A redesigned GTI hatchback coupe with a 200-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder debuted in 2006. For 2007, an auxiliary audio input jack and tire pressure monitoring system come standard, and the ride height is reduced for a sportier appearance. A premium sound system and iPod adapter are now available, and launch control comes standard on models with the DSG transmission.
Cruise control has been simplified, and the radio buttons now have a silver finish. Volkswagen says it's planning a special model and will offer redesigned alloy wheels later in the model year.
The GTI carries on the tradition of being an affordable "pocket rocket" 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, measures 164.9 inches long overall and comes with standard 17-inch alloy wheels. 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. Volkswagen's Electronic Stabilization Program and heated front seats come standard.
Under the Hood
The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 200 hp at 5,500 rpm and 207 pounds-feet of torque at 1,800 rpm. A six-speed manual gearbox is now standard, while a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic operation for manually selected gear changes is optional.
Standard side curtain 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.
Be a little wary of the 17-inch tires in models with the sport suspension, though. 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.