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LOVE AT FIRST DRIVE: 2022 VOLKSWAGEN GTI

I will be honest, I am a sucker when it comes to all sorts of romantic movies – RomComs, heck yes! Romantic Drama’s, who doesn’t love a good cry? Throw in a romantic thriller and I will bring the popcorn. Well, this is one of those stories…

From the moment the all-new Volkswagen GTI was getting dropped off at my office, it was immediate lust. Despite being in a color I would not personally choose, Kings Red Metallic, the GTI was tickling parts of me that only my doctor gets to do. Which is a shame then Volkswagen has killed off the cheaper, lower entry-level Golf Hatchback here in the United States, making the GTI almost the last of its kind before everything fun becomes electrified.

My subject for testing arrived in the most expensive form available, the $39,070 Autobahn and even though Volkswagen is keeping the spirit of driving alive with an available six-speed manual transmission on all three trim options, mine was equipped with a rather brilliantly engineered seven-speed dual clutch automatic. But do not let that suede you… this is one intoxicating, thrilling hatches to drive. Most of all, it carries that GTI heritage which means it remains to be a practical, livable, comfortable, spacious vehicle to live with every day while sustaining the driving thrill we have come to enjoy. 

Looking at the profile, we must take note that the overall size of the GTI has not change. Its all the bits underneath that have been dramatically improved. Volkswagen made numerous tweaks to the chassis and the suspension system. The electronically controlled limited-slip differential has been upgraded with new software. And the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine now churns out 241-horsepower and 273lbs-ft of torque. That is 13-more horsepower and 15lbs-ft of torque more than the previous generation GTI we tested in 2019. The beefed-up performance makes it one quick little demon child. This GTI is like a drug, it makes you want more, it makes you want to go faster and go harder; knowing deep down it can take the heat.

It is claimed that the GTI will get from 0-60 in about 5.0-seconds. I believe it. The seven-speed dual clutch transmission is incredibly quick and even more so engaging with using the steering wheel paddle shifters. It also comes equipped with launch control, should you want to make entertaining revs noises in between street lights. And when it comes to the ride quality, the re-tuned chassis really showcases how well refined the GTI is, the ride quality was better than suspected with our subjects 19-inch rims wrapped in summer rubber.

Inside, it is like we stepped into the gates of the Starship Enterprise. The interior setting is ultra-sleek with design cues taken straight out of a minimalism guidebook. It carries such a timeless design that we almost did not care about the hard plastic on the center console and doors. Even the gear shifter in the automatic feels cool to engages with a tactile presence. And because our example arrived in the Autobahn trim, the typical, standard plaid cloth seats were upgraded to leather with heated front & rear seats, ventilated front seats and a heads-up display.  

However, with all its sleekness, there is a drawback – the touch sensitive controls for instance on the steering wheel are a pain to use and navigate; but if some of you have been keeping up with the latest news from Volkswagen, they have heard these complaints and will be fixing the steering wheel issue with real buttons.

Sadly though, this story is not a romantic comedy, this is a drama that ended in heartbreak and tyranny. On what seemed like a typical Friday morning, with traffic consistently congested reminding me that I should work from home more often, I was involved in a hit and run sideswiped on an exit offramp by a lifted Jeep Wrangler that must have thought mirrors were there for esthetics. Unfortunately for my beloved, after spending less than 40-miles together, the GTI was in no shape to continue and had to be towed away.

Even though I only had the car for two days and less than 40-miles; the GTI did not have to prove its worthiness. All it took was just those 40-miles and the contouring sport front seats for me to fall head over heels for this hot hatch that I would gladly write a check for every month for the next 5-7 years depending on financing options.

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