So. After engaging in radio silence for far too long, I have something to report. This wound up on my driveway late last week.

As much as I love my 850R, it is undeniably a bit long in the tooth. I don’t mind doing my own repairs, but doing them in an unheated garage in the depths of winter was beginning to get a bit old.

Used 2015 GTIs are just beginning to show up on dealer lots, most of them former VW company cars or employee leases. Sold as certified used cars, they end up with better warranty coverage than when sold from new, since the certified-used warranty stacks on top of the remaining balance of the factory coverage. I test-drove a DSG-equipped one a few weeks ago, and while I was very impressed by it, I still wanted to be able to row my own. When the dealer called me back last week, saying that they’d just got one in with the exact specification I wanted (manual transmission, sunroof and xenon lights), there was no question as to whether I’d take it.

I’ve only had it a few days, but I’m thrilled with it. Some random thoughts on it follow:

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  • The interior is a bit dark for my liking – black leather, black carpet, black dash, with gloss black accents – but it’s a very nice place to be, and feels well put-together (yes, I’m a dash stroker). The red light strips on the doors and sill plates are a nice touch.
  • Swivelling xenon headlights are magical – I’d consider them a must-have.
  • The shift action is a big improvement on the Mk6, and probably one of the nicest I’ve felt on a transverse-engined car. Wonderfully precise, short throws, and perfect weighting. The clutch is incredibly light, too – even in crawling traffic, it is never a chore.
  • The Fender premium audio system is good, but not great. I’m by no means a bass-head, but I still felt as though it was lacking in low-end punch. The MDI iPod interface is clunky and unreliable, but paired up with my Nexus 6P over Bluetooth, it works like a charm.
  • The steering wheel is awesome – chunky, flat-bottomed and leather wrapped – but the steering itself is almost entirely devoid of feel. It weights up nicely at high speeds or in sport mode, but it still feels a bit like driving in a video game.
  • Apparently, the latest generation of the 2.0t is good for 300-ish horsepower with just a tune (APR’s Stage 1). I’m quite happy with the GTI’s performance as it is, but it’s nice to know that there’s plenty of room for improvement if it becomes too tame for me.

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With there already being plenty of press coverage of the GTI, I didn’t think that there was much point in a full review, but if anybody wants to know anything about it, feel free to AMA!