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irish44j
irish44j MegaDork
9/30/18 8:04 p.m.

EDIT: Additional comments and updates farther down in the thread.

So I finally got tired of getting nickel-and-dimed by my 10-year-old 170,000 mile WRX. It was a fun car, fairly heavily modded, and it was a blast to own. But I'm 42, and I commute 25 miles to work, and we don't get much winter weather around here these days, and I was getting a bit tired of having a worn/stiff suspension (Bilstein Racecomp Cup) and recurring emissions codes. So with my emissions inspection due at the end of this month, and dealers full of outgoing 2018 models chopped down in price, it was time to make a move.

My requirements narrowed my choices down pretty well: no drive-wheel preference, but had to get around 30mpg commuting (the WRX averaged 23 on premium....), had to have LSD (if FWD/RWD), and since I have enough project cars and don't want to work on my DD it had to have either a good CPO or new-car warranty. Also had to have a manual transmission and sporty road manners. Oh, and it had to be around $25k (if new) or less if used. I have cars for motorsport, so no need for the car to be set up for track or autocross or anything else. Just something that is fun to drive in stock(ish) form.

I ruled out BMWs just due to cost and ones in my range being out of warranty. I'd love a 2-series, but just not practical for my needs. The Civic Si was high on the list but didn't love the interior design (or the exterior look), and there are basically zero 2018s sitting on lots around here at this point. It was fun to drive, but didn't love it. The Elantra GT was a great deal with a great warranty, but with no LSD available, it got crossed off the list. WRXs are still in the low-30s and still get crappy MPGs, so as much as I thought about it, I couldn't figure out a reason to get another one. In the end, the GTI checked the boxes (and the GRM article the week I started to look helped matters). 

So, picked up a 2018 GTI SE in night blue metallic on Monday and drove my regular commute all week and some fun road this weekend. So here are my initial thoughts (picture with my new wheels)

(and with my new wheels)

1. Cost/warranty: VW upped their warranty to 6 years/72k limited and powertrain. I don't totally trust VW reliability, but that gives me peace of mind. I paid $26k out the door (taxes, tags, fees, etc etc), which is $2k less than I paid for my WRX a decade ago. I consider it to be a pretty great price for what I got.

2. Engine: Well, no boxer rumble and man is it quiet. I keep finding myself in 3rd going 55mph since I can hardly hear the engine. It has piped-in engine noise that you can "turn to sport mode" which just makes it a bit louder when on the gas. But nary a turbo noise, it sounds like a regular econocar, except it goes a lot quicker. Other than that, it revs nicely and boost comes on almost instantly - no lag like the WRX has. Oddly, for being a 2.0 it has way more oomph oof-boost than my 2.5 WRX did. It doesn't *feel* particularly powerful, but when pushed it really gets up to speed quickly - I'd say it's actually a bit quicker in the mid-gears than the WRX was, even though that car was tuned to over 300hp.... I could go for a bit more exhaust note, but the car comes wiht full stainless exhaust so not even gonna bother. 

3. Transmission: Aside from the semi-annoying shift knob, it is amazingly smooth shifting (though still trying to remember there's a 6th gear). Clutch is light but not too light. 

4. Brakes: The SE and Autbahn have the same brakes as the Golf R, and they are HUGE and really excellent. I coudl use a bit better modulation but in sheer stopping power they destroy the 4-pots on my WRX, even with stock pads. 

5. LSD: It has it. It's electronically-controlled but in some rainstorms I pushed it out of corners and it hooked up well.  Happy I got the SE with LSD. Steering: it's electric steering and you can change the mode to get lighter or heavier feel. I like the sport-mode steering, and the shape of the wheel - though I don't love the super-smooth leather (or pleather) wrap on it, which doesn't provide very good grip.

6. Lights: LED lights everywhere. Headlights, taillights, interior stuff. I love the lighting in every respect. The interior lighting is crisp and the right levels. The headlights are absolutely amazing on a dark night. They blow away anything I've ever driven, including the much-ballyhooed TSX.  It has nifty LCD red strips on the doorsills and doors which are neat, and all the gauges, switches, etc have good lighting.

