What do you think of the VW GTi?

General conversations about BMW E28s and the people who own them.
LarryM
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What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by LarryM »

I'm thinking of buying one as kind of a fair-weather DD. I'm lukewarm on the styling of the MK VIII, due in the U.S. either later this year or sometime next year, and might prefer a MK VII, either new or a low mileage/well-maintained used one. I think they're pretty slick.

I know they have certain reliability issues compared to, say, a typical Japanese car. But many owners report few problems with regular maintenance, and love them for the fun-to-drive factor alone. They can be had with a DSG or manual (I'd prefer the manual). A new one can be had for thousands less than retail, and nice 2017-2019s for less than ~$20K. IMO they seem like a bargain. What say you?
krhodes1
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by krhodes1 »

I had a 6spd 2017 GTI Sport until a month ago. Bought it new at the depths of the Dieselgate scandal, traded my M235i for it. I LOVED it! And not a single issue in four years 21K. Just a great all-around car. Really my only gripe is VW didn't sell a station wagon GTI - the extra cargo space would have been nice. But it looked good, drove GREAT, comfortable, quiet, and excellent fuel economy.

Only sold it because now that I also have a 128i convertible, I was barely driving it. On a whim I ran it through Carvana and nearly fainted at how much they wanted to give me. Basically, it cost me $3K to own it for four years. Took the money and ran, spent some of it on a very nice '04 Volvo V70 that will lug more crap and I don't feel so bad about sitting in the FL sun all the time.

-Kevin
LarryM
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by LarryM »

Glad to hear about your positive experience and I agree a GTi Sportwagon would be ideal.

These days when you go on Autotrader, Craigslist, etc. you see a LOT of GTis being sold by Carvana. A lot of clean ones, too. However I've heard they won't let you get a PPI done before committing to purchase. And if you get a "lemon", they won't refund your $$ but just allow you a "credit" towards a different Carvana car.

How selective did they seem in choosing to buy your car? Did they carefully inspect it and ask for maintenance records, CarFax, etc?
krhodes1
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by krhodes1 »

LarryM wrote: Feb 28, 2021 8:27 PM Glad to hear about your positive experience and I agree a GTi Sportwagon would be ideal.

These days when you go on Autotrader, Craigslist, etc. you see a LOT of GTis being sold by Carvana. A lot of clean ones, too. However I've heard they won't let you get a PPI done before committing to purchase. And if you get a "lemon", they won't refund your $$ but just allow you a "credit" towards a different Carvana car.

How selective did they seem in choosing to buy your car? Did they carefully inspect it and ask for maintenance records, CarFax, etc?
They checked that the odometer matched what I told them, and that it started. They literally show up with a ramp truck, look at the car for 30 seconds, you sign the papers, and they transfer the money to your account on the spot. I assume they ran a CarFax or whatever when they made their offer. So not fussy at all - but when is a dealer ever that fussy about trade-ins or auction cars? They buy them, do as little as possible, and throw them on the lot for sale. Here is Carvana's return policy: https://www.carvana.com/help/purchasing ... -guarantee

In short, you have 7 days/400 miles for a refund OR exchange. $1/mi over the 400.

I would probably never buy a car from any of those places (I either buy new, or far more fully depreciated cars), but I have sold two cars to CarMax and now this one to Carvana (they offered $2500 more than CarMax) and got basically private party money for each of them. I think the GTI was just a bit too old for CarMAx to be really interested in - the offered me what I figured was a typical trade-in value for it.
LarryM
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by LarryM »

Maybe they’ve changed; I’d heard they didn’t give cash refunds. If that’s the case then Carvana’s current refund policy sounds OK. At least you’d have a week / 400 miles to get a PPI done and then choose whether to accept or reject the car. VW’s new car warranty is pretty good so a used one would have to be discounted quite a bit in order to make it a wise purchase.

