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The first GTI — a hot rodded version of the Rabbit econobox — appeared back in 1983, at a time when economy cars that were also fun to drive cars were virtually nonexistent. The GTI is a new model for ’07 and many generations removed from its ancestor, but the animating spirit is the same. Like the ’07 Rabbit it is based upon, the new GTI can be ordered in both two and four-door hatchback body styles but comes standard with a 2.0 liter, 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine working through either a standard six-speed manual transmission or Direct Shift six-speed gearbox, a type of manual where the driver controls gear changes but the clutchwork is handled automatically. Curiously, at 23/32 mpg with the manual transmission, the high-performance GTI gets better fuel economy than the price-minded Rabbit. All GTIs come equipped with 17-inch wheels and performance tires, high-capacity brakes, sport suspension, metal-trimmed pedals, and monochromatic exterior paint schemes — in addition to air conditioning, cruise control and electric rear defroster. The standard safety equipment package includes anti-whiplash head restraints, a tire pressure monitoring system, front-side and curtain airbags, as well as electronic stability control.
2007 Volkswagen GTIEnlarge Photo