A redesigned GTI hatchback coupe with a 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is scheduled to debut during the first quarter of 2006. Meanwhile, the current-generation GTI continues for a short 2006 model run. The V-6 GTI has been dropped, which leaves only the turbocharged four-cylinder model. Volkswagen's Electronic Stabilization Program, heated front seats and 17-inch alloy wheels are now standard.
The GTI carries on the tradition of being an affordable "pocket rockets" by providing performance in a small, high-value package. GTIs have been part of the Volkswagen lineup for two decades.
The GTI has a 98.9-inch wheelbase and measures 164.9 inches long overall. Each GTI is equipped with a sport suspension, darkened taillight lenses and dual tailpipes. Body-colored bumpers, mirror housings, side moldings, door handles and grille round out the exterior picture.
The upright styling of the GTI allows occupants to sit more vertically than in most small cars. Space is adequate for four adults, though seating for five is provided. Height-adjustable rear head restraints are standard. The area behind the rear seat holds 18 cubic feet of cargo, and the 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold to provide additional cargo space. Folding the seats creates 41.8 cubic feet of cargo room. The instruments are backlit in a vibrant blue hue at night, and the driver faces a sporty, three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel.
Under the Hood
A turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 180 hp at 5,500 rpm and 173 pounds-feet of torque at 1,950 rpm is the sole engine offered in the GTI. A five-speed-manual gearbox is standard, while a five-speed-automatic transmission with Tiptronic operation for manually selected gear changes is optional.
Standard side curtain-type airbags protect the heads of outboard occupants in side collisions. Seat-mounted side-impact airbags, all-disc antilock brakes and daytime running lights are also standard.
An automatic-transmission GTI delivers impressive performance. Having so much power at hand raises the fun quotient, and this hatchback's confident handling makes it even more appealing.
But be a little wary of the 17-inch tires in models with the sport suspension. Even though the 1.8T's ride doesn't qualify as punishing, occupants do get tossed around more when the pavement gets rough. The ride remains pleasant on smooth surfaces, but small road imperfections can produce a jolt.