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Good All Around Vehicle for Spirited Driving (Former BMW Owner) by Todd on 04/19/2012. Trim: 2012 Volkswagen GTI 4-door w/Convenience & Sunroof, Owned less than 1 year.
Pros: With an APR Stage 1 Tuning and Low Restriction intake, this car will accelerate with authority (even with odd throttle tip-in) and surpass the performance of higher priced Audis (A3 and A4, A5) , BMW's (2.8 and 3.0) and even Porsche Cayman/Boxster making this a very good value for the money. The DSG transmission works well with the motor and gives flawless shifts. Steering and handling are good, if a bit soft, like a 3-Series, but compliant and damped well in most situations. Cargo capacity is excellent and with the seats down, I was able to load four footlockers from the post office throught the hatch! Get the 4-doors.
Cons: I drive this car in a spirited manner and push it aggressively on occassion, so why VW has chosen to offer there sports car from the factory de-tuned at 200 HP does not make sense, unless to market the R32 Series variation of this platform. The GTI has an odd throttle tip-in and when combined with a slight turbo lag can give the whole car an "on and off" effect when driven aggressively. This "on and off" effect" was made even more pronounced after I had it tuned with APR software that increased HP to about 260 HP. The Brakes are the weakest link on this drivetrain and either need a different pad type or larger components, but this can be easily remedied with aftermarket upgrades.
Overall review: I am a previous BMW 3 and 5 Series owner and just traded my 08 Jetta in for a GTI. As a whole, the GTI is well executed throughout and offers a high level of content and features for the money. The build quality, materials and workmanship meet or exceed what I experienced in my previous BMW 318 and 528. I cross shopped this with the Audi A3 and found nothng to justify from a drivetrain and performance aspect the A3's additional $7-8K. Unless your looking for a wider range of paint colors or have to have automatic climate control standard and leather seats. If you want all that, just shop for an A4 Audi. I test drove one is 1984 and the GTI has evolved and been improved and updated over the last 30 years and this is reflected in its refinement and execution and makes this a good contrarian alternative to a BMW 1-Series or A3/4 Audi.
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