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#2

in 2010 Upscale Small Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $14,298 - $15,008
Original MSRP: $23,465 - $25,170
MPG: 21 City / 31 Hwy
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2010 Volkswagen GTI Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Above all else, the 2010 Volkswagen GTI is an impressive performer. Reviewers praise the car's turbocharged, four-cylinder engine and smooth transmissions for providing a great driving experience. It’s even more appealing for 2010 with the addition of a standard electronic differential system called XDS, which enhances traction in fast corners.

  • "Among the best-handling front-wheel-drive cars. All have outstanding grip in fast turns with quick, precise steering. The brakes deliver worry-free stops." -- Consumer Guide
  • "So VW doesn't catch one of its two chief competitors, the MazdaSpeed3 in terms of torque or horsepower, and its handling isn't as Formula One-edgy as the other, the Honda Civic Si. Instead, it's a smoother, more refined, better balanced hot hatch that still maintains the feeling of a relatively lightweight, cheeky little car." -- Motor Trend
  • "The GTI drives well no matter how you drive it. It's as if the car has a built-in mood sensor. Feeling calm? The GTI will cruise smoothly and quietly down the freeway. Feeling agressive? The GTI will attack your favorite curvy road like a demon tomcat. Whatever you want, the GTI delivers." -- About.com
  • "It might roll more and grip less than higher-strung competitors, but those who must commute as well as carve canyons will appreciate the GTI's impressive combination of responsive handling and everyday livability." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2010 GTI's engine is a turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. The GTI's standard transmission is a six-speed manual, but there's an optional automatic. Test drivers determine the GTI has plenty of power and very little turbo lag.

The EPA rates the 2010 GTI at 21/31 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission and 24/32 mpg with the automatic. These figures give it the best base fuel economy in its class.

  • “The GTI is still some 60 horses short of the engines found in the Mazdaspeed 3, the Chevrolet Cobalt SS, and the Subaru Impreza WRX, and acceleration is not likely to improve." -- Car and Driver
  • "Despite a slightly diesel-like coarseness just off idle, the 2.0T remains one of the most well-mannered four-cylinders on the road." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Despite some low-speed turbo lag, GTIs have quick acceleration and impressive highway passing punch. The manual transmission shifts with exemplary precision, but some testers would like shorter throws. The automatic shifts smoothly in automatic or manual mode.” -- Consumer Guide
  • “The Mazdaspeed3 and the Cobalt SS have serious torque-steer issues, which really dampens the fun factor. The GTI, in contrast, is almost as benign as a rear-drive car like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe (which, by the way, is probably the GTI's best rival in terms of grins-per-dollar)." -- About.com
  • "Call us Luddites if you must (Luddites!), but if your desire is a satisfying driver's car, then there is no question that the six-speed manual is the box to get. It's just more fun.” -- Autoblog
  • "Acceleration from a stop is impressive, but once at highway speeds the pulling power is diminished. That's expected though as the GTI is still a reasonably priced hot hatch and not a sports car.” -- AutoGuide.com

Handling and Braking

Reviewers find the GTI's handling compliments its excellent acceleration. Steering is widely praised as precise, responsive and well-engineered. New for 2010 is a standard electronic differential system called XDS, which gently brakes the inside front wheel to increase traction in fast corners. Reviewers say the system is a big plus since front-wheel-drive cars often have trouble gaining traction when accelerating out of a curve.

  • "XDS not only rubs out any hint of torque steer, it does a remarkable job of limiting understeer -- even if you mash the throttle well before the apex of a corner." -- Car and Driver
  • "The GTI also comes with the most precise electronic power steering in the business, with a lightness and feedback that belies its system. Conversely, the brakes felt okay, but not solid and powerful like most German brake systems. Fade came too easily in mountain road sprint exercises." -- Motor Trend
  • "In general, the GTI imparts a feeling of solidity through its suspension and controls that one rarely finds in this segment." -- Edmunds
  • "We're delighted in the GTI's quick and precise steering." -- New Car Test Drive

Next Steps: 2010 Volkswagen GTI

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