2008 Paris Auto Show: 2010 Volkswagen GTI
Though it still is called a concept, it's more than likely the next GTI, due in showrooms worldwide in the fall of 2009, will look virtually identical to the show cars on hand. The GTI will be available in both three- and five-door configurations, and each will get a new four-cylinder 2.0-liter turbo with 210 horsepower, which represents a slight bump over the current GTI's output. Both are also front-drivers which can reach 60 mph in about 7.2 seconds but still average around 30 mpg. Though the suspension remains similar to its predecessor, the new GTI will get the adaptive damping system being offered in VW's new Scirocco. Distinguishing it visually from the standard Golf are a new front nose, more aggressive door sill extensions, a new rear bumper and roof-top spoiler. The interior receives a similar re-do, including the trick flat-bottomed three-spoke steering wheel. The car that started the hot hatch segment is still among the best.
2010 Volkswagen GTI front" src="http://img.autobytel.com/car-reviews/autobytel/digital-assets/AutoShows/2008ParisAutoShow/2010_VW_Golf_GTI_GB_02.jpg" alt="2010 Volkswagen GTI front" />
Why it Matters
The Volkswagen GTI is an icon, one that has lasted since the 1970s. It still represents fun driving on a budget, and although there is plenty of competition these days, the GTI's reputation, performance and German good looks make it a first choice for many. The sixth-generation VW GTI promises even more, with more power, evolutionary looks, and some pretty darn impressive fuel economy numbers to boot.
What it Looks Like
The VW GTI has styling that is evolutionary, continuing the themes started with the current fifth-generation car. The headlights are a little squintier, the whole car is a bit wider – emphasized by the widely spaced foglights – and overall the GTI looks just a bit hunkier. The huge grille is gone, replaced by a more traditional style with a wide opening below the bumper that looks like it came off the VW Scirocco concept car from a couple years ago.
The interior of the VW GTI looks a lot like the new VW Golf – of course – with a few tweaks. The seats are covered in the traditional plaid, there are GTI badges here and there, and the overall style, though familiar, is updated to correlate more closely with the new Volkswagen CC sedan.
What's Under the Skin
The VW GTI will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 210 horsepower, 10 more than the current GTI. It will be mated to either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual clutch automatic with paddle shifters. It's not a huge jump in output, but it should be enough to keep the GTI competitive. The engine is also thrifty, getting 31.4 mpg on the European cycle.
What We Think
We like the VW GTI, and are eagerly awaiting our chance to drive the new one. However, in the face of ever-stiffer competition, we wonder if the incremental changes made to the sixth-generation car are going to be enough. Time will tell, but for now, our breath is baited as we wait.
By Keith Buglewicz and Greg Brown
Photo credit: Greg Brown