The 2010 Volkswagen GTI, previewed at last year's Paris Motor Show, is coming to the U.S. as part of the Mark VI Golf update, and with a new exterior, interior upgrades and a price right on top of the old GTI, the 2010 model stands to win even more fans than the 1.7 million worldwide that purchased the last-generation GTI.
For the Mark VI Golf VW went conservative, updating the existing body shape to keep up with the times. In typical GTI style, there's a honeycomb grille, a GTI badge on the passenger side and blacked-out lower front fascia ducting. Two halogen fog lamps and new teardrop headlights give the GTI an aggressive yet friendly face.
New black side skirts tie together the front and rear fenders, while a complete absence of side moldings makes for a smoother, more streamlined profile. At the rear, the new tail lights feature smoked lenses and clear reverse and turn signals, a factory inclusion of a common "Euro" upgrade. The rear bumper also gets a new shape for 2010, and a blacked-out diffuser integrated below.
Heavily bolstered front seats wrapped in patterned "sport fabric" with red-and-white double stitching are standard, as is the eight-way manual adjustability including lumbar support. A three-spoke flat-bottom steering wheel gets a new embossed center, aluminum-trim spokes and perforated leather sections to enhance grip.
The 2010 GTI also gets a new instrument panel, re-arranging the gauges and adding chrome trim. A multi-function display in the middle shows key information. Metallic accents throughout the cabin lend a premium feel.
The standard audio system is anything but standard, featuring an eight-speaker satellite-capable six-disc CD changer unit with build-in iPod, auxiliary and Bluetooth support. A 300-watt Dynaudio Lite system is available as an upgrade. Touch-screen navigation featuring a 6.5-inch screen and 30-gigabyte hard drive is available.
The corporate powerplant inside the GTI uses a turbocharger to get its 2.0-liter four-cylinder direct-injection output to 200 horsepower from 5,100 rpm to 6,000 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque from 1,800 rpm to 5,000 rpm. The little four-banger lets the GTI make the run from 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds when equipped with the six-speed manual, or 6.7 seconds with the optional six-speed dual-clutch DSG gearbox. Top speed is limited to 130 mph in U.S. models.
The 2010 GTI is also rather efficient, especially when fitted with the DSG gearbox, at 24/32 city/highway mpg. The six-speed manual drinks a bit more dino juice around town, though it closes the gap on the highway, according to the 21/31 mpg EPA estimate.
With a choice of either "Denver" or "Detroit" style alloy wheels, the GTI's look can be subtly changed. Whichever look is chosen, 17x7-inch alloy wheels and all-season performance tires are standard, but can be upgraded to 18x7.5-inch alloys with a choice of performance summer or all-season tires. An advanced suspension and four-wheel disc brakes make for sure-footed handing and stopping.
The GTI also gets the full array of tongue-twisting electronic safety aids: ABS, ESP and TPMS are standard, while Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) and Engine Braking Assist (EBA) control wheel-spin and help in hill descents, respectively. An all-new feature for the Mark VI GTI is the Electronic Limited Slip system VW calls XDS. This system electronically monitors individual wheel sensors and sends more torque to the wheels with the most grip for extra traction, enhancing both safety and performance.
Other safety features include the VW Prevent and Preserve system of 40 different elements, including six airbags, head restraints, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, and in the five-door model, optional rear side airbags and rear outboard seatbelt pre-tensioners.