What Changed for 2009:
- New optional 18-inch alloy wheel package
- New-and-improved navigation system
- Cold weather package is now standard
- New GTI Autobahn package
The first Volkswagen GTI debuted in 1983. Based on the Volkswagen Rabbit, the GTI was modified with a more powerful fuel-injected engine, stiffened suspension and larger tires. The car was a success with the public, and the GTI remains credited with originating the \"hot hatch\" craze that continues even today. The latest iteration of the GTI, based on Volkswagen's new \"A5\" platform, made its debut in 2006 in 2-door form; a 4-door version joined the lineup in 2007. In 2008, Volkswagen lowered the GTI's suspension by about two-thirds of an inch, giving the car an even sportier look. For 2009, the German automaker has only made minor changes to the GTI.
Both 2- and 4-door versions of the 2009 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, 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 2009, Volkswagen has improved the \"RNS510\" navigation system with a 6.5-inch high-resolution screen, integrated 30-gigabyte hard drive, and video DVD playback. The cold weather package is now standard, and the \"Top Sport\" leather is available with the GTI Autobahn package.
The 2009 GTI is powered by Volkswagen's 2.0-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with FSI direct fuel injection. All models are front-wheel drive. 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; 2009 EPA fuel-economy estimates are 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway with the manual transmission, 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the DSG transmission.
All GTI models are equipped with independent MacPherson strut front suspension and 4-link rear suspension. Disc brakes are standard, as is anti-lock (ABS) control. The standard wheels are 17-inch aluminum alloy with 18-inch wheels optional.
All 2009 Volkswagen 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 Volkswagen 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, and then uses the clutch to switch between gearboxes for a near-instant gear change, according to Volkswagen. 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 transmission, Volkswagen says.