- Interior space
- Excellent handling
- The settled ride of a larger car
- Conservative styling
- Backseat access difficult in two-doors
- Pricey for a tarted-up Rabbit
The 2009 Volkswagen GTI is the most conservative-looking of sporty hatches—and a bit pricey for a dressed-up Rabbit—but it redeems itself with the driving experience.
The 2009 Volkswagen GTI hatch has the same basic appearance as the Rabbit, though its appearance details—including a racier front end and larger, showier wheels—indicate that it’s considerably more performance-focused. Overall, however, the model is a clear styling evolution of the previous Golf and Golf GTI models. Last year, the tuner influence deepened as VW reduced the ride height about two-thirds of an inch on the two-door and four-door models. For 2009, however, the high-performance R32 model has been dropped.
The GTI’s 2.0 liter, 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine works through either a standard six-speed manual transmission or a Direct Shift (DSG) six-speed gearbox, a type of manual where the driver controls gear changes but the clutchwork is handled automatically. Though either transmission delivers spirited performance, TheCarConnection.com recommends the DSG transmission, as it works fluidly with the turbo’s boost, delivering snappy, smooth upshifts and timely downshifts whenever necessary. There’s a manual gate to call the shifts, but you probably won’t need it. Fuel economy is also surprisingly good in the 2009 Volkswagen GTI.
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 a rear defroster.
The standard safety equipment package in the 2009 Volkswagen GTI includes anti-whiplash head restraints, a tire pressure monitoring system, and front-side and curtain airbags, as well as electronic stability control. The GTI receives good, but not excellent, safety ratings, including four-star results from the federal government in frontal impact and five-star ratings in side impact.
For 2009, the GTI gains a new 18-inch alloy wheel package, available with summer performance tires, and the optional sound system and navigation system receive an upgrade. The optional audio system in the 2009 Volkswagen GTI has USB and aux inputs, plus an SD memory card slot, Audi CD and DVD playback, and 20 gigabytes reserved for audio storage.