The Volkswagen GTI carries on as the high-performance brother to the new Golf, which replaces the Rabbit for 2010. The new GTI gets a completely restyled exterior and interior, but mechanically it's essentially the same as its predecessor.
The GTI is available as a two- or four-door hatch with an optional Autobahn Package that's mostly interior upgrades. The GTI's competitors include the Mazdaspeed3, Subaru WRX and Mini Cooper S. The new GTI arrives at dealerships in the fall of 2009.
The GTI is based on the VW Golf, and both get a new exterior that makes them look more angular and menacing. The GTI has some unique features, including a thin, blackened honeycomb grille with two red outlining stripes; different front and rear bumpers; side skirts; and GTI badging.
In the rear, the dual tailpipes are now placed closer to the sides of the vehicle, and there's a standard rear spoiler over the hatch. The GTI sits lower to the ground than the Golf. There's a choice of 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels.
The GTI gets a new dashboard, door paneling, racing-inspired steering wheel and instrument cluster.
The GTI can seat four comfortably, or five in a pinch. Bolstered and ribbed sports seats are standard up front, and there's a 60/40-split bench in the rear. Seating surfaces have a retro plaid design — VW calls it "Interlagos" — on the cloth trim. Leather is optional.
The standard leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter have red stitching. Other standard features include a new 10-speaker audio system with a touch-screen interface, satellite radio and cruise control. The Autobahn Package includes a power sunroof, leather seating surfaces and sportier-looking front seats.
Under the Hood
The 2010 GTI has mostly the same mechanicals as the 2009 model. The GTI is equipped with a sport-tuned suspension and a 200-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 207 pounds-feet of torque.
A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, and a six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox is optional. The DSG includes launch control, a sports mode, and a sequential-manual shift mode with steering-wheel-mounted paddles for better performance and control.
New equipment on the GTI includes an electronic limited-slip control system that helps control wheelspin during sharp turns.
The GTI comes standard with antilock brakes, traction control and an electronic stability system. Side curtain airbags and front side-impact airbags are standard. Optional rear side-impact airbags are available on the four-door GTI.