Always the benchmark
1976 may not strike you as a particularly important year historically, unless of course, you were born (like me) or married that year. In fact, like any other year in recorded history, many events took place at the time that have left a mark on our society today in one respect or another. For example, the Toronto Blue Jays were created, across the way, the CN Tower was erected, the Apple company was formed and the Summer Olympics took place in Montreal (that mark still has not healed completely...).
One other notable event was the inception of the car that would send all other manufacturers back to the drawing board, trying to think of a rebuttal. Midway through that year, the Volkswagen GTI came to be and the performance compact car was born, also known as the hot-hatch segment.
Although the car only made its way to our North American shores in 1982, the legend had already grown well beyond the European continent. There was something special about the GTI then (still the case today) as anyone who knew anything about or loved cars realized that this one was different.
These roman numerals indicate that the present Golf (no longer known as the Rabbit) is now in its sixth iteration. What we can expect then, is that the car has received a number of physical and mechanical improvements. Body-wise, the new 2010 GTI carries the near totality of the Golf's enhancements, including but certainly not limited to the headlights, mirrors, door handles, thicker windows, muscular shoulder line and revised front fascia.
The GTI sets itself apart on numerous levels. My favourite touch? The return of the red trim lines that adorn the grille. Elsewhere, the GTI now sports a true dual exhaust system much like the MKIV R32 had, which is to say single pipes on each end. Between them, VW has integrated a new air diffuser and above all that, a revised hatch spoiler. The only part of the exterior design that does not sit too well with me are the fang-shaped fog lights; I'm a sucker for plain round ones.
Never was broke but now fixed
Volkswagen is renowned for providing owners of their products with some of the finest cabins in the industry. The latest Golf and GTI are obviously no different. Although the general ergonomics are just about identical to that of the outgoing Rabbit's, VW raised the bar design and class-wise. Perhaps the most eye-catching part of the lot is the Passat CC-inspired steering-wheel that, on its own, speaks volumes about the German carmaker's attention to detail and desire to impress.
Beyond the Golf, the GTI gains obligatory red stitching on the wheel and shift lever, brushed aluminium and chrome inserts, standard Climatronic and dark pillar and headliner trim. The seats also offer heavier bolstering and the unique “Jacky” pattern (previously known as Interlagos) returns for those that forego leather and stick to cloth (I know I would...).
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