Volkswagen GTI Interior
The interior of the 2008 GTI is comfortable and inviting, with room for five and wins very broad praise from most reviewers. The New York Times says, "The rich interior flaunts the masculine character and precise feel that VW's are known for."
Kelley Blue Book seconds that take, saying "The interior of the GTI is crafted with a level of materials and build quality that outclasses some very good competition."
Just as important to reviewers is the surprising storage space afforded by the hatchback. "It may look compact on the outside, but there's an amazing amount of room inside," notes New Car Test Drive. "The Volkswagen GTI offers passenger and luggage space on par with the Passat, VW's mid-size family sedan." Forbes says that the interior "brilliantly walks the line between adult-sports-sedan earnest and VW fun."
Materials, fit and finish are widely praise as first-rate, reflecting VW's long-standing reputation for excellence in car interior design. Business Week observes, " It seems as if many of the switches and controls throughout the cabin were directly inherited from sister-brand Audi's vehicles," while The adds, " The fit and finish is among the best in the class, as are the choices of materials and surfaces."
The seats in the GTI are seen as providing the best blend between sporty support and comfort. The fabric features a plaid pattern inset, which while striking in appearance, it also pays homage to Volkswagen seat fabric designs from decades back. Motor Trend finds, "The plaid front buckets are two of the best seats in the industry, with supportive side bolstering and comfortably firm cushions." It adds, however, "The seat rake controls, unfortunately, are those old German car twist-knobs. Some things don't change." "The GTI's emphasis on the driver is evident," notes MSN, adding, "Front bucket seats are thick and well-shaped to cradle bodies."
The plaid design repeatedly drew mixed reviews from test drivers. "Upon entering the GTI's cabin the first thing I noticed was the tartan seat cloth," notes About.com. The seat patterns garner a lot of reviewer interest, much of it ambivalent. Forbes strikes a representative stance: "Did we mention the plaid sports seats? They're very supportive, and naturally you don't notice their pattern when seated on them, but this is one polarizing design aspect."
Some reviewers find the cockpit a bit tight. TechnoRide points out, "Larger drivers may want try out the sport seats before taking the GTI home. This is not Shaq's car." The gripes, "The seats are not only narrow, but the sides of the seat cushion bottoms also flare up to provide thigh support while the side bolsters pinch in on the ribs to support the upper body in high-speed maneuvering. That would be OK if hadn't used Paris Hilton's frame in setting seat dimensions."
Still, others like the side bolstering. Car and Driver, for instance, praises the "heavily bolstered seats that hold occupants in place and yet are comfortable for the long haul." Kelley Blue Book agrees: "Well-bolstered cloth seats and even deeper leather ones provide plenty of support to keep you from having to fight the lateral forces you're having so much fun generating. They're also comfortable."
The back seat gets mixed reviews regarding comfort and space. The Sacramento Bee asserts, "Two humans in the back, tops," and argues, "Putting three adults in the back of this small pocket rocket would be a cruel and unusual experience in flesh pressing." The , on the other hand, reports, "Rear seat room was OK." And finally, Velocity Journal observes, "The back seats are flat, with minimal contouring for occupant comfort."
Velocity Journal is among reviewers pointing out that the GTI's "option list is short." This is largely because, as MSN puts it, "The car is fairly well-equipped with comfort and convenience features." These standard features include a 10-speaker sound system, a tilting and telescopic steering wheel wrapped in leather, air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows and locks with keyless entry.
Stereo and Entertainment
The base audio system in the GTI includes a MP3/CD/six-disc CD changer in the dash. TechnoRide Observes that, "The audio display is a monochrome LCD that looks like a 10-year-old laptop display (before color arrived). And because it's small, when you choose one command, such as volume, something else, such as the station presets, is hidden." In general, reviewers agree with the New York Times: "The stereo sounds good, though its control panel is fussy and annoying."
The optional navigation system's position in the dash relocates the standard CD-changer under the center armrest, a location many test drivers disliked. Cars.com states, "That's not great placement, but at least it's inside," noting that prior GTIs has placed the changer in the back of the car. Also new this year is an auxiliary audio input jack and an optional iPod adapter.
The navigation system itself was a sore spot with many reviewers, who criticized its speed, graphics and controls. Cars.com, reflecting the opinion of a number of reviewers,, writes, "Overall, the German brands' GPS-based navigation systems are less useful than others, with more cumbersome controls and typically less street labeling on the maps." The reviewer continues, "The GTI's shows some progress, but it still uses keys alongside the display rather than a touch-screen." CNET provides additional complaints: "The navigation system suffers from an extremely slow processor, and we found it frequently frustrating to use. It takes a while to draw its maps and, much worse, doesn't show an accurate position of the car during speeds more than 30mph. This latter issue is due to the graphics not keeping up with the position of the car, and often led us to miss a turn on our route."
The hatchback gives the GTI more cargo space than many of its competitors. The Family Car points out, "It can hold a nuclear family and enough luggage for that annual vacation. Its hatchback configuration, combined with fold-down rear seats, even gives it an edge for those trips to the home improvement center."
Small touches throughout the cabin make the GTI even more practical. New Car Test Drive explains, "Cargo can be secured via four tie-down hooks. There's also a cargo cover to hide your gear; the cover can be removed when carrying taller objects." Velocity Journal likes the "numerous small storage spaces" and mentions, "The center console has a smallish compartment, while the door panels have deep hard-sided pockets that can accommodate a variety of items including a travel mug or bottle." "There's a power plug in the cargo hold as well," reports the .