2007 Volkswagen GTI & 2007 Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Click image to enlarge
Article by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: Sports Hatchback / Sedan
History/Description: Turbocharged hatchbacks are awesome, mainly, because they’re turbocharged, and because they’re hatchbacks, at the same time. This means plenty of wooshy power, plenty of room for your things, plenty of flexibility for activities, and an easy sports-car sell to the wife – who you can tell that your new turbo hatch is actually a sensible station wagon, not a boosted boy-racer plaything.
A pioneer in the market, the Volkswagen GTI was one of the first cars to combine attributes of a sporty coupe with a useful and flexible hatch. It continues to be a highly sought-after combination to this very day – as well as a hot item in the used-car marketplace.
Depending on the used model you’re after, look for options like a sunroof, heated leather, xenon lighting, 18-inch wheels, heated mirrors and a 10-speaker stereo system with six-CD changer. Brushed aluminum pedals, metallic accents and chrome door handles could also be specified, and you’ll likely find plenty of storage on board for personal belongings. Rear seats fold to help if you’re got a lot of junk to put in the trunk.
Note that the GTI had a close relative called the GLI, which effectively amounted to the same powertrain and chassis upgrades executed as a sports-sedan variant of the Jetta. As the GTI and GLI are mechanically identical, information below can be used interchangeably.
Engines / Trim: So-called Mark V generation GTI models were available in three or five-door models from 2007 to 2009. The GLI, being a sedan, came only in a four-door layout. All were powered by a 2.0L four-cylinder engine with direct injection and an intercooled turbocharger. Output was rated at 200 horsepower, and transmission options included a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch ‘Direct Shift Gearbox’ or DSG. The DSG transmission functions as an automatic, but can also execute perfectly rev-matched and lightning-fast shifts via shift paddles mounted to the steering wheel, which is sweet.
What Owners Like: Owner-stated likes of these twins seem to back up the fact that with every generation of this car, Volkswagen seemingly nails delivery of the sensible stuff that Canadian shoppers love. Performance was top-notch: smooth, abundant, torque-rich and complete with pleasing sound effects. More importantly, GTI and GLI owners typically appreciate reasonable fuel bills, too. The sensation of firing off millisecond gearshifts via the DSG transmission is praised frequently. Race-car handling, a refined and useful interior, and a hearty feeling of quality, conveyed at least partially by a selection of premium materials, rounds out the package.
What Owners Dislike: Gripes reported by owners are quite minimal. Some owners wish for more knee room, and others wish the GTI and GLI came with more factory firepower, noting that a Subaru WRX or Mazdaspeed 3 can dust it in a drag race.
2007 Volkswagen Jetta GLI & 2008 Volkswagen GTI. Click image to enlarge
The Test Drive: Put on your sports-car shopper hat and forget getting on board until you’ve confirmed, at least visually, that the seller isn’t trying to stick you with a worn-out set of tires and brakes. Carefully inspect the body for misaligned panels, rust, chipping or paint wear. Confirm proper operation of both xenon lights, and the operation of the hatch struts.
On board, inspect all electric and electronic features for proper operation. The climate control, the stereo, navigation, motorized seat adjustments, steering-wheel mounted controls and Bluetooth should all be run through their paces.
Though the 2.0T powerplant appears more reliable and solid than the often troublesome 1.8T engine it replaces, it’s not free of issues.
Where possible, and especially on higher-mileage units, remove the plumbing that connects the turbocharger to the intercooler and inspect for oil buildup inside. A thin film of oil is typically normal – though any pooling or heavy buildup could indicate worn out turbo seals which are allowing engine oil to seep through and into the engine’s air supply.