The sporty little Volkswagen GTI compact has been around since the early '80s and has managed to retain the same characteristically boxy design. Though not particularly attractive, the GTI is nimble and quick and has a unique sort of charm associated with its cube like shape, earning a nick name of the 'pocket rocket'.
There have been several generations of the frisky Volkswagen and model year improvements are more often found under the hood while the exterior and interior remained practical and somewhat minimalist. Originally offered as a three door hatchback with a 1.8 liter engine, this car has been an affordable and fuel efficient vehicle that truly is fun to drive.
A significantly redesigned GTI was introduced for the 1995 model year, after production had ceased for two years. The lightweight, front wheel drive 1995 GTI arrived with a 2.8 liter V6 engine that delivered a respectable 172 horsepower and a sport tuned suspension that rivaled that of more expensive sport cars. Interior space was deceptively roomy from the outside and easily seated four adults. Standard equipment was increased to include a sunroof, sport seats and a premium stereo system with eight speakers. Standard safety and security features included airbags, an excellent traction control system and height adjustable front seatbelts. In 1996, Volkswagen offered two GTI models and engines-a spunky 2.0 liter inline 4 cylinder and a 2.8 liter V6. Both the base model and the VR6 were equipped with enticing and convenient features such as premium cloth upholstery, a locking glove compartment and a warning tone to remind the driver if headlights are accidentally left on when the car is not running. Adding to the distinctive style, new, bright exterior colors were introduced that included Bright Surf Green and Catalina Blue.
The fifth generation of Volkswagen GTI was introduced for the 2006 model year. The convenient hatchback style was available with either two or four passenger doors. Engine selections were either a 1.8 liter turbo charged 4 cylinder or a turbo charged 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine. Standard features were also increased to include sporty 17 inch wheels and high performance tires, a rear spoiler, power accessories and a tilt steering wheel. Additional options included a sunroof, heated leather upholstery, dual zone climate control and a navigation system. Although a six speed manual transmission was standard, a six speed Tiptronic/Direct Shift Gearbox transmission was also available as an option. The Direct Shift Gearbox permitted the driver to operate the vehicle in automatic mode or tap into the clutch-less manual mode to shift gears by using the steering wheel mounted paddle controls. After the comprehensive 2006 overhaul, changes were few for the 2007 model year. Inspiring confidence behind the wheel and being a delight to drive, the Volkswagen GTI is a tempting, affordable and agile hatchback that continues to satisfy.