7. Interior: I got the cloth (with the plaid, which has totally grown on me). I don't love leather interiors and wanted a seat that felt as close to the WRX as possible, which had great seats. These are a bit firmer, but arguably more supportive and better-bolstered. And definitely with more adjustments. My only issue is my right knee hits the center stack (had the same issue on our Mazda3 years ago), which is kind of annoying but I'm learnign to adjust my seat position to accommodate. Pedals are perfectly-spaced, switchgear is in the right place, intuitive, and has a quality feel to it (unlike the VW-sourced stuff in my old Porsche!). Mine came with both regular floormats and all-weather floormats, which are really nice, including a trunk liner.  The center console is pretty tiny compared to the WRX, but does adjust to about 5 different heights for your right elbow, which is nice. Dash is soft-touch materials and looks nice, as well as the tops of the doors. Stuff below that is mostly hard plastic, but it looks classier than the all-hard-plastic in the WRX for sure. 

8. Electronics: still learning all the stuff the touch-screen display system can do, but it links up great with Android Auto and is easy as hell to use (I'm not a huge electronics guy), so phone, text, pandora, google maps, etc are all automatically there any time I get in the car, and can all be voice-activated. Overall it works well and is simple/intuitive, but there are a few annoying things about it that I'll have to get used to - mostly just button positioning or too many "notifications" of stuff. The USB and AUX ports in the little pocket below is a total pain to get plugged in unless you have small fingers, so that's a bit annoying. I got the regular sound system, and it sounds pretty good for a stock system but nothing special. There are also two power ports (i.e. cigarette lighter without the lighter) between the seats. Cupholders are great, and hold any kind of cup/bottle easily and firmly. Door pockets are huge. I did find it funny that with all this electronic stuff, the car has a traditional rearview mirror. My 15-year old truck has auto-dimming. Not that I really care, just found it amusing. 

10. Sunroof is pretty cool (tilt up, and opens above the roof all the way back. It has a mesh screen thing that you can keep closed even when the roof is open to shade from the sun. The sunroof controls are not the greatest but whatever. 

11. Wheels/tires: I'll be honest, I hate the Dallas wheels that it came with. In fact, while shopping I was already browsing for something else. Those wheels are simply cheesy in my opinion and it drives me crazy that they are directional - but going opposite directions on each side of the car. The GTIs on the lot had 3 different tires on them: a mediocre Bridgestone (I forget which), Pirelli Sotto p7 (yuck, it's a grand-touring tire, not even a performance A/S), and mine had Hankook Noble S1, which seemed decent in the dry, ok in wet, and I hear they're awful in winter weather. Also for some reason even on a 7.5" wheel the 225/40s seemed too small - both in sidewall height and in width, like they were stretched. 

So I sold them (took 2 hours!) for almost $1000. And spent the money on some repro VW Interlagos (CC wheels) that have a more adult look to them and a bit more flush offset (and 8" wide), and some 225/45 BFG Comp 2 A/S, which I've really liked on the Porsche since they have winter ability and feel like a performance summer tire in the dry. Plus they have a beefier-looking tread. So even on a wider wheel, they just appear to "fit" better. Anyhow, the wheels are not super-fancy, but I like adulty/low-key for my DD so they work for me. The 5% higher sidewall really fills out the wheel wells better (since I don't plan to lower this car). 

This car doesn't use in-wheel TPMS, but uses the ABS to figure out when a tire is flat. Which is nice, frankly. When yo uchange tires or want to use a non-stock pressure, you can reset the default right on the dash display. 

12. MPGs. On my commute, for a decade, the WRX averaged 23.4-23.7 mpg consistently in mixed city/highway driving. In the first week with the GTI, driving the same speeds, same style,it returned 32.1 mpgs (calculated at the pump - the trip computer said 31.7). With the slightly larger tires on it now it will read 3% high, but that's negligible. The car can run on regular or super, so I'll probably do a few tanks of each to see how it effects performance and MPGs. 

