By James Bergeron

2007 VW GTI 5-Door
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It is not often I get to jump out of one vehicle and into another that is nearly identically-priced and classed. Having just stepped out of the go-kart-like Mini Cooper S, I was not sure what to expect from the GTI. Would it be as fun and sporting? Would it live up to its history as one of the best hot hatches? Let’s find out.

The GTI starts at a reasonable $29,375 for the three-door model and $29,995 for the five-door model. For not much more than $30,000, you can head home in a very well-equipped German hot hatch.

2007 VW GTI 5-Door
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My tester was equipped with the optional power tilt and slide glass sunroof — a $1400 option — and 18-inch alloy wheels for a very reasonable $900. Other available options include rear side airbags for $450 or a luxury leather package for $2,580 which includes the aforementioned sunroof, leather seating and tinted glass.

Painted in a very sharp Candy white exterior with an Interlagos interior (essentially a plaid pattern) my tester was a very sharp looking. To finish off the look, the 18-inch wheels were wrapped in 40 series rubber; this GTI really stood out.

2007 VW GTI 5-Door
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2007 VW GTI 5-Door
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The new GTI comes standard with a clean shifting six-speed manual transmission with the option of six-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) automatic for an additional $1400. Powered by a 200hp 2.0L turbo-charged engine, the GTI has more than enough oomph to get you moving.

Starting on the inside, the GTI is typical Volkswagen. Soft touch materials on the dash and interior panels, bright blue interior lighting at night and generally easy-to-read gauges. The speedometer is slightly harder to read on the GTI; for some reason Volkswagen chose to provide a speedometer that reaches 300km/h: as a result, the needle barely moves from rest at city speeds.

The most notable feature on the interior of the GTI is the squared off steering wheel, which not only looks cool but also provides more leg room for larger drivers. The six-way adjustable driver’s and passenger’s seats, combined with the tilt and telescoping steering, allows for almost anyone to find a comfortable driving position.

The side bolsters on the front seats are extremely aggressive, which means great support for cornering. I do find the front of the driver’s seat to be a little too high for my liking, putting pressure on my thighs and causing strain.

Although the GTI gives you the sense you are in a vehicle built for the long haul, my tester had an unusual amount of rattles, which didn’t give me the best of feelings. Despite this the GTI still felt solid on the inside.

2007 VW GTI 5-Door
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On the road is really where the GTI shines, though, whether it is a twisty back road or out on the open highway. Even though my tester was equipped with 235/40/R18 tires on the optional 18-inch wheels, it soaked up the bumps and pot holes extremely well.

Get the GTI onto some twisty roads and it really begins to shine. The Pirelli P-Zero tires fitted to my tester generated some serious g-forces in the corners with quick turn-in response. On gravel roads the narrow tread pattern and firm sidewalls caused some moments that invoked ESP (Electronic Stability Program) to save the day. I can indeed confirm the ESP really works.

2007 VW GTI 5-Door
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The 2.0-litre turbo engine has very little turbo lag. Power really begins to build at around 2250rpm as you pull away from a light and keeps pulling till red line. Keep your foot in it and shift at or around 4000rpm and you will stay in the power band, making this a very easy car to drive around town.

I was a little underwhelmed with the power, though. I was expecting a little more oomph from the proverbial “hot hatch�? the GTI has been known to be. It’s fast enough to get you into trouble: turn of the ESP and watch out for the torque steer, as it is strong enough to rip the wheel from your hands. But it is not scary-fast by any means.

The six-speed manual transmission is slick as well, although first gear always seemed to be a mystery to me. Getting to reverse gear means pushing the shifter straight down, and then all the way to the left and forward, and first gear is – well, where first gear always is. It seemed to me every time I would shift out of reverse I would hit third gear unless I was extremely careful and double checked. First and third are very close together, which is great for quick shifting but not so great when backing out of the driveway.

2007 VW GTI 5-Door
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The huge bonus out of all of this though is the fuel consumption. I averaged 9.9L/100km in a mix of 50/50 city/highway driving over the week. Combined with a heavy foot and some aggressive driving that the GTI encouraged, I was completely surprised by this figure, even though the NRCAN rates the GTI at 10.0L/100Km city and 6.6L/100km highway.

The GTI was definitely a very fun car to drive: solid, quiet, smooth and quick describe it to a tee. The 5-door model is practical as well, making the GTI even more of a viable vehicle for many.

*Rating out of 5:

2007 VW GTI 5-Door
Acceleration 4
Handling 4
Comfort 3
Interior 4
Audio System 3half
Gas Mileage 4

*Rating based on vehicle’s classification

2007 VW GTI 5-Door
MSRP as tested: $33,010

For more information on VW and the GTI visit VW Canada

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