Three Months Later and I’m Still Giggling

The GTI is now three months old and so far hasn’t been damaged or impounded.  I feel a big congratulations is in order as that’s a serious accomplishment with this car.

She is an evil temptress that goads you into pushing the accelerator further and further into the carpet, while rewarding you with rapidly approaching obstacles and an amazing exhaust note.  I’ve never driven anything that makes me smile so much, and I still pinch myself every time I remember that she’s all mine.

Highlights so far?  Well, the steering is a peach: you always know exactly what’s happening under your bum, providing you with complete confidence in its precise handling.  This is what I expected from VW and they certainly delivered.  Getting out of the Jetta I had rented and back into my GTI really put into perspective the special feeling that this car bestows upon the driver.

The trick DSG gearbox is simply the best thing since freshly cleaned bed sheets.  The manual mode allows me to change gears and engine brake with slick flappy paddles.  Truth be told I prefer shifting with the gear selector as it feels more natural.  The special Sport mode does nothing but idle the engine at 3,000rpm, but this isn’t a criticism, as at that rpm the engine is in what I call “haul ass mode” and great for overtaking. 

Still, my favorite setting is plain old Drive.  I have the freedom to put the hammer down and really get up to speed quickly, or I can potter around like a little tank engine in such an effective manner that I sometimes swear I’m running a surly little diesel.  I’ve found the most amusing way to accelerate is achieved by revving the engine progressively to 3,000rpm and then letting the it naturally change gears.  Doing this rewards the driver with a satisfying “POP” from the exhaust that is felt rather than heard.     

The engine itself is something I’m still getting used to.  As it’s my first turbo-powered car I’ve had to learn how to best manage with the slight, but ever present, turbo-lag.  We’re not talking about the multiple seconds of lag found in a Ferrari F40, but a barely perceptible hesitation from the engine until it realizes that yes, you really do want to go quite quickly as there are multiple oncoming cars. 

This is quite different from my Golf, which would always allow me to pull away rapidly (Golf levels of rapidity, so visualize a Bulldog stomping towards you) in a typical naturally aspirated fashion.  The other issue I’m having is the constant interference from the stability control.  Putting my foot to the floor in anything but extremely dry conditions results in spinning front wheels while the clunky ESP ponders what to do next.  The dashboard light flashes and the car eventually and jerkily regains traction.  This is no bad thing as I feel like a hooligan, but it certainly doesn’t allow me to win every fight at the stop light drag race.

Overall though, this car is a pure delight to drive, and everything makes me think that it should be called “the little Panzer tank that could”.  But this tank just happens to look the business.  For those of you not as sorely addicted to cars as myself the GTI may seem like a run-of-the-mill Golf.  But those in the know pick out the dual shiny exhausts, the red detailing on the front honeycomb grill, and the beefier wheels that mark this out as something special.  In its striking Deep Black Pearl paint and two door layout this car has got to be one of the sexiest things on four wheels.

Jumping inside just increases this perception.  Some auto-reviewers have said that the steering wheel in the GTI is the best in any car under $200,000, and these are educated fellows so I won’t argue.  Flat-bottomed with red stitching and a GTI logo combined with paddles and numerous buttons makes this wheel something to behold (literally!).  The seats seem borrowed from an S-something Audi and root me to the spot better than a naked Jessica Alba.  But unlike Ms. Alba they are made of cow skin and come with embossed headrests.  The Dynaudio sound system is ace and the sat-nav is just such a newfangled piece of kit that I can’t get mad at it.  Even though the drunken GPS lady has told me at least once to turn left into a cement barrier while traveling at 120km/h to reach my destination of “TAROOONNNTUUUUU”, wherever that is.

The negatives?  Well, the car comes with voice recognition but I can’t for the life of me figure out how it works.  I seem to have also developed ACD (Automotive Cleaning Disorder) caused by the car looking so good that I can’t stand any dirt on or in it.  This includes snowflakes, the pesky bastards.

I have resorted to washing her (at a touch free carwash no less) at least once a week.  I’ve also bought a small cordless vacuum to routinely suck up any crumbies that are left on the seats or floor.  VW provided me with a special cloth that I use to wipe down the dash and display almost every day, and I have also resorted to using the soapy dish washing cloth to scrub out the cup-holders.  Speaking of dish soap, I’ve found that combining it with some water in a bucket provides a great cleaning solution to dirty wheels and exhausts.   God I’ve got problems.

But it hasn’t been all sunshine and daisies over the past months.   In late November I noticed a strange rattling noise coming from the exhaust when the car was accelerating at around 3,000 to 4,500rpm, and it was persistent in any temperature and still there after my running-in period.  A quick troll of the forums revealed that this is a common trait of Mk6s, and a simple clamp fitted to my wastegate would solve the problem.  A trip to my local dealer was all it took to have the noise completely vanquished, and I got a Jetta for the day with my warranty. 

The darkened windows that can be seen in a previous post did such a good job that at night my poor eyesight could barely perceive anything beyond the windows, so the illegal tinting had to go.  And yes, I felt dumb for having put it on in the first place.

Winter floor mats with red GTI logos, shiny “GTI” license plate covers, and some organizer blocks (picture velcroable “L”s that go in the trunk to create sturdy storage options) were also purchased to add to the uniqueness and practicality of my car. 

So far, the biggest and best purchases are some winter tires and dedicated winter rims.  My delicious 18’ Serrons were so nice that I just couldn’t bear the thought of any of their shiny goodness being damaged during the horrible months of winter.  I looked around for some nice OEM rims from lesser VW models, but neither eBay nor my local dealer offered anything that piqued my interest.  I then decided to have a look at Pfaff Tuning to see if any aftermarket rims could possibly fit the bill.  I was interested to see the tuning arm of Pfaff as I have been thinking about buying some aftermarket additions for the ol’girl come the New Year.  A quick trip to their shop, a leaf through a pamphlet, and a garage tour (including a fully prepped and race-ready ABT GTI on stilts) saw me purchasing four Audi R8 replica wheels with VW center caps.

Previous experience told me that Pirelli P Zeros were a good choice for winter rubber, but I really wanted to try something new.  After EVO’s 2011 winter tire test came out naming the Continental Winter Contact TS830 P the best overall choice my decision was practically made for me. 

So far the tires have been grippy, but leave enough slip to be playful when I want them to, and the R8 replica wheels are almost better looking than my standard Serrons.  At 17’ they fill the arches a tad less than my summer rims, but still provide enough beefy character to notify everyone that I care how my baby looks.

What’s on the horizon for my black beauty?  Well, you’ll just have to wait until spring time to find out.


~ by ubercar on January 26, 2012.

One Response to “Three Months Later and I’m Still Giggling”

  1. I feel the same way every time I drive my car! I’m so happy and thankful its ALL MINE! Thanks for sharing your happiness being a satisfied and giggly car owner!

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