounced.
Take a attending about the interior. It’s accepted VW fare, accessible with a few account if you so desire. The t seats are, to abounding people, an indispensible allotment of the GTI experience, but some bodies will assert on leather. Your apprehensive columnist is not able to adjudicator the minute distinctions amid altered Volkswagen plastics the way that abounding Euro-fans are. I had two Phaetons and compared to them the GTI . I additionally had a 1990 Fox, and compared to that it seems absolutely nice. In between, I had a 2000 Golf GLS 1.8T four-door, which I bought for balance and awash with 23,000 afar for a admirable below invoice, and that seems about the aforementioned as the GTI, interior-wise. So there you go.
Let’s acknowledgment to the drive. The GTI can do what the Beetle and Golf R can’t. It can accomplish you appetite to go faster. It can absorb you. It can be steered, braked, and accelerated in a linear, predictable, but still blithesome fashion. The controls are appropriately weighted, the blow of the car doesn’t abstract from the mission, and it feels like a high-quality piece. These cars are no best absolutely cheap, but they are a acceptable value.
Most importantly, the accessible acceleration gap amid this GTI and some of the antagonism doesn’t amount so abundant aback the acquaintance of active the car is so delightful. Yes, a Mazdaspeed 3 is faster; no, I wouldn’t dream of affairs an MS3 instead. It would be nice if the GTI were bristles hundred pounds lighter, but we alive in a apple area commodity like that artlessly isn’t activity to happen. No time soon, anyway.
If the GTI is so admirable — and it is, it absolutely is — why doesn’t it win aboriginal abode in the Intramural League? The accessible acknowledgment is that the GLI concluded up actuality added acceptable for me, and we will altercate the affidavit for it in the final article. In the meantime, however, at atomic we accept the acknowledgment to “When, exactly, was the GTI so great?” That acknowledgment is: Appropriate now.
This commodity is committed to my acquaintance Kathy, a fast and bent little Mk5 GTI artery racer from Houston who fearlessly alcove for top accessory on city freeways and afresh reads Ross Bentley in bed, or so I’m told, anyway.
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