We spent some time with the 2010 Volkswagen GTI, getting the opportunity to run it through a couple of autocross courses, a track marked out by cones with sharp turns that really test the car’s handling. We also put the car through its paces on some public roads, and dug through the cabin electronics.
The GTI’s ride is reasonably comfortable, which is actually impressive considering how it performed on the autocross course. As we threw it into hairpin turns and guided it through S curves, all the action was at the front wheels.
The power was a little iffy–when the engine speed dropped too far, for example coasting through a turn, it took a moment to come back on when we mashed the gas pedal to get power down a straight. That behavior is what we expect from a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But keeping some throttle on at all times helped combat that power loss.
The engine produces 200 horsepower at 5,100rpm, an engine speed difficult to come near during the tight maneuvering of autocross. The torque is a more accessible 207 pound-feet, peaking from 1,800rpm to 5,000rpm, but sometimes the engine speed dropped too low for the twist to come on right away. We also had a higher speed course to drive, and on that we were able to make better use of the available power, and experienced no lag. When we got the engine speed high during some fast starts, it produced a high-pitched growl.