13. Looks: I'm adding some mudflaps, and some tint, and that's about it. I think with the new wheels the car looks pretty nice. I'm not totally in love with the whole "GTI stigma" but then again, I did the "WRX stigma" for a decade so.......I think the car looks fairly nice if not exciting, and that's fine with me. I like blending into traffic and not getting tickets (in 170k miles I never got pulled over in a tuned WRX with exhaust!!)

Anyhow, that's my take. I like the car a lot so far. Not a raw or rowdy or athletic as the WRX was, but in terms of feel/quality/manners it blows the WRX away. 

Ransom
Ransom GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
9/30/18 8:14 p.m.

Nice! Two friends of mine have just bought GTIs, though I believe they both went DSG (one of them out of more-or-less necessity). They seem very stoked, though neither of them is as automotive-marinated as you.

I'm a bit jealous of all three of you.

Unnecessary edit-for-correctness; friends got one DSG, one six-speed.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
9/30/18 8:21 p.m.

The DSG model is probably quicker, and I drove one and it's really a great transmission. But I just have to have three pedals, because I like it and I fear when I go looking for my next car after this it may be hard to find....

Other parting thought: VW really should put this drivetrain/LSD into the Golf Sportwagon and the Alltrak. If they did, I've have paid more to get that. The wagon felt pretty slow and lame to me when I drove it, which made me sad since I love wagons.....

bmw88rider
bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/30/18 8:42 p.m.

Glad you love it. If you could have gotten the 4Motion in the regular GTI and not the R, I would have gotten that instead.

I got the Sportwagen with 4motion instead. Agree that the 1.8L is not as snappy as the GTI but I love the MPG and that it uses regular gas. I live above 7K Ft now and commute 35 miles to work so I wanted the no brainer option. 

 

Glad you like it though. I thought long and hard about getting one myself. I ended up with the 7K cheaper option and the 4motion. 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
9/30/18 8:43 p.m.

That's a nice car - I like the color - subtle looking.  Hopefully it is a blast to drive.

I miss a stick shift car - I bought a 2011 Accord 5-speed new and after 75,000 miles the wife asked me if I was tired of shifting gears and the answer was no.  At 155,000 miles I sold it and was still happy with shifting gears.  Now I have a truck that makes my sales job easier and think about stick shift all the time.  

Enjoy your car.  

 

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
9/30/18 8:47 p.m.
bmw88rider said:

Glad you love it. If you could have gotten the 4Motion in the regular GTI and not the R, I would have gotten that instead.

I got the Sportwagen with 4motion instead. Agree that the 1.8L is not as snappy as the GTI but I love the MPG and that it uses regular gas. I live above 7K Ft now and commute 35 miles to work so I wanted the no brainer option. 

 

Glad you like it though. I thought long and hard about getting one myself. I ended up with the 7K cheaper option and the 4motion. 

It kind of came down to the fact that I really don't need AWD. The Subaru was awesome to have on the occasional snow days we get, but in reality we really don't get enough snow here to stop a FWD (or RWD) car with appropriate tires. Plus I have a 4x4 and my wife has an AWD CX-9. The MPG hit of having an AWD performance car just wasn't worth it to me. Yeah, the sportwagon may have been more of an option if I needed the utility space. I like wagons because they're cool, but I definitely don't need the cargo space in my DD> Hell, I don't really even need a back seat :)

 

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
9/30/18 8:49 p.m.
Datsun310Guy said:

That's a nice car - I like the color - subtle looking.  Hopefully it is a blast to drive.

I miss a stick shift car - I bought a 2011 Accord 5-speed new and after 75,000 miles the wife asked me if I was tired of shifting gears and the answer was no.  At 155,000 miles I sold it and was still happy with shifting gears.  Now I have a truck that makes my sales job easier and think about stick shift all the time.  

Enjoy your car.  

 

In truth, I wanted another black car....since that's what I've had for going on 20 years now as DD. But the black ones locally with identical options/features were going for about $2k more. And for $2k savings, I like the blue better than black :)

My wife is also pissed because when we bought her the CX-9 she wanted one in dark blue but we couldn't find one at the time. And now I have the color she wanted lol...

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
9/30/18 8:59 p.m.

Also you made the right choice on those wheels - the new ones are way better than those razor wheels.  Good job on the wheels.  

