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Shut Up and Listen

2015 VW GTI

This is one of those reviews which I wish, for your sakes, came with sound.

Thank the car review gods that I was alone last Saturday afternoon for my test drive of the 2015 Volkswagen GTI—a.k.a. the original Hot Hatch. It was a conversation-free zone. For not only is the GTI one of the best looking cars you can buy, and not only is the new GTI one of the most comfortable cars you can drive, but the new GTI has one of the sweetest sounds of any (affordable) car on the road today. And I say that with no scientific research, no marketing surveys (“Choose “Five” for “Completely Satisfied!” Feh!)…in other words, no real numbers to back me up, just over 44 years of enthusiastic driving experience under my belt.

The difficult part of this week’s drive was trying to latch on to a car which wasn’t already sold. People are scooping ‘em up pretty quick, and somehow the bonus of knowing their car was the official You Auto Know test vehicle isn’t high on a lot of folk’s bucket lists. But find one I did at Northtown VW, where Scott Jurewicz had a silver SE squirreled away in the back row. After a quick primer from sales guy and GTI enthusiast Greg Achramovitch I was on my way.

Oh sure, I gave the incredible Fender Premium Audio System a shot, and with nine speakers (including a subwoofer) it sounded great. But I eventually shut it down to listen to the powertrain: a 2.0L 16-valve DOHC in-line turbocharged four with intercooler and direct injection. The test car was equipped with the six-speed DSG automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is also available). A button on the console controls the three different driving modes: normal (really?!), sport (yes!), and individual—a setting which allows you to choose some from column A and some from column B. Personally? The Sport mode is all I needed—and thank heavens VW decided to forego an eco mode. Not that I’m against saving a little gas here and there, but driving most cars in the eco mode is a drag.

The response when you press the gas pedal is…a gas! In the sport mode the shift points are, well, sportier, as is the steering. Take the GTI down your favorite curvy back road, yes, even with the automatic (there are paddle shifters and a manual mode, but why bother?), and those legendary GTI seats will keep you firmly planted, while the suspension will keep the car nearly flat as a pancake. I missed seeing the Clark Plaid cloth seating in the test car which, being an SE model was equipped with black leather. On the other hand, being an SE model also meant I was able to enjoy a pushbutton start system and a rear camera.

The room inside the new GTI should be more than enough for a family of four. Easy to get in and out of both the front and the back, plenty of legroom all around, and even the headroom is more than adequate—sunroof and all. The controls couldn’t be simpler, the driving position is close to perfect…and on and on and on, he said. Funny, the guys writing the Highs and Lows list for the GTI review in Car and Driver magazine listed this as one of two lows: (the GTI) isn’t issued at birth. Hah! Their only other complaint was that the pedals were too close together. Maybe they have bigger feet than I do.

Pricing? It starts at $24,995 for the GTI S, while the GTI SE has a starting price of $29,095. The one option on the SE test car was the $995 lighting package, which includes adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights that steer with the car, and LED daytime running lights. The 2015 GTI is available in the U.S. only as a five-door for now, but a three-door is coming.

Find a GTI today. And buy it.

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Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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