2010 Volkswagen GTI
This year Volkswagen decided to do away with the Rabbit name for the U.S., instead going back to the global Golf moniker, but despite the name-change, the 2010 Volkswagen GTI, based on the Golf, is still largely the same as it was last year. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
It’s been made a bit more attractive thanks to new sheetmetal tweaks that mark out the Mark VI model of the Golf, but it’s still the tossable, comfortable relatively efficient European hot-hatch that’s won so many fans over the years. For 2010, the GTI starts from $23,290, putting it shoulder-to-shoulder with competition like the MINI Cooper, Mazdaspeed3 and Honda Civic Si.
The 2010 GTI can still be had in either three-door or five-door hatchback layout, with the three-door being the decidedly sportier looking option. Neither is quite up to par with the Mazdaspeed3’s racy looks, nor is the GTI as cutesy as the MINI, making it a somewhat more mainstream choice in the segment--much like the Honda Civic Si.
Power from the 2.0-liter, 200-horsepower turbo four-cylinder is smooth and abundant considering its niche. It’s a marked departure from the rest of the Golf range, and it’s enough to make the car feel sporty if not truly fast. Thanks to the quick-spooling turbo, torque is abundant from down low, and power keeps on coming without the peaky delivery of some turbos.
Shifting is made lightning-quick and easy with the optional six-speed dual-clutch gearbox, though purists can still have the car with a six-speed manual. The manual isn’t as satisfying as it could be, however, with vague gear selection and a light clutch. With the dual-clutch’s superior efficiency, optional automatic-like convenience and quicker acceleration, it’s hard to make a case for the manual, even for the hardcore enthusiast.