I don’t mind buying used but I’d much prefer to deal with a private party so I can inquire about things like maintenance history and get an idea of how the car has been treated.
SlickDizzy
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by SlickDizzy »

I bought a ‘16 GTI SE as a CPO with 10k miles and sold it around 90K last year as part of an effort to tighten my belt for fear of COVID-related hardships (which thankfully never came to pass).

My prior experiences with VW had been mixed to negative; I was cross shopping the GTI with the current Mazda 3 and went for the GTI because the dealer was willing to negotiate more aggressively.

It was a great car to drive, very comfortable, great fuel economy, no complaints on that part of the experience.

However near the end of my ownership its “VW-ness” started to show. I would occasionally get random electrical faults involving the keyless entry/start system that were not consistently replicable. The car seized its electronic turbo wastegate solenoid (asinine design decision), and VW’s recommended solution was to replace the whole turbo at over $3000 since they do not sell the part separately. Thankfully the aftermarket had a more palatable solution involving an Audi part retrofit for about $200, but the job sucked to do. I did not have any of the ignition coil problems these cars are known for, nor did I have the requisite intake valve carbon cleaning done, but a friend who is a VW indie told me that both of those issues likely would have reared their head very soon if I had not sold it.

Overall I liked the car but I wouldn’t buy one again, after multiple prior bad experiences with VW this one started to show some of the same symptoms near the end. It was a honey to drive though and looked great.
cbumga11
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by cbumga11 »

Just got rid of my 2016 VW GTI Autobahn, DSG, No Performance Package, Certified Pre-Owned. Traveled to Chicago from St. Louis due to CPO. Also bought an additional warranty to take me to 90k miles.

-HVAC/Climate Control System went out, and would not fluctuate heat or AC only blows lukewarm air. Took back to dealer, and paid $100 for CPO deductible and replaced. A $3000 job should I have not opted for the CPO.

-DSG Transmission failed. Warranty replacement. 5k left.

-DSG Transmission failed again. Warranty replacement, with 1k left on the CPO
(I believe the dealer repaired to the minimal operational level my original transmission to get me past the warranty period)

-DSG functioned but with a distinct transmission drop when shifting from R to D.

-While driving at 70mph, car lost all power, and thankfully made it to side of road. Bent valve springs, clogged injectors, and carbon build up at 74k miles. The kiss of death, out of CPO and relied on my aftermarket to pay up. 7k in repairs, 100.00 deductible.

I will add, I am a responsible driver in my mid 30's. I never drove it hard, never used the paddle shifters. I always used premium gas, and was dealer maintained.

I have friends that have GTi's and love them and I think I bought a lemon. If not buying new, I would strongly consider a CPO. In VW's defense, they said they never encountered a more problematic GTi and I believe that.

Traded it in for a 2017 4-Runner Off Road Premium, and have not looked back.
Mike W.
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by Mike W. »

I know it's been forever now since they even made them, let alone since they were VWs bread and butter, but I hear VW and my first thought is aircooled. Which were good cars for the day. But seems like the early watercooled wasn't bad, but they've been going downhill every since like the story just above here.

My only experience with relatively recent ones was a 2012 Passat rental, which I had very high hopes for. Turned out to be an awful car, a collection of parts bolted together more than a car. Roomy, but terrible ergonomics, nothing felt comfortable. Horsepower was even overrated, it was much slower than it should have been for the 170 rating.
glowell222
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by glowell222 »

I had a 2012 Golf TDI, one of the EPAgate victims. (Still waiting for anyone at EPA to be held accountable for not catching on to this at all).

