Many enthusiasts consider the Volkswagen GTI the original "hot hatch" compact car. Based on the Golf platform, the GTI was introduced to the U.S. in 1983 as the performance-oriented version of the Rabbit (then, as now, the Golf was renamed the Rabbit for the American market). With its ideal combination of utility, efficiency, and fun-to-drive character in a single package, the GTI is one of the most-recognized Volkswagen models on the road, due in part to the fact that the Golf from which it springs is VW's perennial best-selling platform. Originally a 2-door hatchback, a 4-door GTI model joined the lineup in 2008.
Debuting at the 2008 Paris Motor Show is the sixth generation of the Golf-based GTI (known as the MK VI). Instantly recognized as a GTI, this hot little hatch retains a restrained look with the latest model-though it swaps the previous-generation's Audi-style large grille for a more conservative design. Recalling its early styling, the new 2010 Volkswagen GTI includes red accents on the grille, replicating how it appeared back in the 1980s. While the wheels look mostly unchanged from today's GTI, the mirrors have lost their body-color paint, and the impact strip nestled half-way up the side has been removed. The body creases are more pronounced, giving the car a more aggressive stance even if the greenhouse appears nearly unchanged from the 2009 model.
Under the hood, the 2010 Volkswagen GTI gets the latest edition of the VW/Audi 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. It is rated at 210 hp and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to either a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed dual clutch transmission that VW calls the Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). While the GTI retains its front-wheel-drive configuration, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential called "XDS" will help keep the power on the ground and provide more grip during sporty maneuvering. Acceleration for the 2010 model will be 6.9 seconds to 60 mph, according to VW. Although official numbers have not been released, the highway fuel economy of this sporting yet efficient hatchback is expected to come in at around 30 mpg. The 2010 GTI will go on sale in Europe in the spring, and then arrive in the United States in the summer of 2009.
All 2010 Volkswagen GTI models feature driver and passenger front air bags, driver and front passenger side thorax air bags, side curtain air bags, and front safety belt pre-tensioners. In addition, all GTI models are equipped with standard ESP (stability control), ASR (anti-slip control), ABS (anti-lock brakes), and a tire-pressure-monitoring system.
What started as hot-hatch economy car has moved upmarket over the past two decades. As a result, the 2010 Volkswagen GTI features technology typically found on much more expensive models. The GTI will be available with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)-a system utilizing five laser beams to "read" traffic in front of the vehicle and maintain a safe driving distance. Available Park Assist Generation II enables nearly automatic parallel parking with minimal driver input, while bi-Xenon headlamps with dynamic curve lighting swivel through 13 degrees of movement to follow the curves in the road and maintain illumination for increased safety.