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
9/30/18 9:12 p.m.
Datsun310Guy said:

Also you made the right choice on those wheels - the new ones are way better than those razor wheels.  Good job on the wheels.  

I'm hoping the wheel and tire choice will keep me from being mistaken as a sterotypical GTI driver, lol....Heck, the STi next to me at a stoplight today didn't even feel obliged to stomp my on green. Probably thought I was just in a regular Golf :)

Slippery
Slippery GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
9/30/18 11:04 p.m.

Love the car. I commented on you instagram feed regarding the red stripe in the lights, pretty cool. 

I had a 16v ‘87 GTI in that same color and remember the red stripe running through the dash. 

One of these might be my next car. The two doors on my e46 is not cutting it anymore with three kids. 

docwyte
docwyte UltraDork
10/1/18 8:25 a.m.

GTi's are nice cars, I really like those new wheels on yours.  I'll be picking up a Golf R in about 2 years, I'm hearing rumblings of the Mk8 R having 400hp.  Hopefully they still have a 6MT with it as all I've read only mentions the DSG. 

I don't have much of a commute so a 6MT is preferable but traffic is getting worse and worse, so I could live with a DSG I suppose.  I really want that 6 year warranty and having 400hp stock out of the gate is pretty attractive.

Since I live in Denver I do want to have awd on my DD/ski car, so the R is the way to go for me...

spacecadet
spacecadet GRM+ Memberand Reader
10/1/18 10:53 a.m.

Congrats on the new ride man! they're awesome cars! 

iceracer
iceracer UltimaDork
10/1/18 11:25 a.m.

In reply to irish44j :

Pretty much my thoughts on my FiST.

Fun thing is most think it is a ordinary Fiesta until I prove them wrong.

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
10/1/18 1:41 p.m.

Looks like you did right by your own criteria and are reaping the rewards. I like your wheel/tire choice and agree that it looks right even without lowering. Those words do not pass my lips easily!! 

Congrats!

sleepyhead
sleepyhead Dork
10/1/18 2:39 p.m.

dunno if they'd fit... but could you use a set of "Detroits" off a 2012 GTI for snows?  They'd be local to you, and probably free/cheap for the taking... although getting to them might be... interesting

Dave M
Dave M New Reader
10/1/18 2:59 p.m.

Nice car!

With this and the WRX, you have definitely earned your flat-brim hat, tattoos and vape pen BRO!

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
10/1/18 3:43 p.m.
Vigo said:

Looks like you did right by your own criteria and are reaping the rewards. I like your wheel/tire choice and agree that it looks right even without lowering. Those words do not pass my lips easily!! 

Congrats!

of course, as luck would have it one of my tires (from Tire Rack) is out of round (and yes, checked both wheel and tire with a runout gauge). So to get it swapped TR requires I get a printout from a Hunter roadforce machine showing it out of round. Which I guess is reasonable, but I've spent about $10k over the years at TR and never returned anything lol......I was hoping they'd take my word on it. With a shorter wheelbase car like this you can definitely feel things out of round/out of balance.

I also discovered that those wheels apparently make a very low whirring noise from the wind at 70mph+. I'm so used to loud cars, i would never even notice it on my other cars. But this car is so silent otherwise, faint noises seem annoying lol....I'm hoping once I put some Rally Armors on the car, it'll break up the airflow to the rear wheels enough to mitigate the noise.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
10/1/18 3:47 p.m.
sleepyhead said:

dunno if they'd fit... but could you use a set of "Detroits" off a 2012 GTI for snows?  They'd be local to you, and probably free/cheap for the taking... although getting to them might be... interesting

I'll probably forego getting snows this year, since it hasn't snowed here much in a while (and not having the tires will guarantee good snow!). I've always run a winter/summer dedicated set, but since I have a car payment now (well, two...) figured I'd just go with all-seasons and when these wear out I'll go back to my usual two sets of wheels/tires. If we get snow, I have the Sequoia and my wife has an AWD CX-9 (plus the rally car has two full sets of snow tires!), so not really too concerned.