It was a great car. It handled fantastic, clutch and shift action was just superb, got great fuel mileage, was hackable so I could turn off all of the stupid USA nags and nannies, was reliable, and was not ostentatious. I thought about and test drove the GTI, but it was too "boy racer" for me, trying too hard and I didn't like the interior: no choice in interior color or materials. It handled exactly like the TDI, a bit better with low profile tires, TDI had a better ride. GTI had more power, but so what? I wasn't driving on the Nürburgring, and the TDI got up to 80 mph about as well as anything else out there.
rodpaine
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by rodpaine »

Still have our 2015 Golf TDI 6-speed and 2015 Golf R DSG. Both purchased new and still running beautifully and only changes were to involve 18x8.5 inch Neuspeed RSe10 wheels and Michelin premium all weather tires on both VW's. The Golf R now has 35k miles on it, the Golf TDI has 23k miles and both live outside in northern VA weather, protected by Zymol every year. Serviced ONLY by same lead technician we've used for years on our earlier VW auto's.
FWIW,
-Rod
e12euro
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by e12euro »

Mike W. wrote: Mar 02, 2021 5:08 PM I know it's been forever now since they even made them, let alone since they were VWs bread and butter, but I hear VW and my first thought is aircooled. Which were good cars for the day. But seems like the early watercooled wasn't bad, but they've been going downhill every since like the story just above here.

My only experience with relatively recent ones was a 2012 Passat rental, which I had very high hopes for. Turned out to be an awful car, a collection of parts bolted together more than a car. Roomy, but terrible ergonomics, nothing felt comfortable. Horsepower was even overrated, it was much slower than it should have been for the 170 rating.
Some might remember that the early watercooled VWs (Dasher, Rabbit & Scirocco) were great to drive and diabolical reliabilitywise. VWOA did a major recall and fix up for owners in 1976, but realize this, the air cooled 1975 Bug had a 24/24 warranty, but water cooled ones were 12/12. Think about it. :)

Road & Track Owner Surveys:

March 1979 BMW 530i (ave mileage 29,000) (1975-78)

Problem areas 6 / Reliability areas 0 average for all cars 12/7

May 1979 VW Rabbit & Scirocco (ave mileage 19,400) (1975-78)

Problem areas 10 / Reliability areas 3 average for all cars 12/7

My dad has had two Audis, still on the second (a loaded 1997 C4 A6 2.8 30 valve automatic sedan, very babied, which is probably why it hasn't broken in two), but would never, ever buy another VW Group vehicle...ever!! For the record I am into air cooled VWs, which can and do outlast their owners. :cool:
tn535i
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by tn535i »

e12euro wrote: Mar 10, 2021 2:42 PM Some might remember that the early watercooled VWs (Dasher, Rabbit & Scirocco) were great to drive and diabolical reliabilitywise. VWOA did a major recall and fix up for owners in 1976, but realize this, the air cooled 1975 Bug had a 24/24 warranty, but water cooled ones were 12/12. Think about it. :)
When I was still in college my dad bought a VW Dasher (aka Audi Fox). At the time it was the best small car I had ever driven period and second place I would have given to a manual transmission Honda Prelude. At the time we lived in Flint MI area and the GM equivalent by size and purpose was the Chevy Vega Wagon. By comparison a complete piece of crap in every way although they outnumbered the VW 100:1 on the road. I borrowed that car from dad anytime I could and he kept it for over 300 or 400k until it was pinched in a multi car collision. He sold it still running but told me it took 30 seconds for the oil light to go off after an oil change. I don't think the clutch on that little 4 speed had ever been changed.

I sometimes wonder what my impression would be if I drove that car today? Would I think the same? If they built a small wagon like that I think I would like it for my everyday car over the e28 but everything else out there is just too complicated and bloated compared to these old cars. Is there anything roughly equivalent?
e12euro
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by e12euro »

tn535i wrote: Mar 10, 2021 3:01 PM
e12euro wrote: Mar 10, 2021 2:42 PM Some might remember that the early watercooled VWs (Dasher, Rabbit & Scirocco) were great to drive and diabolical reliabilitywise. VWOA did a major recall and fix up for owners in 1976, but realize this, the air cooled 1975 Bug had a 24/24 warranty, but water cooled ones were 12/12. Think about it. :)
When I was still in college my dad bought a VW Dasher (aka Audi Fox). At the time it was the best small car I had ever driven period and second place I would have given to a manual transmission Honda Prelude. At the time we lived in Flint MI area and the GM equivalent by size and purpose was the Chevy Vega Wagon. By comparison a complete piece of crap in every way although they outnumbered the VW 100:1 on the road. I borrowed that car from dad anytime I could and he kept it for over 300 or 400k until it was pinched in a multi car collision. He sold it still running but told me it took 30 seconds for the oil light to go off after an oil change. I don't think the clutch on that little 4 speed had ever been changed.

