Exterior Design: **
When BMW Bangled their boxes, breasts were beaten. Now that VW has proven they can't leave well enough alone — applying the rules of Analytic Cubism to an iconic masterpiece — how long before drivers seeking understated luxury head-off to their Hyundai dealer? Oh wait...
Two-liter, shmoo-liter. This high-tech handbag — complete with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, intercooled turbo, drive-by-wire-throttle and direct fuel injection — has all the zest for life and aural excitement of a well-sorted six. There's a tiny bit of lag lingering at the bottom of the rev range (especially in first gear), but there's masses of seamless shove from there on out. With 200 horses in the stable yard, and the DSG paddle shifter looking naughty in those skin-tight jodhpurs, there's plenty of scope for hoonery. You see that picture with the GTI and the pinball plunger? No shit.
Stop! In the name of love. Before you break my car. Think it oh-oh-ver. 'Cause if your shove seductive hot hatch can't shed its speed, you're gonna die. This one can. Viva you! Viva VW!
The GTI's ride quality is a curious thing: a bit bump-i-dee-bump over the lumps, but not a single crash, bang or wallop. I guess you could call it rubbery sport luxury.
Vee Dub knew they had to get this right and, mein Gott, did they ever. Thanks to computer-controlled laser welding (Bye Bye Brazil) and a new fully independent multi-link rear suspension with coil springs, telescopic shocks and stabilizer bar; the GTI hangs on, and hangs on, and hangs on, until you start to wonder what you've got to do to induce an understeer slide (hint: something really stupid). It's a hoot-and-a-half, with a side of hoot fries and a large hoot cola, to go.
If VW attached their DSG, the world's best paddle shift gearbox, to a slightly anemic engine, it'd still warm the cockles of your heart (not to mention your radar detector). Hooked-up to this 2.0-liter firecracker, the six-speed DSG alone is worth the price of admission. Paddle-up, paddle down, let slip the dogs of war! Amazing. Simply amazing.
Ten speakers? How about a couple of good ones and a head unit with some genuine dynamic quality? VW really missed a trick here: a kickin' stereo with some of their blue light spizzarkle would have made the GTI completely irresistible to an entire demographic of wannabe tuner types.
A Golf GTI doesn't need toys, so, by not having them, the GTI gets five stars. Take THAT you mouse-driven madmen.
Hot hatch indeed. The new independent rear suspension frees-up room for an even bigger, more practical luggage bay. You open the trunk by tilting the big VW badge. Wikkid!
[by Robert Farago]