• Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: AOL
  • Image Credit: AOL
  • Image Credit: AOL
  • Image Credit: AOL
  • Image Credit: AOL
  • Image Credit: AOL
  • Image Credit: AOL
  • Image Credit: AOL
  • Image Credit: AOL
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: Steven J. Ewing
  • Image Credit: AOL
  •   Engine
    Turbo 2.0L I4
  •   Power
    210 HP / 258 LB-FT
  •   Transmission
    6-Speed Manual
  •   0-60 Time
    6.5 Seconds (est.)
  •   Top Speed
    130 MPH
  •   Drivetrain
    Front-Wheel Drive
  •   Engine Placement
    Front
  •   Curb Weight
    3,031 LBS
  •   Seating
    2+3
  •   Cargo
    52.7 CU-FT (max)
  •   MPG
    25 City / 34 HWY
  •   Base Price
    $25,385
  •   As Tested Price
    $27,895
  •  
If you've ever met me, listened to me on the podcast, or come to know me through my writing during the last five years at Autoblog, the following phrase should not surprise you: I freaking love the Volkswagen GTI. I've long said that the GTI is the perfect daily driver for the everyday enthusiast – a car that offers as much practicality as it does performance, served up in a semi-premium, attractive package. I've preached the GTI's story to anyone who would listen, and I've managed to convince several people to actually go out and buy one (those folks later telling me they're super happy with their cars, by the way).

As for this new, seventh-generation GTI, I'll offer a little backstory. In 2013, Volkswagen flew me to Germany to attend the Frankfurt Motor Show, where I also got to drive a number of the company's products, including the CrossBlue crossover concept. While waiting for my turn to pilot the CrossBlue in an airport hangar, one of the German PR folks directed my attention to a white, four-door GTI sitting outside, and said I was free to have my way with it for, oh, 20 minutes... on an empty runway... in the rain. This was my first experience with the new GTI, in a fairly loaded spec, with all the performance goodies.

2015 Volkswagen GTI2015 Volkswagen GTI2015 Volkswagen GTI2015 Volkswagen GTI

Needless to say, I loved it. But my other big belief about the GTI is that this car is truly perfect in its base form. The sixth-generation car was a blast without any dynamic controls or performance whats-its, and while those things certainly help make this new hot Golf a more enthusiastic package than ever, in my eyes, they aren't completely necessary.

That's why, when it came time to order a long-term car, I took control of the options. The end result is the carbon steel gray GTI you see here, in four-door S (base) spec, with a six-speed manual transmission. Yes, I did outfit our car with the only two options available to S shoppers (aside from the $1,495 performance pack) – the $995 lighting package and $695 driver assistance pack – but other than that, it's a no-nonsense hot hatch. No sunroof. No leather. No fully power-adjustable seats. No navigation. No dual-zone climate control. No automatic headlights. No upgraded audio. The bottom line is that our long-term GTI comes in with an as-tested price of $27,895, including the $820 destination charge. That's right: a $28,000 GTI.

2015 Volkswagen GTI2015 Volkswagen GTI2015 Volkswagen GTI2015 Volkswagen GTI

What our car does have is everything you'd want in a GTI. Four doors (okay, the two-door is also cool, but decidedly less functional), heated cloth seats (in plaid!), 18-inch alloy wheels, a touchscreen infotainment system, sport traction control, user-selectable driving modes (Normal, Sport, and Individual) with Volkswagen's nifty XDS+ Cross Differential system, SiriusXM satellite radio, auto-up/down windows and LED foglamps. The optional lighting package adds bi-xenon headlamps with LED running lights, and the driver assistance pack includes front and rear park distance control, as well as forward collision warning. The lighting upgrade is a total must-have (to me, anyway), but I could probably do without the driver assistance package. Sure, the park distance control is nice, but without a backup camera, it's kind of unnecessary. After all, if you can't park something as small as a Golf, you probably shouldn't be driving, anyway.

At the heart of our GTI is Volkswagen's tried-and-true 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine, producing 210 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque – though, if reports are to be believed, those numbers could be underrated. The performance pack adds 10 hp and larger front brakes to aid with dynamics, but again, those don't seem super necessary here. I don't think a single staffer will be looking back on the GTI after our one-year loan thinking, "man, I wish I had those 10 extra ponies."

2015 Volkswagen GTI

As you can see, the GTI arrived right in the middle of a cold, snowy winter in Detroit, so the first order of business was to remove the standard Bridgestone Potenza 225/40R18 tires and instead fit the car with a meaty set of Bridgestone Blizzak rubber (same size) until the weather improves. Trust me when I say that this tire swap – which cost us $833 out of pocket, plus $85 for installation – offers a massive improvement in winter performance. I drove the GTI for three days on its stock tires, where Detroit got over a foot of snowfall, and the car got stuck in the powder on two separate occasions. Since fitting the Blizzaks, the GTI has plowed through the snow and ice with incredible prowess.

Despite me telling everyone else on staff that they could drive the GTI when they pried the keys from my cold, dead hands, I've reluctantly let other folks take our little VW to add their own impressions. Senior Editor Seyth Miersma made a video of his first experience with the GTI, here. And he was apparently having so much fun with this little hot hatch, that he incorrectly says the car makes 220 hp instead of 210. Guess Seyth must've thought I ordered the performance pack – understandable, considering how quick and fun this base spec model is.

2015 Volkswagen GTI Long-Term | Daily Driver

So far, other impressions of the GTI have been mostly positive. The car arrived with 125 miles on the odometer, and we've since completed our break-in period. As of this writing, we've got about 1,300 miles on the VW, and the miles will no doubt amass quickly. Whether it's around town or on long highway drives, the GTI has been praised for its comfortable, quiet interior, excellent powertrain, and incredible functionality. Of course, I'll be curious to see if the staff is all smiles after the initial honeymoon phase is over.

But with all my experience of GTIs old and new, I have to believe that this car will prove itself to be a truly wonderful daily driver over the next 12 months. Autoblog has a lot planned for the little long-term hot hatch, and I'm out to prove that the beauty of the GTI is in its simplicity. Here's to finding the magic in the base car.

Be sure to follow Autoblog on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more on-the-fly impressions of the long-term Volkswagen GTI, and stay tuned for more updates in the not-too-distant future.


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