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2009 Volkswagen GTI Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Volkswagen GTI was new.


Performance: 8.9

There's general agreement that the Volkswagen GTI is an impressive performer. Most reviewers give praise to the car's turbocharged four-cylinder engine and smooth transmissions for providing a great driving experience.

  • "Serious driving-enthusiast appeal." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The GTI will make you feel good about turning and braking as well as going straight." -- Motor Trend
  • "VW's robust 2.0-liter turbo four provides ample thrust, driving the front wheels through a six-speed manual (standard) or, our choice, the slick paddle-shifted dual-clutch DSG automated manual. But it's the GTI's rigid unibody that makes it such an agreeable partner, whether it's the daily commute or a weekend back-road blast." -- Car and Driver
  • "Simply fun to drive." -- Road and Track
  • "It might roll more and grip less than higher-strung competitors, but those who must commute as well as carve canyons will appreciate the GTI's impressive combination of responsive handling and everyday livability." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

VW doesn't offer a lot of powertrain configurations with its GTI, instead choosing to perfect the one turbocharged four-cylinder available. With 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, test drivers determine the GTI has plenty of power and very little turbo lag. The GTI's standard transmission is a slick-shifting six-speed manual, according to Kelley Blue Book, but there's an optional DSG automatic transmission. The EPA rates the 2009 GTI at 21/31 mpg city/highway with the manual transmission, and 22/29 mpg using the automatic.

  • "The 2009 Volkswagen GTI has one of the throatiest factory exhaust notes we can remember in a four-cylinder sport compact. It definitely talks the talk, and happily, the widely praised 2.0T engine walks the walk, boasting excellent low-end torque and smooth power delivery." -- Edmunds
  • "Despite some low-speed turbo lag, GTIs have quick acceleration and impressive highway passing punch. The manual transmission shifts with exemplary precision, but some testers would like shorter throws. The automatic shifts smoothly in automatic or manual mode." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In stop-and-go traffic it's a smooth-shifting automatic transmission...on your favorite road or track it's a quick shifting, no-pedal manual." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "When it comes time to move a vehicle down the road, torque is your friend. And turbocharging, correctly applied as it is in the GTI, makes for excellent torque characteristics." -- The Auto Channel

Handling and Braking

Most reviewers find the GTI's handling a nimble compliment to its substantial power. Steering is also widely praised as precise, responsive and well-engineered. The brakes are found to be strong.

  • "Among the best-handling front-wheel drive cars. All have outstanding grip in fast turns with quick, precise steering. The brakes deliver worry-free stops." -- Consumer Guide
  • "In general, the GTI imparts a feeling of solidity through its suspension and controls that one rarely finds in this segment." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2009 Volkswagen GTI drives as true to the original as a 3,300-pound, turbocharged car can be expected. It's on the heavy side, but steering is razor-sharp and cornering grip is tenacious and flat." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "We're delighted in the GTI's quick and precise steering." -- New Car Test Drive

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