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2010 Volkswagen GTI: First Drive

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2010 Volkswagen GTI

2010 Volkswagen GTI

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There's a Volkswagen trio headed your way today from TheCarConnection.com--with the latest 2010 VW GTI, 2010 Golf, and a special drive of the subcompact that's coming to America soon, the VW Polo.

First, we're kicking off this mini-suite of all things Volkswagen with the GTI, the car that's sustained the company's image for decades of good times and bad times in America. Known everywhere by the red frame on its grille (and if you can remember, the "kleine GTI" commercial music that aped the Beach Boys), the GTI returns this year in three- and five-door form with the same basic running gear, suited up in a moderately revamped set of body panels.

When all's said and done, the GTI retains its entertaining handling, sweet turbocharged engine and its best-in-world dual-clutch transmission. Styling, though improved, still isn't the dramatic calling card that it is with the competition--the likes of the MINI Cooper, Honda Civic Si and Mazdaspeed3. The three-door's far more adventurous, and both wear a new horizontal grille, headlamps and taillamps that elongate the shape somewhat--the warning shot from VW design director Walter d'Silva that the next generation Golf/GTI due in two years will be more of a tour de force. Of course, the details are pure GTI: black body trim, GTI badges in the cabin (which is one of the nicest, most richly appointed in the class) and traditional red grille frame.

Just as pure: the GTI's responsive turbo four and its more neutral front-drive handling. The 200-hp turbo engine feeds power to the wheels through a six-speed manual or our favorite, the six-speed dual-clutch "DSG" transmission. It hits 60 mph in under 7 seconds, and the brap music the GTI puts out is pure enthusiasts' delight. The DSG also grants it 32/24 mpg fuel economy--and the standard XDS electronic slip limiter up front sends some torque to the outside wheel in corners, making the GTI more of a hustler.

In short--and if you're riding in the three-door GTI's back seat, you should be--TheCarConnection continues to dig the GTI's tossable handling, its adult ride quality, that awesome DSG gearbox and with a note of surprise in the air, the GTI's impressive fuel economy. We're still not hot for the overall form, especially the five-door, and there's the issue of price: the new GTI carries a base price of $23,290, which holds a line that's crept up into some interesting territory including the MINI Cooper and Volvo C30.

Catch our full road test of the 2010 Volkswagen GTI and get other information too, including photos, specifications, pricing and related news. And stay tuned: next up is the improved Golf / TDI, with the Polo swinging in later today.

MORE: 2010 Volkswagen GTI Bottom Line

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