New Volkswagen GTI: Minor Improvements, Major Results

October 20, 2009

Sporting a Scirocco-like fascia and red-trimmed grille (paying homage to the original), the Mark VI Volkswagen GTI is showing up in showrooms and motorways across the country.

This sixth installment of the original hot-hatch is loaded with subtle enhancements, making it the best version weve seen yet.

When you step back and look at the styling of the 2010 GTI, you may not notice the new side mirrors, door handles, revised body lines or the fact that its window have grown in thickness. You can however, appreciate its sinister headlights and wider front air dam.

At the rear, the GTI gets a twin-tipped, true dual exhaust system, similar to last years R32 and next years GTI R. A redesigned spoiler adorns the GTIs hatch, and we still get that fancy VW logo below it, which doubles as a release handle

Powering the MK VI is the Audi-popular 2.0-liter four cylinder, which is turbocharged and direct injected. The familiar engine package produces 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. Its mated to a six-speed manual or optional six-speed DSG automatic gearbox. Either combination will launch the GTI to 60mph in just under seven seconds.

This power plant (code named EA888) was subtly installed in the 2008 GTI models because it could be more efficient and develop a quicker rush of torque. Although, the European MK6 GTI engine gets 10 extra horsepower, the U.S. version is completely unchanged---a good thing considering it can achieve 31 mpg on the highway.

The suspension is fairly similar to the last GTI generation, aside from its larger anti-roll bars. However, what is new is the electronic XDS chassis system, which gives the GTIs open-differential a limited-slip-like feeling. It uses variable braking pressure to stop either of the front wheels from spinning faster than the other. This will come in handy during launches and high lateral cornering situations.

Inside, the new GTI is as classy as one would expect. You get a leather flat-bottomed steering wheel (seen in most Audi models), leather racing seats (with or without the iconic plaid inlays), aluminum sport pedals, an optional navigation system (that actually understands English!), and plenty of room in the rear seats for your friends.

The 2010 GTI is available in a three or five door layout. Pricing starts at $23,489 for the base model with a manual transmission. This is a slight increase from the MK5 and in our opinion, worth every penny.

Although newest GTI will have trouble competing with the 2010 WRX and Mazdaspeed3, its higher-horsepower brother GTI R, will provide a worthy VW option for performance enthusiasts.

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