2011 Volkswagen GTI First Look

An Enthusiast's Hot Hatch that Anyone Can Enjoy

2011 Volkswagen GTI Front End In Motion

Volkswagen has been going through a rather large transformation in America over the last year or so. Instead of delivering a fleet of cars with German engineering and premium touches at a reasonable price, the executives at Volkswagen have decided to offer lower sticker prices and considerable cost cuts across the board. The 2011 Volkswagen GTI remains the most German-feeling (and most fun to drive) vehicle in VW's American portfolio.

Many car enthusiasts love the VW GTI because it is only available as a hatchback with a wonderful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that pumps out 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. While those enthusiasts may drool over the two-door GTI and its standard six-speed manual transmission, there's also an excellent six-sped dual-clutch transmission available for those who prefer to let the car shift itself. A four-door GTI is a great choice for those who might want to transport four adults or some large dogs without stepping up to an SUV's larger package.

Starting at $24,465, the GTI isn't the cheapest car you can find on a Volkswagen lot, but it is arguably has the nicest interior. We love the distinctive plaid cloth seats (with standard seat heaters!) and Volkswagen also offers more traditional leather seats for shoppers looking for a more conservative interior. All the surfaces found inside the GTI would be at home in a luxury car costing far more and the eight-speaker audio system sounds great. People who enjoy driving will find the steering wheel to be the perfect diameter and the flat bottom is a distinctive feature in the segment.

Even those who don't particularly enjoy driving for driving's sake will probably be looking for excuses to take a GTI out for another errand. German cars have a reputation for being sporty, comfortable, and stable at high speeds and that is certainly true of the GTI. In addition to great ride and handling characteristics, the Volkswagen GTI can haul lots of stuff inside thanks to its available four-door hatchback configuration's folding rear seats. Even with the rear seatbacks in place, the GTI has 15.3 cubic feet of storage space.

Of particular interest to car shoppers with gas prices ever rising is the GTI's 24/33 mpg ratings with the dual-clutch automatic transmission. Drivers who opt for the standard six-speed manual transmission should expect 21/31 mpg , according to the EPA. Volkswagen has proven that cars don't need to suck down lots of gas to be fun and powerful. The use of a turbocharger, modest displacement, and direct-injection technology maximizes performance while also increasing fuel economy.

There aren't many competitors to the Volkswagen GTI aside from Mazda's Mazdaspeed3, but the Mazda can't hold a candle to Volkswagen's refinement. Yes, the Mazda produces 263 horsepower but it doesn't have enough grip to put that extra power to use until you're above legal speeds, anyway. Volkswagen also offers a much more sophisticated interior and manages to cost $30 less. Another reason to consider the GTI over a Mazdaspeed3 is for an automatic transmission, there's only a manual available in the Mazda.

Volkswagen offers a lot of bang for the buck in a 2011 GTI. The car can be configured to satisfy the needs of everyone from an autocrosser to a family of four, depending on what you are looking for. With an attractive price, exceptional performance, and very good fuel economy, the 2011 Volkswagen GTI is a perennial class leader. This is exactly what we used to expect from the entire Volkswagen lineup, so if you're even remotely interested in the GTI, go drive one before VW Americanizes this model like it has the Passat and Jetta.

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