I was about to say I’ve never driven one of these before; however, there is a slight caveat to that. I have driven an Audi A3, albeit on the other side of the road, which is based on the same platform as the the GTI. Since they’re not technically the same and I figured I should experience it on the side of the road I’m more comfortable with driving on.
Before we get to the test drive, we have to get the car started. When the salesman comes back with the key I get in the car, put the clutch in and put my foot on the brake and hit the start button. Nothing. Keep trying, still nothing. That’s when I notice nothing is work, not the map lights, nothing. Well, the salesman then goes to get a jump pack. Put that on the car and it fires right up.
As soon as I started driving, I started to have flashbacks to the A3. Now, this is not bad thing as after over 700 miles, I really liked the A3. So much so, I had my picture taken with it.
The clutch in the GTI was really light, in fact, I remember when I got back in my 328i after I got back to the US the clutch felt super heavy. Normally, I’m not a fan of really light clutches as it can be hard to find the bite point. I didn’t really find that to be the case, I felt like I was able to feel the bite point. Maybe it’s because I’ve been driving a manual car for the past 4.5 years or maybe it’s the car. I know last time I drove my friends Civic Si I didn’t really feel a bite point. Basically I said all of that to say that this would be more livable in traffic than either of my cars. Sitting in heavy traffic in either of my cars can be antagonizing, but this still had the feel with the lightness.
I also did find myself short shifting. I have a propensity to get to the highest gear possible as fast as I can. This isn’t really ever a problem in the M3 as the V8 has enough torque so I can be doing 45 in sixth and mash it and still make it move without having to change gear. There was a time that I probably should have left it in first for just an extra second or two, the engine started to bog down when I changed into second.
There is a short twisty roads near the dealers in Greenville, so that’s where I took the GTI. I didn’t really push it hard, I didn’t want to either crash it or scare the salesman. Steering felt communicative, not as much as in my BMWs with hydraulic steering. I will say it was a little strange to drive a car with a red line at only 6k. I did rev it out and it does pull hard, only thing I learned was that my V8 with an 8300 RPM red line has spoiled me. I would have to drive them back to back to really tell, but it felt slightly faster than my 328i.
I didn’t really poke about the interior, but it seemed to be well equipped. Believe it had Apple car play, as asinine as you might think this is, one reason I would get a newer car is to get car play. It also had heated seats, even if they weren’t full electric, but I think they were leather.
Would not have specced it like that, I would prefer the plaid cloth. Even if it is a well known thing, I still find the gear knob shaped like a golf ball to humorous.
I also quite like the color, then again I should. I would like it more if it was a darker green, but I’m happy that VW at least offers a green.
If I was serious about ditching the 3, this would be on my short list for sure. I like the fact that it’s manual and green; I don’t care if the DSG is “better” I don’t want one.