So you may have heard me harping on in past posts about VWs MKVI version of their hot-hatch GTI. Well, I finally got to test drive one today. And I can safely report: I want one.
First of all, look at it! Okay, maybe I take that back a little. I can see how the styling may not appeal to all. But it does to me. I love that thin front-grille with the red stripe around it, I love the black out headlights, I love the dual-tailpipes, and I love the rectangular tail lights. You have to see it in person before you judge it IMO, it does look better in the metal. And I had the good fortune to be able to look at it next to a MKV GTI, and I have to say it looks so much better. I know they’re built on exactly the same platform, but the styling differences of the MKVi give it a much lower, wider appearance. The MKV looks taller when parked next to the MKVI.
And then you drive it. It feels good, I guess the best way I can describe the way it drives is smooth. Everything feels slick and smooth, the power delivery, the steering, and especially the transmission. The transmission feels almost like a BMW unit to me, it has that kind of smooth feeling, not notchy (unlike a lot of Japanese transmissions). As far as the engine, it feels good. I’m not gonna say its the most powerful thing out there, it only makes 210BHP and 207lb-ft of torque. But it revs so silky smooth, it “feels” like it has more power then it actually has. I would go so far as to say that power-delivery is on par with my Legacy (that’s probably because of the transmission though). Again, the way the engine feels reminds me of a BMW straight-six. I have no idea why I draw so much similarities to BMW when driving the GTI, but I do. Probably because I have limited to no experience driving anything else German. As far as handling, I can’t comment on that too much. Just driving around town, it’s what you’d expect. The suspension is firm, but not intolerable. I didn’t have a chance to plow it through turns, but I assume it can’t be that bad. Although that said, the one gripe I have about it is that you can sometimes feel it’s weight and height. It drove a little bit taller than I’d like. But that’s just a small niggle to me.
Also I should note, I got to test drive a MKV with DSG. And I have to say, DSG is loads better than a traditional automatic. I seriously think DSG should, and will take over traditional automatics (I hope anyway). All that being said though, the manual six-speed is the one I’d have, hands down.
And now we get to the number one reason I want this car: the interior. I mean, just look at it. I’ve always felt that VW (well Audi more-so, but same smell) builds the best interiors in the business, and the GTIs is no exception. I really liked the MKVs interior, thought it was best in class, but this one makes the MKVs interior look old and dated (like I said, I drove the MKV and MKVI back to back). First, the steering wheel, I love the look of flat-bottomed steering wheels. And the feel of the thing is just fantastic. Also, I love how they used red-stitching everywhere, it’s in the shift boot, steering wheel, and the seats. The red-stitching is probably the major reason why this interior looks so much better than the MKV. Speaking of the seats, I love that retro plaid look. I know it’s a gimmick, but I’m a sucker for gimmicks, and I think that’s just awesome. Also cool is the fact that the standard radio is a touchscreen unit. I got a chance to play around with it, and I love it. It’s just so much nicer to use and look at. I wish everything came standard touchscreen. I could go on and on and on about what I like about the interior (I mean I didnt even mention the awesome info-meter in the middle of the gauge cluster!), but that’d take a really long time, so I’ll just end it with: I really really like this interior. Interior is a huge factor in what I look for in a car, after all it’s where you spend the most time enjoying your car. The MKVIs interior is just a nice place to be, and jumping back into my Legacy was just depressing.
So we come to the question: would I buy one? Yes, if you haven’t already figured out by the tone of this post. Honestly, the GTI left a damn good impression on me. I liked the MKV, but something was missing for me. And from the looks of it, the MKVI fills in that “void”. The MKVI turned the GTI from something I liked, into something I could see myself owning.
Would I recommend it to others? Well, that really depends on what you want out of your car. If you want something fast, look elsewhere. If you want something that handles like a glove, look elsewhere. I can sum up the GTI like this: The GTI doesn’t do any one thing outstanding, but it does everything well. It’s all the car most people will need. It’s enough. And if you can’t live with that, then it’s probably not the car for you. But I can, so I want it. Now, to see if I can sell the Legacy…