Bit of an overdue purchase thread here, but at least thatís given me the time to rack up a number of miles on the car and provide a solid ownerís impression. Some backgroundÖ
Early last year, I found out that my wife and I would be moving from a mostly-zero-commute, suburban living situation, to a downtown big city/public transit living situation for my job. We moved from Tampa to the center of Chicago, and as a result, we'd need to become a one-car household. Where we live, zero-car would probably be the best situation, but I refuse to do that as Iím sure most of you can understand.
The upshot was that my beloved C7 Z51 (link) had to go. It also meant, for the first time ever, Iíd have to buy an automatic - my wife can drive a manual, but not well, and in the chaos of a big city, she didn't want to have to worry about it. Since we were selling her car, too, I took one for the team and started searching for a new GTI Sport with DSG. There weren't a ton of other cars in contention; I was looking for hatchback, and most were either manual only (FoST/FoRS/FiST, CTR), or a pricier version of what I ended up buying (Golf R). I liked the Golf R a lot, to be honest, but it didn't feel like enough of a leap forward from the GTI for the way Iíd be using the car, which is mostly city errand-running and occasional road trips, for a massive price difference ($40K OTD vs. $25K for the GTI Sport). In the end, value won out.
Because the move was pretty last minute (we had about four weeks from finding out to being on the ground in Chicago), selling the Vette privately was out. The VW dealer actually gave me a decent trade, so I decided to take it - though the salesmen there gave me more than a few looks, and rightly so. On paper, this was the biggest downgrade in history.
Weíve been in Chicago more than a year now, and love it - and I feel quite justified in my decision to get something more ďcity friendlyĒ. The streets here would have torn the Vette apart, and it wouldn't have been as usable as an only car, or in the winter. The GTI, meanwhile, fits the one-car bill perfectly. Itís fun enough and holds everything we need it to.
Itís a GTI; meaning it does pretty much everything you ask of it without fuss, whether thatís hauling four people (five in a pinch), carrying a bunch of stuff, or commuting in comfort. I think itís sharp looking, especially in white, which helps the red GTI accents really pop.
For being an automatic, I love the DSG, and it seems to suit the character of the engine really well. The ďSportĒ transmission mode is perfectly suited for the cut and thrust of hectic city streets.
The Performance Package e-diff is magic. I converted to the church of rear-wheel drive ages ago, but I have to admit that technology has really improved the FWD experience. The thing just grips and grips, and feeling the front tires gain purchase mid-corner and tighten your line, even after planting the throttle, is pretty special. Is it a substitute for a good rear-driven chassis? Of course not. Will it eventually understeer? Sure. But driven well, the differentialís capabilities are impressive.
The brakes are great. The car is probably over-braked, but then again, thereís really no such thing as too much brake, so the fact that itís running S3/Golf R brakes in a lighter package is fine by me.
Obviously, this is not a sports car. Which means itís not as engaging or rewarding to drive on a great road as a true sports car. That said, it is still fun, and as quick as I need for the time being. I haven't felt a need to flash it yet, but that might be in the cards eventually.
The infotainment, with Apple CarPlay, is pretty good - but not great. The only real issues Iíve had with the car have been the occasional crashes and glitchiness when CarPlay refuses to recognize my phone. Not a big deal, and it can usually be resolved by cycling the system and unplugging the phone, but annoying nonetheless. Iíll have the dealer check it out next time itís in for service.
The gas mileage isn't great. A lot of that is down to the city driving that we do, but even on road trips, I struggle to break 27 MPG at a steady 75 - 80 MPH cruise. Not sure whatís up with that. The DSG is geared pretty short, so that probably accounts for some of it, plus the roof rack up top. But coupled with a fairly tiny gas tank (the warning light comes on after 10 gallons have been used up - I think itís super conservative), it limits highway range to 300 miles.
And thatís pretty much it. No big issues to report, or even minor issues aside from the one mentioned above, just a solidly enjoyable, practical car. That said, our living situation may allow us to get a second car thatís a little more fun in the near future, at which point the GTI will become mostly the wifeís. She wasn't too keen on the GTI at first (meaning, when the Vette had to go away), but loves it now.
Swap day - goodbye, C7
Added a roof rack almost immediately
And then moved up to Chicago:
It hauls bikes:
It hauls trees:
And it hauls beers:
First taste of real snowfall, promptly got it stuck while parked:
Pirelli P-Zero 4s - installed:
All cleaned up recently