I sometimes wonder what my impression would be if I drove that car today? Would I think the same? If they built a small wagon like that I think I would like it for my everyday car over the e28 but everything else out there is just too complicated and bloated compared to these old cars. Is there anything roughly equivalent?
You can see the original Dasher here on Car and Track 1974 with Bud Lindemann

Dasher 1974

I am sure there were many people that had reliable service with such cars, early water cooled, but many did not. Drivability with the Audi design inline 4 was bad, which is why they switched to fuel injection quickly. Like VWs today, they were great to drive, but....I remember the early Dashers, a mechanic I knew used one in the service shop, even parked it once in my garage. Nice looking cars. And no, there are no direct equivalent simple cars today, they have been legislated out of existence. ;)

And here's the Vega Wagon

Vega & Pinto on Car & Track
tn535i
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by tn535i »

My dad's was a fuel injected variant. It was easy to service and needed very little work. It was boring in a way being tan on brownish interior. Compared to his previous Datsun B210 (I think) with a 4 speed it was indestructible. The Datsun was easily broken, especially by my brother.

A couple years later he upgraded mom to an Audi 5000 non-turbo automatic. This one was white w/blue leather and perhaps the prettiest German sedan around IMO. But it was a problem child. Solution to several of it's problems was to put in the little bit stronger turbo parts, like front axles and such.
e12euro
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by e12euro »

tn535i wrote: Mar 10, 2021 3:30 PM My dad's was a fuel injected variant. It was easy to service and needed very little work. It was boring in a way being tan on brownish interior. Compared to his previous Datsun B210 (I think) with a 4 speed it was indestructible. The Datsun was easily broken, especially by my brother.

A couple years later he upgraded mom to an Audi 5000 non-turbo automatic. This one was white w/blue leather and perhaps the prettiest German sedan around IMO. But it was a problem child. Solution to several of it's problems was to put in the little bit stronger turbo parts, like front axles and such.
Yes, that C2 100/5000 was a nice looking car. Some felt it was the successor to the NSU Ro80, because it started production at the same plant (Neckarsulm) when the NSU ended.

Sadly, stories abound of reliability problems with the C1,C2, C3,C4 and on Audis, and remember the runaway Audi 5000s on 60 Minutes?! :laugh:

You may remember Higgins drove the C2 and C3 5000s on Magnum P.I., and T.C. had the VW Vanagon. The story went they wanted Magnum to drive a Porsche 928 and complete the VW/Audi thing, remember the Porsche+Audi dealerships up to 1985? But Porsche said they wouldn't do a 928 with a bigger sunroof, so they chose the Ferrari. :)
Last edited by e12euro on Mar 10, 2021 3:51 PM, edited 1 time in total.
e12euro
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by e12euro »

Sorry, double post.
Kapt
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by Kapt »

I’ve always had manual GTI’s as my daily drivers with a 2019 as my latest, the last year with the extra long warranty. It does everything well with just enough power to be fun but not enough to get you into trouble. The interior feels a lot bigger than it looks from the outside and when the back seats are folded down there’s lots of room for hauling. I find the seats super comfortable too. As far as long term maintenance goes I don’t know because I usually get rid of them after the warranty expires. Since I’m constantly wrenching on my projects I like to have a worry free car. I think the GTI is a great overall value.
SlickDizzy
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by SlickDizzy »

Kapt wrote: Mar 12, 2021 10:37 PM As far as long term maintenance goes I don’t know because I usually get rid of them after the warranty expires.
I think this is the key if you can afford it. Those of us in the thread who have had mixed-to-negative experiences really saw the cars take a turn for the worse after the warranty period was up.

