Test Drive: 2013 VW GTI


Since Annie’s finally graduated and got a job, she’s interested in getting a new car. My hope is to get her to test drive a bunch of cars first. Last night we test drove the 2013 VW GTI. A couple of my coworkers have the GTI, and swear by it. One of them even has a chip that gives it an extra 50hps.

The GTI is a 2.0L 4 cylinder turbo, and is considered to be 4 door hatchback (although it comes in 2 door as well). After testing driving it with Annie, my conclusion is that it’s a small car that is packed with tons of practicality. Everything about it is awesome except the styling.

So is the myth true, are GTIs powerful? They have some pull, but nothing to write home about. You’re going to need to get a chip to really up the power to something that feels more responsive and muscly. The car claims to have 200hps and 207lb of torque. Where the power lacks, it makes up in engine responsiveness. If you get the automatic, it comes as a dual clutch transmission, which is really responsive. It shifts fast, and that’s how you stay in the power band.

2013 Volkswagen GTI Drivers Edition front side view

Handling is tight, like a Mini Cooper, except it has more comfort. It handles like a nimble small car, but is comfortable like a mid size sedan. The car feels light and the steering wheel is probably one of the best parts of the car. The paddle shifters in the automatic are a little weird though. I wouldn’t really call them “paddle shifters”—they’re more like giant fish gills. Despite the look, they work really well, and this adds to the handling of the car. You can control the balance of the car with shifting, thanks to the dual clutch tranny.

Volkswagen GTI interior

This is where the GTI exceeds. While the interior looks sparse, it’s pretty awesome. The plaid fabric chair patterns are a little cheesy, but I guess work for this car. Seats are good and the 4 door version has plenty of room in the back. There’s also a ton of head room—much more spacious than a Mini Cooper. I will note again that the steering wheel and shifter are awesome. For a 25k car, it probably has one of the best steering wheels in the business (except for the paddle shifters). The steering wheel is better than stock steering wheels from the other german manufactures like BMW, Porsche, Mercedes, and even their sibling, Audi. The ride of the car is stiff but comfortable. I really can’t say enough good things about it in this regard.

2013 Volkswagen GTI Coupe Hatchback 2 Door 2dr Hatchback Exterior 1

So here comes the sad part of the review. The GTI’s exterior is not the sexiest. Even the 2 door version looks pretty dated, even though it’s 2013 model. Yes, the 18″ rims help the look for the car, but the GTI looks like a tiny mini van. It’s not very exciting to look at—the body lines are pretty plain. The car doesn’t feel really special in terms of style, especially compared to Mini Cooper. The interior is pretty cool and stylish, but the exterior is understated. The concept version of the car is starting to look more interesting. Sadly, the 2013 GTI isn’t arousing.

Volkswagen GTI Design Vision front side view 2

So the GTI is a sweet car, anyone driving it is cool in my book. It’s got some performance that can really be enhanced with a $500 chip. With 4 doors and tons of space, it’s probably a car that I’d consider as a daily driver. Also, the price is awesome. The only thing that sucks is the exterior styling. However, if you can overlook the boring looks, it’s a fantastic car for the price. I could easily see myself owning one of these if I only had to have one car that does everything.

I will note that Annie said that if you’re guy who owns this car, you probably won’t get laid. Ouch. She’s probably right though. It has the same amount of sex appeal as my Honda Element.

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