What Changed for 2008:
- Ride height lowered 15 mm
- Standard Sirius satellite radio
- Automatic climate control no longer available
Volkwagen introduced the first GTI in America in 1983. A modified Rabbit with a fuel-injected engine and stiffened suspension, the GTI was the original \"hot hatch\" and the car that kicked off the sport-compact craze, according to VW. The latest iteration of the GTI, based on VW's new \"A5\" platform, made its debut in 2006 in 2-door form; a 4-door version joined the lineup in 2007. For 2008, Volkswagen has lowered the GTI's suspension by about two-thirds of an inch, giving the car an even sportier look.
Both 2- and 4-door versions of the 2008 Volkswagen GTI come in a single trim level with power windows, locks and mirrors; remote keyless entry; trip computer; 10-speaker stereo with 6-disc CD changer; Xenon headlights; alloy wheels; and cruise control. Options include summer tires, an iPod adapter, and a new Autobahn package, which bundles a sunroof; leather sport seats; leatherette door trim inserts; premium sound system; and heated washer nozzles. For 2008, the navigation system is only available as an add-on to the Autobahn package.
The 2008 GTI is powered by Volkswagen's 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with FSI direct fuel injection. Power output is 200 hp at 5100-6000 rpm and 207 lb.-ft. at 1800-5000 rpm. The GTI is offered with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) transmission, the latter offering both manual and automatic shifting modes; EPA fuel economy estimates are 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the manual transmission, 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the DSG transmission.
All 2008 Volkswgen GTIs come with dual front air bags; front-seat-mounted side air bags; two-row side curtain air bags; anti-lock brakes; and electronic stability control. Rear-seat-mounted side air bags are offered as an option on the 4-door GTI. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash-tested the 4-door GTI and awarded it 4 out of 5 stars for frontal crash protection and 5 stars for side impact; the rollover rating was 4 stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not crash-tested a GTI; however they did test the structurally-similar Jetta and awarded it their best-possible \"Good\" rating for both front and side impacts.
The DSG (a.k.a. twin-clutch transmission) is Volkswagen's answer to the high-performance automatic transmission. It is similar in theory to a sequential manual transmission (essentially a fully-automated manual transmission) but eliminates the lag between shifting by employing two separate 3-speed gearboxes linked by a clutch. Instead of shifting gears, the transmission pre-selects the next likely gear on the alternate gearbox, then uses the clutch to switch between gearboxes for a near-instant gear change. DSG allows for fully automatic operation or manual shifting via the gear selector or steering-wheel-mounted paddles, and because it uses a mechanical clutch rather than a hydraulic torque converter it does not suffer from power loss like a traditional automatic, Volkswagen says. DSG is the first transmission of its kind available in a production car, and several other automakers, including Mitsubishi and Nissan, will be launching their own twin-clutch gearboxes in the near future.