2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Long Term Update 1
People, stuff, and about that DSG …
A month or so after we took delivery of the GTI, the holiday season hit, bringing with it a barrage of family and friends along with lots and lots of shopping. Among this year's visitors were my folks, who stayed with my wife and me for a few days over Thanksgiving. Being an out-of-towner, my dad thought a trip down to the old mission town of San Juan Capistrano might be fun, so Mom and Dad, my brother, my wife, and I all piled into the GTI and set off down the freeway, due south.
The trip took a bit under 2 hours each way, and even a spacious compact car like the GTI is no S-Class (or even E-Class) Benz, but still the little VW was able to shuttle five adults (including two more than 6 feet tall) in tolerable comfort. I even did a stint in the rear seat just to see for myself. More impressive is that the fully loaded ride was perfectly acceptable, with no bottoming out over larger dips, and there was no lack of grunt during freeway merging. The rear vents showed their utility, keeping three slightly compressed people cool.
Weeks later, the GTI's utility showed itself again as I arrived at a warehouse to pick up my latest Craigslist find: a Fiat dealer showroom sign from 1980. The sign had been languishing in its shipping box in the back storage area at a local auto leasing business for the past 30-odd years, and I figured it would rather be hanging in my garage, above my '79 124 Spider and '67 850 Coupe. After I got out of my car, the kind lady who posted the ad asked me how I was going to transport my purchase home. "It's not going to fit in there," she said, nodding toward my red VW.
Turns out the Craigslist photo was deceiving in terms of scale; what appeared to be a 3-foot-long sign on my computer screen was actually a 6-foot-long sign in a 6-by-2-by-2-foot box. After much head-scratching, tape measure wielding, and blank-eyed staring, I lowered the rear seat, folded the front passenger seat forward and downward, and removed its headrest. Five minutes later the sign was in, box and all, and the rear hatch was closed with nary an inch to spare. I was impressed, but the seller was beside herself with disbelief. "What kind of car is this again?" she asked.
The GTI has proven itself to be a capable commuter even when it's not stuffed to its wheelwells with people or stuff. Many web commenters have made their displeasure known about our choice to order the GTI with a DSG dual-clutch gearbox instead of the manual. To that, I'll say this: I've driven manual GTIs, and yes, they're more fun to drive than the DSG version. But (and this is a major but) my daily round-trip commute is 32 miles. With Southern California rush hour traffic, I'm spending 2 hours in my car every day. Stopping and starting, stopping and starting. I've spent plenty of time in manual-equipped cars for this commute (including a year in our long-term Subaru BRZ), but there's just no way around the fact that an automated transmission is a better proposition for me as a daily driver. After all, I have two manual-equipped weekend toys in my garage. Consider that VW's paddle-shift DSG is actually pretty sporty when I want it to be, and I'd say it's a win-win.
Read more on our long-term Volkswagen Golf GTI here: