Volkswagen's small, but buff GTI has made its debut at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show, the latest iteration of this classic road ripper. The new model comes with something that previous GTI models have not offered before: two levels of power. Most notable is the big improvement in fuel economy, with the new edition seeing an 18 percent jump over the current model. The newest VW GTI goes on sale in Europe this spring with its North American debut to follow.
Standard with the new GTI is a turbocharged direct-injection four cylinder engine. This motor makes 220 horsepower and bangs out 258 foot-pounds of torque. A factory installed performance pack, the first time VW has offered one, lifts this model to 230 horsepower. Significantly, it also gains larger brakes and a much sought after torque-sensing limited slip differential.
Both models are equipped with a six-speed automatic transmission or optional dual-clutch automatic. Fuel economy comes in at 36.8 mpg for the standard model and 36.2 mpg for the high performance edition. Both models meet the new European emissions standards that kick in 2014. No word yet what we'll see in the US, but whatever does arrive will likely maintain this model's performance characteristics.
The pocket rocket GTI has long held sway in its segment, a model first released in 1976. The current iteration offers a front, transverse mounted engine, measuring 82.5 mm bore by 92.8 mm stroke. This engine has a compression ratio of 9.8 to 1. Top speed comes out at 6.5 seconds when traveling from 0 to 100 km / h. Its maximum speed is 153 mph and its weight comes in at just under 3,000 pounds.
Adding to its sporty person are its red-painted brake calipers, a pair of chrome tailpipes, and a lowered sport suspension. Other design features include 17-inch "Brooklyn" GTI wheels set within 225/45 tires, customized side skirts, a rear diffuser, and blacked-out LED tail lights with LED license tag illumination.
Cabin and Technology
Inside, the cabin features sport bucket seats with a tartan pattern, an ebony headliner, and rouge ambient lighting. Classic GTI features prized by enthusiasts include a sport steering wheel, GTI shifter knob grip and instrument cluster, custom trim inserts, and stainless steel foot pedals and support.
Standard with every model is a sport steering system, automatic climate control, parking assist, the latest version of the brand's information and entertainment system and a winter package that includes heated front steers. Just three body colors will be available: red, black and white.
The new VW model finds itself with an increasing number of competitors including the Mini Cooper S, the Hyundai Veloster turbo, the Mazda Mazdaspeed3, Subaru WRX and the Ford Focus ST. Still, when it comes to all around performance, the GTI remains the benchmark by which all other small performance cars are judged.