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2000 Volkswagen GTI REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/6/2017

Con: Weak base engine, handling could be crisper, some controls hard to decipher, CD player should be standard.

Pro: Fun to drive, comfortable ride, hatchback utility, high-quality interior materials, lots of standard features, generous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Edmunds Say: Need a sport coupe for the real world? This is it.

What’s New: Volkswagen introduces the GLS Turbo model powered by the company's superb 150-horsepower 1.8T power plant to bridge the gap between the weak 115-hp inline four in the regular GLS and the potent VR6 available only in the pricey GLX model.

Review: Back in 1983, the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI stormed onto the scene and created a new market segment: the hopped-up econosport. These days, VW sells a performance version of its Golf hatchback as simply the GTI. Though softer than competitors like the Toyota Celica and the Acura Integra, the GTI is still a lot of fun on winding two-lane blacktop -- and it comes with premium interior furnishings and a generous list of standard features.

For 2000, Volkswagen has added the mid-range GLS Turbo model powered by an energetic turbo four -- previously seen in the Passat -- to bridge the gap between the GLS and the potent but costly GLX model. For those concerned about fuel economy and monthly payments, the base 115-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four returns under the hood of the entry-level GLS. You can choose either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic, though even with the engine's meager output, fuel economy is nothing to write home about (24 mpg city/31 mpg with the manual highway versus 22/28 with the auto).

We expect that most buyers will instead choose the GLS Turbo model, which comes with a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four worthy of 150 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque from 1,950 to 4,500 rpm. Again, buyers may choose either a manual or automatic (fuel economy ratings are identical to those of the base four-cylinder). Despite a small amount of turbo lag early on, the 1.8T generally feels faster than it is thanks to its long, flat torque band and calm demeanor. However, some enthusiasts may not like the idea of owning a sport coupe with 0-60 mph times in the mid-8s. If that's you, save your money for the top-of-the-line GLX -- it gives you the spreadably smooth 2.8-liter VR6, a compact, narrow-angle V6 (sized to fit into the GTI's engine bay) that generates 174 hp and 181 lb-ft of torque. You can only get a five-speed manual on the GLX.

All GTIs come with a long list of standard features. Both the GLS and GLS Turbo include four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD); traction control; side-impact airbags for front passengers; height-adjustable sport seats; tilt and telescope adjustment for the steering wheel; cruise control; one-touch up-and-down windows all-around; heated side mirrors; a moonroof; an alarm system and a full-size spare tire. An eight-speaker stereo with cassette player is also standard, but you'll have to bargain with your local dealer to get a CD player or changer. Other options include leather upholstery, seat heaters and a premium Monsoon sound system. Fifteen-inch alloy wheels and mild-mannered 195/65 tires are standard on these models, so you might consider upgrading the wheels and tires if you plan on doing serious driving in your GLS Turbo.

Step up to the GLX, and you'll get all of the above, except the CD player and changer, which remain dealer-installed options. GLX exclusives include 16-inch wheels and 205/55 tires; automatic climate control; a self-dimming rearview mirror; rain-sensing wipers, a trip computer and real wood trim. To allay reliability concerns, Volkswagen backs all GTIs with a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty, though the short 2-year/24,000-mile basic warranty could certainly stand improvement.

All GTIs ride on a sport-tuned version of the VW Golf's MacPherson strut front/torsion-beam rear suspension layout (the GLX model gets gas-pressurized shock absorbers in rear). When pushed hard around the turns, the GTI doesn't feel as glued to the road as other sport coupes, and it doesn't respond as quickly to steering input, either. However, for overall enjoyment day-in and day-out, the GTI's combination of ride and handling is hard to beat.

Inside the GTI, the instrument panel is stylish yet functional, and the dark wood trim in the GLX model blends well with the high-quality fit and finish of the soft-textured surfaces. The analog gauges are backlit in blue with vibrant red pointers; Volkswagen wanted this combination to be marque-specific, noting that they are the same colors used by international air traffic on airfields at night. Seats are firm and supportive, and owners will have 18 cubic feet of cargo space at their disposal, even with the rear seats in use. If you need more space, you can fold down the 60/40-split rear bench to create a flat load floor.

Behind the wheel of the GTI, whether swayed by value, performance or creature comforts, drivers will be racing to start their engines.

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