Oh, what a difference a year makes. In the 12 months that we tested our long-term 2015 GTI, Volkswagen went from being on top of the world to having its entire existence turned upside down. Indeed, the diesel scandal rocked the entire automotive landscape, and Volkswagen as a company is still recovering and rethinking its future plans in the wake of this mess. While it might seem like it's all skulls and crossbones over at VW AG, there are still plenty of things for the company to be proud of. The GTI, for example. We put roughly 20,000 miles on a Carbon Steel GTI over the course of a year. No, they weren't all perfect, but overall, the GTI became a dear friend to the Autoblog staff. When our time was up at the end of January, the GTI was just as plucky and solid as it was when we picked it up 12 months earlier. This is truly a great car, and we're going to miss it terribly. But perhaps more than anything, our GTI served as a constant reminder that even in the wake of the lying, cheating diesel scandal, not everything is going up in a cloud of smoke over at Volkswagen. Here's what we learned from a year behind the wheel of our favorite little hot hatch. The performance pack is nice, but you don't need it. We specifically chose to not fit our GTI with the optional, $1,495 performance package, which adds 10 horsepower, slightly larger front brakes, and the company's Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) suspension. DCC is lovely, but we never found the standard setup's ride quality to be too harsh or too soft – instead, it strikes a just-right balance for everyday livability. On the power front, in our introduction post, I wrote, "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.'" And unless my coworkers were holding back, not a single page in the car's logbook mentions a need for extra power. Unless you're planning on tracking your GTI, the performance package isn't a totally necessary add-on. So if you're considering the GTI and not sure what to do, know that you won't make a mistake by choosing to keep that $1,495 in your pocket. The base model is where it's at. Honestly, when it comes to the GTI, you can keep a lot of money in your pocket and still get a totally perfect car. Our tester was the base S, with no navigation, no sunroof, the standard audio system, and manual, cloth seats. But don't look at it that way. Instead, think of it like this: right off the bat, you get incredibly supportive, heated cloth (plaid!) seats; you get Volkswagen's XDS torque-vectoring differential for better front-wheel-drive dynamics; you get an infotainment system with App-Connect smartphone mirroring. And if you add the $995 lighting package, you get a $27,200 GTI (including $820 …
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|MPG||25 City / 34 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd man w/OD|
|Power||210 @ 4500 rpm|
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