I think VW makes great cheap cars that are deceptively nice but they hide the cheapness where you can’t see it. As I alluded to earlier a good friend is a VW indie and he does very well for himself working on examples that suffered major failures just out of warranty. (He recommends the 2.5 and VR6 models with a manual transmission for a “more reliable” experience.)
three5ives
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by three5ives »

I just bought a 2017 GTI Sport 6sp 45K about 7 months ago from a friend who's an active vintage BMW enthusiast. I live in a dense urban environment in N. ATL, and the GTI makes every short trip fun and entertaining. As someone else mentioned, it has just enough power to make things interesting. The car is more refined than I expected, very comfortable and the controls are light and smooth.

Funny story. Back in the day I bought a 1984 GTI new. I had just gotten married, about to graduate college, and had joined the USMC. When I left for basic training at lovely all inclusive Parris Island resort, I left the car with my wife, she had a 1974 Camaro Z28 (A/T) that her dad (a master mechanic/shop Forman at a national freight company) had modded to his 'spec'. It's all she drove, she knew how to drive a manual, but just barely. That Z28 was a pretty hot car with his mods. Her dad aways laughed at the GTI - he was not a fan of German engineering. When I returned for 10 days leave after graduating from PI, the GTI was all my wife would drive. She had become a backroad terror in that thing. Her dad almost disowned her. :D
e12euro
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by e12euro »

three5ives wrote: Mar 28, 2021 8:57 AM I just bought a 2017 GTI Sport 6sp 45K about 7 months ago from a friend who's an active vintage BMW enthusiast. I live in a dense urban environment in N. ATL, and the GTI makes every short trip fun and entertaining. As someone else mentioned, it has just enough power to make things interesting. The car is more refined than I expected, very comfortable and the controls are light and smooth.

Funny story. Back in the day I bought a 1984 GTI new. I had just gotten married, about to graduate college, and had joined the USMC. When I left for basic training at lovely all inclusive Parris Island resort, I left the car with my wife, she had a 1974 Camaro Z28 (A/T) that her dad (a master mechanic/shop Forman at a national freight company) had modded to his 'spec'. It's all she drove, she knew how to drive a manual, but just barely. That Z28 was a pretty hot car with his mods. Her dad aways laughed at the GTI - he was not a fan of German engineering. When I returned for 10 days leave after graduating from PI, the GTI was all my wife would drive. She had become a backroad terror in that thing. Her dad almost disowned her. :D
Goodness me, I would have certainly taken the Z28 over the Golf GTi. However, it is true that many drivers back in the day, especially women, wanted a smaller car because it was easier to control and park, and was thriftier on gas. Plus, they were cheaper to buy in the first place, by that I don't include BMWs or prestige Euro brands that were relatively small cars for their price.

Apart from smaller size, when people thought import, they thought great handling. So the Rabbit & Golf GTi displayed both small size and great handling, a typical imported car and buyers wanted both qualities. That said, the Z28 was always a great handling car, and the Firebird Trans Am even more so. :cool:
stuartinmn
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by stuartinmn »

My brother bought a Rabbit back in 1976 (no GTi in the US yet back then.) From today's perspective it was pretty primitive, but it was great little car and a lot of fun to drive.
LarryM
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by LarryM »

SlickDizzy wrote: Mar 13, 2021 10:48 AM
Kapt wrote: Mar 12, 2021 10:37 PM As far as long term maintenance goes I don’t know because I usually get rid of them after the warranty expires.
I think this is the key if you can afford it. Those of us in the thread who have had mixed-to-negative experiences really saw the cars take a turn for the worse after the warranty period was up.

