Start Your Engines

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Hank Larsen, Staff Writer

Volkswagen has always been known for style, safety and a fun reputation. But what about performance and turbochargers and all that good stuff? This is why the addition of the Volkswagen GTI in 1983 paved the road (no pun intended) for a world of hot hatches.

Standing for “Grand Touring Injection,” the GTI is based off the popular Golf hatchback. The GTI is anything but sluggish, powered by a 2.0 liter turbocharged inline-four making 200 horsepower. This may explain why some think GTI really stands for “Gets Tickets Instantly” or “Gotz Turboz Inside.”

Though 200 horsepower may not sound like a whole lot, this is more than enough for a car weighing in at just over 3100 pounds. With its wide-set wheelbase and low ground clearance, the GTI hugs the road even in the curviest of turns.

Junior Miles McCaulou is a proud owner of a 2012 GTI, bought brand new in January of this year. It’s easy to see how McCaulou made the purchase; the GTI  boasts affordability and fuel economy while managing impressive performance for its class.

“Long story short I fell in love with the car after a test drive, thinking I wouldn’t like it,” McCaulou said. “Turns out I did, so I gathered up enough money for one.” A speed demon on a budget, the GTI is a dream car for any car lover young or old.

The six-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) dual-clutch automatic poses almost instant shifts, but any true aficionado would take the six-speed manual with short throws and direct control over the vehicle. The GTI is the perfect size and weight to nonetheless thrive with a stick.

Too many cars are being taken over by automatics, so it’s good to see people still care for the manuals. With McCaulou’s license plate reading “SAVSTIK,”  it’s clear he’s in favor.

“I will have the car a year this Jan. 1 and I love every moment in it,” McCaulou said. “It’s impossible to drive it without having fun.” McCaulou treats his car like a baby and never lets it look or perform less than perfection.

The GTI is both a practical daily driver and a speed demon. “The car not only gets wonderful gas mileage,” McCaulou said. “But it is outstanding in performance and it looks exceptionally beautiful.”

“Although owning a new car is more expensive,” McCaulou said. “The car is that much more enjoyable because of exceptional sound quality, performance and looks.”

McCaulou shows how having such a legendary car as a GTI makes him proud not just for its performance numbers, but for how it will be remembered in automotive history forever.

“Driving my car has become a fun pastime and I spend lots of time caring for the exterior as well as the interior,” McCaulou said. “I have spent many turbo-induced miles in the GTI and look forward to having hundreds of thousands more.”