2006 Volkswagen GTI First Drive
VW thumbs its nose at the aftermarket
Advertising taglines crafted to increase awareness of, and ultimately sell, the redesigned 2006 Volkswagen GTI revolve around the concept of a devilish little monster, the fast. Consider him (or her, but the voice in the television commercials is either a dude or a woman who smokes a carton of Marlboro Reds every day) the progeny of a steamy nighttime encounter between Darth Vader and a gremlin. Spurred on by the fast, there’s only enough time in your life to drive and thoroughly enjoy your new GTI, leaving no excuse for sitting at home, and nary a spare moment for a nagging partner. To drive home the emphasis on the GTI’s capacity for speed and the urgency with which owners must get their next driving fix, VW leaves out the spaces between the words. Clever, eh?
Designed to slightly resemble the shape of a rabbit (the VW model on which the first 1983 GTI was based), every buyer of a 2006 GTI will receive their own configurable fast, which even features a red lip meant to mirror the car’s grille. Gimmicks are great, especially when they’re memorable and impressionable, such as the fast commercials that had more than a few journalists laughing during the GTI’s press launch in San Diego. But then a few more folks at the office got a look at the footage, and felt it was a few chuckles shy of funny.
That’s the funny thing about marketing – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And in the car business, that’s a big deal, because some mediocre cars sell only because of ingenious advertising, while others don’t move even with thousands of dollars and a scantily clad model on the hood. Thing is, Volkswagen needs neither rebates or enticements to sell the 2006 GTI – the car’s unique styling, top-notch interior, outstanding powertrain, and athletic handling all make this turbocharged sport hatch well worth the $22,620 base price.
If Darth Jr. is appealing, that’s great – he’ll increase awareness of this hot little ride. However, if you’re thinking you’d like to flipoffyourfast, skip over the marketing bull and head directly to your VW dealer for some seat time in the 2006 GTI. Company executives are hoping you will, and they’re confident that you’ll love what you find. Dave Wicks, VW’s director of sales, goes as far as to suggest that “there may not be a better performance value” on the market, while director of brand innovation, Kerry Martin, claims that Volkswagen’s goal “is to make the brand famous and relevant again.” If first impressions count for anything, this reinvented pocket rocket appears ready and willing to do just that.