I think VW makes great cheap cars that are deceptively nice but they hide the cheapness where you can’t see it. As I alluded to earlier a good friend is a VW indie and he does very well for himself working on examples that suffered major failures just out of warranty. (He recommends the 2.5 and VR6 models with a manual transmission for a “more reliable” experience.)
I think this applies to most modern German cars in general. I don't think I'd buy a higher-mileage, late-model Audi, BMW or Mercedes that's out of warranty either. (There's no car that's better at converting people to die-hard Lexus ownership than a used E65-E68 series BMW.) It's not necessarily a "cheapness" of manufacture that does them in; it's more a reliance on overly complex technology, that, when/if it fails, is often very expensive to diagnose and repair.
three5ives
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by three5ives »

e12euro wrote: Mar 28, 2021 12:51 PM
three5ives wrote: Mar 28, 2021 8:57 AM I just bought a 2017 GTI Sport 6sp 45K about 7 months ago from a friend who's an active vintage BMW enthusiast. I live in a dense urban environment in N. ATL, and the GTI makes every short trip fun and entertaining. As someone else mentioned, it has just enough power to make things interesting. The car is more refined than I expected, very comfortable and the controls are light and smooth.

Funny story. Back in the day I bought a 1984 GTI new. I had just gotten married, about to graduate college, and had joined the USMC. When I left for basic training at lovely all inclusive Parris Island resort, I left the car with my wife, she had a 1974 Camaro Z28 (A/T) that her dad (a master mechanic/shop Forman at a national freight company) had modded to his 'spec'. It's all she drove, she knew how to drive a manual, but just barely. That Z28 was a pretty hot car with his mods. Her dad aways laughed at the GTI - he was not a fan of German engineering. When I returned for 10 days leave after graduating from PI, the GTI was all my wife would drive. She had become a backroad terror in that thing. Her dad almost disowned her. :D
Goodness me, I would have certainly taken the Z28 over the Golf GTi. However, it is true that many drivers back in the day, especially women, wanted a smaller car because it was easier to control and park, and was thriftier on gas.

That said, the Z28 was always a great handling car, and the Firebird Trans Am even more so. :cool:
I had a new 1980 red T/A - screaming chicken and all, it wasn't that good, pathetic build quality. Sold within a year. She drove the GTI because it was just more fun - especially if turning was required.
tn535i
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by tn535i »

Another point of view... US manufacturers failed to make smaller cars to compete with the Europeans and Japan NEVER. I think the imports figured out in the 70's how to make efficient transportation. Fast forward to 2020 and the US automakers have only proved that they can make bigger and bigger pick up trucks and realize it's their bread and butter.

So what it really comes down to is how well that GTI can out run and out maneuver in every situation before it gets run over by an F-150 or bigger.
Last edited by tn535i on Mar 29, 2021 10:15 PM, edited 1 time in total.
Mike W.
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Re: What do you think of the VW GTi?

Post by Mike W. »

tn535i wrote: Mar 29, 2021 2:41 PM Another point of view... US manufacturers failed to make smaller cars to compete with the Europeans and Japan NEVER. I think the imports figured out in the 70's how to make efficient transportation. Fast forward to 2020 and the US automakers have only proved that they can make bigger and bigger pick up trucks and realize it's their bread and butter.

So what it really comes down to is how will that GTI can out run and out maneuver in every situation before it gets run over by an F-150 or bigger.
I shake my head about that all the time, that even today, regardless of country of manufacture small cars=shitty cars. Now the Japanese in particular have mastered making them long term reliable appliances, and BMW 3 series aren't all bad, but not up to 5 series standards, but still, with rare exception small=shitty. Now lots of people don't care, they want something cheap to buy, cheap to run and reliable. Thrashy, gutless engines, A/Ts that endlessly cycle back and forth between gears on any sort of grade, uncomfortable interiors, painful seats, cardboard interiors and more is all they want to put in small cars. Once upon a time you used to be able to buy nice, by the then standards, European small cars for less than a kings ransom. Now small=cheap and shitty.

Of course now domestic manufacturers have almost entirely abandoned cars of any size, they just don't sell. Except for the tons of Camrys and Altimas and Corollas and Subarus and Hyundais and BMWs etc that are selling. They have hardly moved since the 60s, if their cars don't sell it must be the market has changed, not that they have failed to make cars that people like.
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