2019 VW GTI
Original ‘hot hatch’ keeps improving
- 관리자 (firstname.lastname@example.org) --
- 08 Nov 2019
By James Park
Full disclosure: this writer has a soft spot for the VW GTI (which may or may not influence the objectivity of this review).
The original ‘hot hatch’ has gone through over four decades of evolutionary changes to become one of the most desirable do-everything small cars.
When the VW Golf made its Canadian (and American) debut in 74, it was introduced as ‘Rabbit.’ The first-generation Rabbit GTI (with square headlights – for the North American market) was and still remains as one of this writer’s all-time favorite automobiles.
Challengers have come and gone. From Dodge Omni GLH (remember?) to Ford Focus ST and many in between have discharged noxious fumes towards the GTI in attempts to knock it off its pedestal over the years. And after all these years, the GTI still stands tall and commands respect, as well as much deserved affection with unmatched refinement, more than adequate power and the confidence-inspiring agility.
As an all-around multi-purpose vehicle, the GTI excels as a relatively affordable daily commuter with decent fuel mileage. It is also a practical hatchback, a fun-to-drive sports car and does an admirable impersonation of an entry-level luxury car that wouldn’t look too out of place parked in front of a snooty restaurant.
The car personifies the attributes of a top decathlete – like Bruce Jenner during the Montreal Olympics (never mind him after that).
As mentioned, the GTI goes through evolutionary changes – a little tweak here and there with aim to constantly improve itself over a long period of time.
The present seventh-generation came out in 2012 or so. Exterior styling-wise, that and the 2019 model look about the same at first glance. Closer scrutiny will reveal not inconsiderable difference in the designs of front fascia, headlights and taillights and so on.
The overall familiarity also carries into the car’s interior. As compared to the last GTI model this writer drove in 2015, the touch screen looks slightly bigger because all the surrounding buttons have now been incorporated into the screen itself. As before, mostly black and dark grey interior culminates into somewhat sombre and down-to-business atmosphere (not necessarily bad).
Currently in Canada, the GTI lineup consists of the base GTI, top-of-the-line Autobahn and in between, the Rabbit. This writer is glad to see the revival of ‘Rabbit’ moniker again, if just for purely sentimental reason.
The GTI Rabbit starts from $35,395 before taxes and mandatory fees. The optional Driver Assist Package pushes the price up to $37,145. The said package includes adaptive cruise, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert, lane-keep assist and the like.
As well, the Rabbit edition comes with such standard goodies as keyless entry and push-button ignition, Fender premium audio, 18’ alloys with fancy blacked-out wheels, dynamic chassis control, Android Auto and Apple Carplay connectivity among others. This writer’s test-vehicle also boasts the ‘Cornflower Blue’ paint job that really turns heads.
The Autobahn model will get you leather seats but the base and the Rabbit edition’s plaid-pattern cloth seats adhere more closely to the GTI tradition and feel just as comfortable and perhaps even more supportive.
The location of ignition button – down and to the left of gear-shift lever – is at least unique. However, placing the drive mode selector right below that can be confusing, making it possible for the driver to stab the ignition while trying to locate the drive mode switch. The driver has to take her/his eyes off the road to make sure.
Not the best system out there, but the touch screen is easy to understand. Push the volume knob off, however, and the whole infotainment system goes out. (This also happens in the Arteon I drove couple of weeks ago.) Is this really necessary?
The venerable and proven to be dependable 2.0 litre turbo four resides under the GTI’s hood. The present iteration pumps out maximum 228 horses and 258 lb-ft of healthy torque. Compared to the 2015, the 2019 model gets 18 more horses while the torque number stays the same.
There’s more than enough power not to be embarrassed at the stoplight drag races. Drive mode goes from Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport to Custom – too many. Push the Sport and the dynamic chassis control lets the car hunker down and the engine growl becomes more noticeable.
There are faster rivals, but the GTI shines with precise and communicative steering and commendable stability going through fast corners. For a front-wheel-drive car, the GTI displays no discernible torque-steer. The ride is firm but not harsh and the suspension eats up potholes and other road irregularities with relative ease.
Of course, the six-speed manual would be the more desirable transmission. The seven-speed DSG (one more gear than before), however, claims to do it faster. It is smooth enough in most situations but can be little clunky during low speed parking maneuver, especially in Sport mode.
At the end of the day, not everybody can afford to buy even two vehicles. If you need to have one car that does everything well, look no further than the GTI. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)
2019 VW GTI Rabbit
As tested: $37,145
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo four
Power: 228 hp/258 lb-ft
Transmission: 7 spd DSG
Fuel: 9.8 litres per 100km (city), 7.3 litres (highway)
Best: does everything well
Worst: DSG bit clunky at low speed
Competition: Honda Civic Si, Ford Focus ST, Hyundai Veloster Turbo
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