Road Test: 2007 Volkswagen GTI

The 2007 MK5 GTI
The sun is out, the roads are dry, and I am holding in my hands the keys to a black stick shift 2007 Volkswagen GTI. I've had the privilege of driving a DSG 2007 GTI, and found it to be an absolute peach of a car. While the GTI's party piece is it's versatility, helped by a seemless and lightning fast DSG transmission, I couldn't wait to start double clutch downshifting and heal toe driving in today's GTI. 

Although it already has 103,000 km on the odometer, it's rock solid well maintained 2.0 liter turbo engine and it's pristine clutch felt 100,000 kilometers younger. As I sat inside, I first noticed the Recaro seats which felt snug as a glove and provided the perfect amount of lower back support and shoulder support. The second feature to catch my eye was the squared off steering wheel. It's thick, perforated real leather feels and looks like it came straight out it's Italian cousin, the Lamborghini Gallardo. As I glanced over the standard volkswagen dials and buttons, I noticed the "ESP OFF" switch. I couldn't help the corners of my mouth raising in to an evil smile as I pressed the button three times: once to see what would happen, another time to sensibly turn ESP on again, and a third time to turn it back off as I decided life is too short for traction control.

The GTI's snug seats provide
 excellent lumbar support
The pleasantly burbling but understated exhaust note echoed throughout the parkade as the GTI climbed through the revs in 1st gear all the way to 5000 rpm, with plenty to go until the 8000rpm limiter. What an incredible sounding car! When pushing it on the road, the exhaust note evolves from a relaxed burble to a deafening roar with added turbo hiss. I usually criticize manufacturers who synthetically create exhaust tunes, like for example, in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. It's loud exhaust note leaves you wondering if there's something wrong with the engine since it's acceleration does not match it's epic machine gun soundtrack. The SLR Mclaren, Ferrari Scuderia, Porsche GT3 are all cars which produce sounds that in tune with how the engines have been derived. The lazy off-beat Harley burble of the SLR, the mechanical screaming of the Scuderia, and the relatively subdued but loud when you need it exhaust note of the GT3 all make sense. And so does the GTI's. It's there when you feel it, and it's quiet when you don't. It walks the walk, and talks to the talk. It's honest.

A beautiful end to a perfect road test
I steered onto a clear stretch of B-road and redlined each gear and only eased of the throttle in 5th gear at 215 km/h as I was forced to slow down for other road users. Mind you, the GTI has 6 gears, but you'll need both an iron stomach, a radar detector, and a private stretch of road to redline in 6th gear and reach the top speed. of 130 mph. As I flicked the front wheels in to some twisties with a fair bit of camber, the front wheels, although burdened with steering, traction, AND propulsion, eased through the turns with minimal understeer. What surprised me was the instantaneous turbo boost and the never fading torque curve in just about any gear. While the car's peak power range lies somewhere past 4000rpm, I had no trouble overtaking cars at lower revs in 5th and even 6th gear. My drive was cut short as the GTI begged me for a drink of premium fuel. I wasn't bothered since fueling up would give me a chance to admire the GTI's sleek but compact lines. Volkswagen has done an amazing job at reintroducing the subtle GTI badging that we all fell in love with many many years ago on the original GTI. She really is a thing of beauty.

Practical enough to drive the kids to school in, and fast enough to leave you with wet trousers as you race home. An inconspicuous, unpretentious hot hatch, that you can justify to the wife, nice enough to have the valet open her door. The GTI makes sense. If only some SUV drivers would recognize the practicality and excitement of the GTI, we might actually be able to save the planet. If there was one car that could convince people of doing so, it would have to be the GTI. Das Perfect Auto.