The introduction of the 2006 VW GTI marks the launch of the fifth generation of Volkswagen's venerable and compact hatchback in the U.S. market. The GTI is the high-performance version of one of the most popular cars in Europe. Other Gen-5 Golfs will follow as 2007 models, as will a four-door version of the GTI.
Long before there were "sport compact" cars, there was the Volkswagen GTI, the original hot hatchback launched in 1973. There have been a succession of GTIs since then, but none quite captured the spirit of the original, so that was precisely what Volkswagen set out to do to celebrate the fifth generation of its Golf hatchback. According to Volkswagen, Americans buy approximately seven VW Jetta sedans for every Golf hatchback (the Golf and Jetta share the same platform), but the GTI has remained a strong seller because of its enhanced performance capabilities.
The all-new 2006 model may be the best GTI yet. It doesn't feature big wings or gaudy paint designs like other so-called pocket rockets, but its turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine pumps out 200 hp and an impressive 207 lb.-ft. of torque that can propel this VW off the line and to 60 mph in less than seven seconds. While designed for sport, with either a 6-speed manual or Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) with paddle-shifters mounted on the steering wheel, the GTI also offers such options as a power sunroof, satellite radio, and a DVD-based navigation system.
Until the 2007 model year, the GTI will be available only with its traditional two-door architecture, but access to the rear seat has been eased by a "East Entry System" that allows the front seats to slide forward and then return to their former position so the driver and passenger don't have to fuss with readjustments. Those seats are available in GTI's traditional Interlagos plaid-patterned cloth or in leather. In either case, the seats are adjustable in eight directions and designed to provide the sort of lateral support needed to enjoy the GTI's dynamic driving capabilities.
The Volkswagen GTI competes against eight other models in the Compact Sporty segment, where high performance in a small, tight package is the key to success. Volkswagen's new Eos convertible will fit into this same niche.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the Scion tC led this segment in 2005 with 74,415 units sold during the calendar year. The tC was followed by the Subaru Impreza (33,637 units sold), Mitsubishi Lancer (27,849), and Hyundai Tiburon (20,600). The segment also includes Mazda's MX-5 Miata and two new roadsters from GM-the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn SKY.
|1.8T (EOP 35/05) (M5)||5 speed manual||$20,340||180-hp / 1.8L 4-cyl||24/31|
|2-Door (New) (M6)||6 speed manual||$21,990||200-hp / 2.0L 4-cyl||23/32|