2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T
2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T
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by Grant Yoxon

New warranty, new automatic transmission, more power for 2002

For the 2002 model year, Volkswagen offers sport compact enthusiasts a more powerful 1.8 T four cylinder engine and an optional 5-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission for the GTI and Jetta GLS models. Benefiting all Volkswagen buyers is a new warranty offering four year/80,000 km bumper-to-bumper coverage and a fully transferable powertrain warranty for five years or 100,000 km.

2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T
2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T
2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T
Click image to enlarge

The turbocharged, intercooled, five valve per cylinder 1.8 T engine now puts out 180 horsepower at 5,500 rpm, an increase of 30 horsepower over the previous generation 1.8 T, and 174 lbs. ft of torque – up from 155 lbs. ft – all the way from 1,950 to 5,000 rpm, an extraordinarily long and flat torque curve.

Volkswagen estimates 0 to 96 km times of 7.5 seconds for the GTI and 7.7 seconds for the 1.8 T Jetta GLS.

Few competitors can match this power output, except Subaru’s amazing 225 horsepower 2.0 litre in the Impreza WRX. While the WRX will set you back $35,000, compact performance enthusiasts can taste 1.8 T power for a base price of $25,895 in the GTI and $25,930 in the Jetta GLS.

The four-cylinder 1.8 T GTI and Jetta GLS are more powerful than last year’s 174 horsepower 2.8L VR6 models. To compensate, the 2002 VR6 will have four valves per cylinder and put out 201 horsepower. A 6-speed manual transmission will also be available in the VR6.

 


Fewer models, more options for 1.8 GTI

2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T, c. www.autos.ca
2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T, c. www.autos.ca
2002 Volkswagen 1.8 GTI
2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T
Click an image to enlarge

The GLS and GLX trim levels in the GTI will no longer be available. Instead, buyers can opt for an engine option (1.8 T or VR6) and several stand alone options to dress up the base GTI.

Standard equipment on the GTI 1.8T includes sports suspension, traction control, darkened taillights, sports seats, heated power outside mirrors, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, anti-theft alarm system and immobilizer, cruise control, power windows and door locks, 60/40 split folding rear seat, fog lights and 16-inch alloy wheels.

Options include a leather package, a “luxury package” with power glass sunroof, Monsoon stereo and 17-inch alloy wheels, and a cold weather package that includes heated windshield washer nozzles and heated seats.

The four-door 1.8 T Jetta GLS is not as well-equipped in base trim as its coupe/hatchback GTI counterpart. Standard wheels are 15-inch steel rims with wheel covers, sports suspension is optional and fog lights are not available, for example. But with optional extras, a Jetta GLS can be equipped as a sport sedan with the added functionality of four doors.


Safety features

The GTI and Jetta GLS include side-impact air bags, front driver and passenger air bags, seat-belt tensioners, lower anchorage and tethers for children – the LATCH system – in the rear outboard seating positions, and lockable headrests for passengers in all three rear seating positions. Optionally, both vehicles may be equipped with Side Curtain Protection, an airbag system that helps protect the heads of front and rear passengers in a severe side-impact collision. The air bag deploys as a protective curtain of air from the rear pillar of the car and spans the length of both side windows. Active safety features include four-wheel disc brakes with standard ABS braking and electronic brake force distribution.


First impressions

2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T, c. www.autos.ca
2002 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 T
Click image to enlarge

We spent about four hours behind the wheel of a five-speed manual, 1.8 T GTI and a 1.8 T Jetta equipped with the optional Tiptronic five-speed automatic transmission at Volkswagen’s North American press introduction last week in rainy Ypsilanti Michigan.

The GTI, with optional 17-inch alloy wheels and P225/45 R 17 all-season radials, leather seating, CD player and sun roof provided a comfortable driving environment. The seats are firm but supportive. The black dash, black gauges with white lettering (illuminated in blue at night) and black centre stack (illuminated in pink) is spartan but functional. The contrasting pink and blue illumination is an unusual combination.

Cup holders slide out of the dash. Map pockets in the doors, a rather small glove box and small storage bin in the folding arm rest provide storage for front passengers. The Jetta shares a similar front passenger interior treatment.

The GTI’s five-speed manual transmission is one of its best features, providing firm, short shifts. Clutch action is light.

Handling is predictable. The GTI turns corners flat and smooth, the wide 17-inch tires providing excellent grip, even on rain soaked roads. The ride is firm and the steering provides good feedback from the road.

To those familiar with the VW GTI, these comments are nothing new. What is new for 2002 though is a whole bunch more power coming from the small displacement turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder motor.

The power is not instantaneous. The GTI leaves well from a standing start, but 0 to 50 k/h is not spectacular, as there is some lag before the turbo kicks in and delivers the goods. For spectacular, one must move above 2000 rpm and keep the engine working within the upper reaches of its broad 2000 – 5000 rpm sweet spot. Here the 1.8 T will pull in any gear, deliver incredible rushes of power, keep both your hands on the wheel, and put a smile on your face as broad as the 1.8 T’s torque curve.

2002 Volkswagen 1.8 T Jetta GLS
2002 Volkswagen 1.8 T Jetta GLS
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With it’s automatic transmission and more supple suspension, the Jetta seemed like a more civilized car. But slide the transmission lever into the manual gate and Jetta was ready to run as well.

Usually I find that clutchless shifting on an automatic transmission is little more than a gimmick, the transmission shifting equally well in automatic mode as manual mode. Why bother. But in the Jetta, it is the best way to turn up the action on the 1.8 T and really have a good time driving. While shifts are a bit soft, manual shifting keeps the rpm up and turbo turning.

If you need four doors and space for additional passengers (the GTI is not a practical family car), the Jetta offers functional seating with few compromises for drivers who like to drive.


A warranty that can compete

2002 Volkswagen 1.8 T Jetta GLS
2002 Volkswagen 1.8 T Jetta GLS
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Those who shied away from a Volkswagen because of its two-year warranty, can now buy with confidence. VW has doubled its basic bumper-to-bumper warranty to four years or 80,000 kilometres. The warranty covers wear-and-tear items and adjustments during the initial 12 months or 24,000 kilometres of ownership. Twenty-four hour roadside assistance is also provided throughout the warranty period. In addition, Volkswagen will offer a fully transferable limited powertrain warranty that covers five years or 100,000 kilometres. This new warranty applies to all Volkswagen vehicles.

The new 1.8 T GTI and Jetta GLS arrive at dealerships this Fall. Option pricing had not yet been determined at time of writing.

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