What a great way to be introduced to Volkswagen?s latest iteration of the hot hatchback.? Pulling south onto the infamous Highway 101 is always a challenge with five lanes of traffic moving up to about 75 mph ?– it?s organized chaos. ?
My route to the hotel meandered through the Santa Cruz Mountains on roads less traveled,? wrapping through the hills and valleys.? It was a perfect display of the fantastic GTI handling.? Pushing hard at times, the GTI doesn?t scream at corners; it carves them with skier-like precision.? Even though the GTI is a puller (front-wheel drive), there was only a hint of torque steer.
Volkswagen?s award winning 200-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is under the hood, with a choice of standard six-speed manual transmission or the quick shifting DSG twin clutch six-speed automatic with Tiptronic and paddle shifters. ?With the efficient DSG transmission, the GTI gets an EPA fuel economy rating of 24 mpg city and 32 mpg.? The manual transmission is rated at 21/32 mpg.
Pricing starts at $23,990, including the destination charge, for the two-door with a manual transmission. ?The four-door is $600 more and the DSG transmission adds $1,100. Significant option packages include the Autobahn package (leather seating, power sunroof and sport seats) — $2,795; 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires — $890; Bi-Xenon headlights — $700; navigation — $1,750 and Dynaudio premium audio — $476.? A fully loaded the GTI four-door DSG price peaks at about $32,000.