A month ago, we took a look at a new Ford Focus RS that was meant to be a serious contender to the hot hatchback crown. Well, the Volkswagen GTI has long been the king of this segment, and a new generation for the 2010 model further cements that reputation. Lesser hatchbacks tremble, the GTI is coming.
The VW GTI had humble beginnings. It was first created in 1976 as an engineering project, but once it hit the streets, it took on a life of its own. The GTI found an unlikely niche in the auto market: a car that looks like an uninspired hatchback, but drives like a demon. The 2010 model marks the sixth generation in the GTI’s 33-year history, and it doesn’t mess with the formula, just refines it.
A GTI wouldn’t be a GTI without a turbocharged engine, and the 2010 model has a tubro four cylinder that has the same 2.0-liter displacement as the previous generation, but pumps out an extra 10 horsepower, bringing the total to 210. Torque is 207 lb-ft, the same as the previous model. 0-to-60 mph takes a little under 7 seconds, and top speed is 149 mph. This may not seem impressive compared to some sports and luxury cars, but considering that the GTI has the aerodynamics of a bread box, it’s pretty good. Despite all this speed and power, the GTI still gets 32 mpg, and even under strenuous driving, that rating only drops a little bit to 30 mpg. Efficiency and power? Yes, please.
Suspension and handling are tuned to give you a responsive ride, but are not so hard as to make that ride uncomfortable. Car engineers have a tough balancing act with sporty vehicles: should it handle well, but be stiff, or should it be soft and comfortable, but lack cornering prowess? The GTI is a happy medium that leans towards the hard side, but not so far as to get in the way of a pleasant ride.
If you’ve had the opportunity to ride in the previous generation GTI, produced from the 2003-2009 model years, and enjoyed it, then you’ll like the new 2010 model. VW doesn’t mess with the success of the previous model, jsut refines it and adds a few nice touches. Is the 2010 GTI a giant jump forward for the hot hatchback segment? No, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot of fun to drive.