DETROIT - It had been more than a year since we first test drove the Volkswagen GTI so we were delighted to get it for a week on our turf.
However, conditions weren't the greatest. It was in the middle of winter; the weather was cold, really cold, streets were marred by pot holes, road construction was rampant and the sun rarely shined. But the brightest moment of our time with the VW GTI came in the dead darkness of a winter night.
We were headed to a Valentines Day dance and a friend asked for ride. We nervously obliged. Our anxiety was because our friend is what's called a "Big Man." We're talking somebody who was roughly 6'ft. 9" inches tall, or better, and who weighed a good 270 lbs.
The bottom line is we wondered whether he would be able to get in the car and once in, would he be comfortable. We'll we watched as he curled himself into the VW GTI, looked around and said "this is bigger than it looks."
He could sit up straight, meaning he had enough headroom. He was comfortable, meaning he had enough leg room. And he buckled himself in, meaning he was safe. What's more, he didn't crowd us.
Where we were going was about 15- minutes away. It was a short trip but it was more than enough time for him to get a feel for the GTI. For a guy this size, being attuned to the interior is a natural. He thought the seats were comfortable and he was particularly impressed with the layout of the instruments as well as our test vehicle's equipment.
It had a sunroof, not that it would be used at that time of the year. There was satellite radio, partial leather sport seats that were heated, dual zone climate control, a DVD based navigation system, a six disc CD changer stored in the center console and 18- inch allow wheels.
All of that was in the option package. Amongst the GTI's standard equipment were Xenon headlamps, side curtain airbags, front fog lights and a tire pressure monitoring system.
After some aggressive pressure on the gas pedal a few times, our friend knew that the GTI could move. It was powered by a 2.0- liter 200 horsepower four- cylinder engine that made 207 pounds- feet of torque. The gearbox was a six- speed manual.
Direct fuel injection provided instant acceleration. Electro magnetic mechanical power steering provided the crisp handling to get around the rift of small pot holes that form each winter. And independent front suspension paired with the multilink s up in the rear provided a firm ride; but one that did not leave us sore from the ride.
The GTI was front wheel drive but we didn't experience any torque steer. We found the car very maneuverable, comfortable, easy to drive, quick, nimble and more than fast enough and very road capable.
There was really nothing that we did not like about the Volkswagen GTI. Our test vehicle was priced at $29,290.00