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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
“VW’s robust 2.0-liter turbo four provides ample thrust”
Car and Driver
“Despite some low-speed turbo lag, GTIs have quick acceleration and impressive highway passing punch.”
“shortage of all-out cornering ability”
“The brakes deliver worry-free stops.”
The 2009 Volkswagen GTI features quick acceleration, sharp handling, and all-around strong performance—the qualities reviewers are looking for in true sports car.
Kelley Blue Book says its favorite feature of the 2009 GTI is the six-speed Direct Shift gearbox: “In stop-and-go traffic it's a smooth-shifting automatic transmission. On your favorite road or track it's a quick-shifting, no-pedal manual. You won't miss the clutch pedal as much as you may think.” Pushing the GTI is Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, inline four-cylinder turbo engine producing 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Car and Driver reports “VW’s robust 2.0-liter turbo four provides ample thrust, driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission (standard) or, our choice, the slick paddle-shifted dual-clutch DSG automated manual.
ConsumerGuide notes, “Despite some low-speed turbo lag, GTIs have quick acceleration and impressive highway passing punch. The manual transmission shifts with exemplary precision, but some testers would like shorter throws.” Automotive.com declares, “The Volkswagen GTI is fun to drive and that's where it shines. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is responsive and offers a broad plateau of torque. Maximum torque is available from a mere 1800 rpm up to 5000 rpm, so you can putter comfortably around town in fourth gear without having to overwork your right arm searching for the engine's sweet spot as you maneuver in city traffic.”
When it comes to handling, ConsumerGuide praises the GTI’s talents: “Among the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars. All have outstanding grip in fast turns with quick, precise steering.” Car and Driver explains “it’s the GTI’s rigid unibody that makes it such an agreeable partner, whether it’s the daily commute or a weekend back-road blast. Exemplary chassis rigidity allowed the development team to tune the suspension for a blend of precise response and smooth ride quality reminiscent of a car wearing BMW badges.” Edmunds, however, isn’t as impressed with the GTI’s cornering prowess: “If there's a knock against the GTI other than its comparatively modest collection of horses, it's the car's shortage of all-out cornering ability. Don't get us wrong; the GTI handles well, but competing sport compacts generally offer sharper handling and less body roll.” ConsumerGuide also lauds the GTI’s anchors, saying, “The brakes deliver worry-free stops.”
The 2009 GTI gets respectable fuel economy, but at the cost of filling the tank with premium-grade gasoline. “In Consumer Guide testing, GTIs averaged 16.8-19.1 mpg with manual transmission, 23.6 with the automatic, both in slightly more highway travel vs. city driving,” the source reports. Automotive.com warns, “While the car operates on regular unleaded, premium fuel is recommended to achieve maximum performance.” Motor Trend sums up the GTI’s performance, saying, “If you're looking for good fuel economy and plenty of space, but don't want to give up sports-car speed and handling, the GTI is a good place to look.”
The 2009 Volkswagen GTI is mostly a stellar mover, even if it's not an all-out performance car.