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2006 Volkswagen GTI Photo
Quick Take
If you know the difference between a GTI and a regular Golf and care enough to read this review... Read more »
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If you know the difference between a GTI and a regular Golf and care enough to read this review, then you probably don’t need me to regurgitate the history of the GTI one more time for you. Everyone has their favorite GTI and mine is the Mk II — I liked it so much I actually owned two of them. The Mk III GTI, by comparison, was so lame I’m surprised VW doesn’t disown it like a bad-egg offspring. The faster but comfier Mk IV was so far from the original hot-hatch concept they really should have called it something else.

Unfortunately, the all-new Mk V is off a bad start because as I sift through the specifications, I find that the suspension has been changed for the American market, partially to raise the ride height by 0.6 of an inch to comply with some pointless regulation or other, but also to accommodate the younger and (often) less experienced American buyer, I suspect. GTIs are expensive cars inEurope and exorbitantly costly to insurance too, so they tend to be bought be older enthusiasts than their American counterparts. In addition, the GTI has taken well over a year to get here and, well, frankly I’m tired of waiting. My colleagues in Europe have been raving about it and I haven’t enjoyed a good GTI since I sold mine over six years ago. So please, just give me the keys and step back.

I can’t stay mad at the new GTI, though. Just look at it! The blobby dimensions of the old car give way to tight proportions, crisp detailing and understated purposefulness. VW signals the GTI’s return to form with its traditional red grille insert and the resurrection of the same GTI lettering that adorned the backside of my favorite model. At the same time, it’s not at all retro — there’s a definite family resemblance but there’s nothing old fashioned about its new suit of clothes.

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