2010 Volkswagen GTI
2010 Volkswagen GTI. Click image to enlarge

Related articles on Autos
Test Drive: 2010 VW GTI
First Drive: 2010 VW GTI
Test Drive: 2010 VW GTI
Inside Story: 2008 VW GTI
Test Drive: 2007 VW GTI
First Drive: 2007 VW GTI
First Drive: 2007 VW GTI
Test Drive: 2005 VW GTI VR6
First Drive: 2004 VW GT
Test Drive: 2003 VW GTI VR6
Test Drive: 2002 VW GTI 1.8T
First Drive: 2002 VW GTI 1.8T
Test DriveL 1999 VW GTI GLX
Buyer’s Guide: 2011 VW GTI
Buyer’s Guide: 2010 VW GTI
Buyer’s Guide: 2009 VW GTI
Buyer’s Guide: 2008 VW GTI
Buyer’s Guide: 2007 VW GTI
Buyer’s Guide: 2006 VW GTI
Buyer’s Guide: 2005 VW GTI
GTI receives second Automobile top award

Manufacturer’s web site
Volkswagen Canada

Join Autos’s Facebook group
Follow Autos on Twitter

Review and photos by Haney Louka

Find this vehicle in Autos’s Classified Ads

Photo Gallery:
2010 Volkswagen GTI

The first thought that came to my mind after getting behind the wheel of VW’s redesigned Golf GTI was, “How refreshing!” I had just spent the previous few weeks driving overpriced, inefficient, overweight press vehicles that were supposed to be sporty (read: Acura ZDX). Now here, finally, was an affordable car that has lightning-quick reflexes, eager acceleration, and ample room for four people and their stuff.

Perhaps most importantly in these times that are supposed to make us all more conscious about the decisions we make and how they affect the environment, the GTI is only as big – and heavy – as it needs to be. And the benefits of that are realized at the gas pumps. With fuel consumption for this vehicle rated at 8.7 L/100 km city and 6.3 on the highway, you might think you were reading about a lethargic econobox, but let me assure you: this is one of the most entertaining drives this side of a Porsche Cayman.

VW has priced the GTI at $28,675 to start. That’ll buy a three-door model with six-speed manual transmission. The five-door is $29,675, and adding the dual-clutch DSG transmission to either model will bump the price up by $1,400. The only option on our five-door DSG tester was the wheel package: 18-inch “Detroit” wheels for $975, bringing the as-tested price to $32,050 before destination and taxes. Also available are the $2,600 luxury leather package (leather, sunroof, sport seats) and the $1,990 technology package (navigation, iPod connectivity, upgraded Dynaudio sound system). The sunroof can also be ordered on its own for $1,400, and rear side airbags are $450.

2010 Volkswagen GTI
2010 Volkswagen GTI. Click image to enlarge

True to VW form, the GTI’s base price includes plenty of goodies, including adaptive bi-xenon headlights, 17-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, trip computer, eight-speaker audio with touch-screen and satellite radio, Bluetooth, and stability control.

Supplying the eager acceleration mentioned earlier is VW’s corporate 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-banger. Power output is rated at 200 horses and 207 lb.-ft. of torque, which doesn’t sound like it should produce particularly stellar acceleration numbers, but let’s keep in mind that the GTI weighs only 1,400 kg, give-or-take, helping the car hit 100 km/h from a standstill in just 6.9 seconds according to Volkswagen.

But key to the day-to-day tractability of the engine’s power delivery is its near absence of turbo lag. At any engine speed above 2,000 r.p.m., the GTI pulls like a car with a much larger beast under the hood. Another look at the power figures reveals that the torque peak is actually a huge plateau, with maximum twist available between 1,700 and 5,000 r.p.m.

2010 Volkswagen GTI
2010 Volkswagen GTI
2010 Volkswagen GTI. Click image to enlarge

The last aspect of power delivery that makes the GTI such a pleasure to pilot is that it happens drama-free; quiet and smooth are the name of the game. For this type of vehicle, this is perhaps a fault, but that’s for individual customers to determine.

There’s little doubt a Mazdaspeed3 provides more attitude – and significantly more thrust – than this vee-dub at around the same price point, but where the VW excels is in its everyday tractability and refinement. The suspension is firm enough to provide a feeling of connectedness to the road, yet it has an extra measure of suppleness to avoid beating up its occupants on rough roads.

It’s also equipped with an electronic transverse differential lock that applies pressure to the inside front wheel during cornering to prevent wheelspin, helping this front-driver feel, well, less like a front-driver.

The GTI’s interior is likewise a notch above. It has a cockpit that embarrasses cars costing twice as much. From the satin-finish brushed aluminum on the steering wheel and centre console to the fine chronograph styling of the instrument panel, the GTI exudes an aura of richness that is frankly not found anywhere else at this price point. The steering wheel itself is a work of art from both an aesthetic and ergonomic perspective. Thick rimmed with red stitching, it naturally accommodates either a 9-and-3 or 10-and-2 hand position and incorporates a flat section along the bottom for more legroom when getting in and out. I’d stop short of calling it a masterpiece, but not by much.

Connect with Autos.ca