Not sure if the Detroits fit (17", right?). The sport brakes on this are huge and don't even have that much clearance on the 18s. I've heard that only "certain" 17s will clear. 

So where do you have them stashed that makes it so interesting? ;) If they fit, I may very well be interested nonetheless. 

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
10/1/18 3:48 p.m.
Dave M said:

Nice car!

With this and the WRX, you have definitely earned your flat-brim hat, tattoos and vape pen BRO!

which is funny, since all my hats are decidedly bent-brim, I have no ink, and I (occasionally) only smoke actual cigarettes :)

Vigo
Vigo UltimaDork
10/1/18 9:05 p.m.

Which I guess is reasonable, but I've spent about $10k over the years at TR and never returned anything lol......I was hoping they'd take my word on it. 

I think it's fair to point that out to them. I don't even do tires for a living per se but I teach tire machines in the vocational program i teach for and in my experience I can't even say it's 'rare' to find tires with serious runout and/or road force issues straight out of the factory. I know it's pretty much standard operating procedure when dealing with warranty claims to first just punt hoping you'll give up and go away, but as an enthusiast I'd like to think TR would handle a long-time customer slightly better, especially in the modern day when you can just snap a vid of a spinning wheel/tire where the wheel visibly doesn't move and the tire visibly does. If you can see it on a spinning tire it's probably 40 thousandths plus.

irish44j
irish44j UltimaDork
10/1/18 9:22 p.m.
Vigo said:

Which I guess is reasonable, but I've spent about $10k over the years at TR and never returned anything lol......I was hoping they'd take my word on it. 

I think it's fair to point that out to them. I don't even do tires for a living per se but I teach tire machines in the vocational program i teach for and in my experience I can't even say it's 'rare' to find tires with serious runout and/or road force issues straight out of the factory. I know it's pretty much standard operating procedure when dealing with warranty claims to first just punt hoping you'll give up and go away, but as an enthusiast I'd like to think TR would handle a long-time customer slightly better, especially in the modern day when you can just snap a vid of a spinning wheel/tire where the wheel visibly doesn't move and the tire visibly does. If you can see it on a spinning tire it's probably 40 thousandths plus.

you know, it didn't even occur to me to shoot some video to show them. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow and see if they'll do anything since it's definitely visible. 

Dave M
Dave M New Reader
10/2/18 5:58 a.m.
irish44j said:
Dave M said:

Nice car!

With this and the WRX, you have definitely earned your flat-brim hat, tattoos and vape pen BRO!

which is funny, since all my hats are decidedly bent-brim, I have no ink, and I (occasionally) only smoke actual cigarettes :)

In all seriousness, the other owners were a really annoying part of owning a WRX. Hopefully with a GTI you can avoid the VEE DUB crowd! The Golf Rs seem to attract them...

sleepyhead
sleepyhead Dork
10/2/18 6:20 a.m.
irish44j said:
sleepyhead said:

dunno if they'd fit... but could you use a set of "Detroits" off a 2012 GTI for snows?  They'd be local to you, and probably free/cheap for the taking... although getting to them might be... interesting

Not sure if the Detroits fit (17", right?). The sport brakes on this are huge and don't even have that much clearance on the 18s. I've heard that only "certain" 17s will clear. 

So where do you have them stashed that makes it so interesting? ;) If they fit, I may very well be interested nonetheless. 

They're actually my dad's.  I got him onto some dedicated winters on a -1 setup, and he's never swapped back because he likes the feel of the lighter wheels.

The challenge is... they're in the middle of a remodel, and wheels/tires are probably in the back far-corner of the garage/shop.  So, there'd be some work to get to it.

red_stapler
red_stapler Dork
10/2/18 8:01 a.m.

The Detroit wheels are 18” and otherwise dimensionally the same as ones on a new GTI.

sevenracer
sevenracer Reader
10/2/18 2:31 p.m.

 

Congrats, I had the 2010 version of that car.  Same dark blue metallic, 6spd, tartan seats.  Loved that car.

BTW, my car came with the standard 17" wheel option, that looked just like detroit wheels, but they were all silver, the coves were not blacked out.  So double check that if you are shopping a second set of wheels.

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