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2008 Volkswagen GTI

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2008 Volkswagen GTI Review

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Costing well under $25,000, the 2008 Volkswagen GTI returns to its roots by infusing razor-sharp handling with spirited acceleration. Thanks to the GTI's clever hatchback design, drivers can enjoy true German-engineered performance without having to sacrifice comfort for four people or a roomy cargo hold. Although now larger and heavier than the original car, the GTI remains a manageable size and features its most powerful engine to date: A turbocharged 2.0-liter unit pumping out 200 horsepower. Drivers can choose between a slick-shifting six-speed manual or Volkswagen's marvelous Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic, which is without question the best auto-manual transmission money can buy.

You'll Like This Car If...

A powerful, flexible engine combined with flat, responsive handling, a lot of grip in the corners and front-wheel-drive predictability make the 2008 Volkswagen GTI a joy to drive enthusiastically wherever appropriate.

You May Not Like This Car If...

While the 2008 Volkswagen GTI out-muscles the new Civic Si, MINI Cooper S and Mazda3 s, it's also 400 to 600 pounds heavier than those competitors. In fact, this biggest GTI ever weighs as much as Volkswagen's Passat midsize sedan. The extra weight isn't readily apparent, but it's certainly no advantage, either.

What's New for 2008

Changes for 2008 include a 15mm suspension-height reduction, the addition of SIRIUS Satellite Radio as standard equipment and the removal of the Climatronic automatic climate control from all models.

Driving the GTI
Driving Impressions

The 2008 Volkswagen GTI drives as true to the original as a 3,300-pound, turbocharged car can be expected. It's on the heavy side, but steering is razor-sharp and cornering grip...

... is tenacious and flat (a mid-corner bump can startle the GTI, but it recovers quickly). It's turbocharged, but turbo lag is virtually non-existent, boost is silky, there's plenty of torque available almost immediately and torque steer has been all but eliminated. Like the best GTIs before it, the newest is fun around town and confidence-inspiring on even unfamiliar mountain and canyon roads. The six-speed manual works like a charm, but it doesn't take too long to be won over by the six-speed DSG gearbox that shifts quickly and smoothly at the push of a button. The highway ride might be stiff for some, but anyone expecting this level of performance might find it downright comfortable.

Six-Speed Direct Shift Gearbox
In stop-and-go traffic it's a smooth-shifting automatic transmission. On your favorite road or track it's a quick-shifting, no-pedal manual. You won't miss the clutch pedal as much as you may think.

Front Seats
Well-bolstered cloth seats and even deeper leather ones provide plenty of support to keep you from having to fight the lateral forces you're having so much fun generating. They're also comfortable.

2008 Volkswagen GTI Details
Interior

The interior of the GTI is crafted with a level of materials and build quality that outclasses some very good competition. Highlights include aluminum pedals and trim, leather steering wheel, handbrake and shift knob and a cooled storage compartment under the front armrest. At night, controls are illuminated in Volkswagen's now-familiar blue and red scheme. In back, passengers get their own heating, ventilation and air conditioning vents, while a 60/40 split folding seatback extends the car's hatchback functionality. Did we mention the fantastic sport bucket seats? They are arguably the best in this class.

Exterior

In homage to first- and second-generation GTIs, the newest model features a thin red grille surround and original-style GTI logos. Other highlights include a honeycomb mesh grille, low-set fog lights, mirror-integrated turn indicators, discreet rear spoiler and red brake calipers visible through 17-inch wheels. Last year's introduction of North America's first ever four-door GTI expands the car's appeal to enthusiasts who now have kids.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Standard equipment on a base GTI includes a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission, HID xenon headlamps with washers, fog lights, power locks with remote keyless entry, one-touch power windows, heated power mirrors, air conditioning, cruise control, multifunction trip computer, 10-speaker AM/FM/6CD-MP3 sound system, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, cloth seats, tilt and telescoping leather steering wheel with audio and telephone controls (plus paddle shifters on DSG-equipped models), leather shift knob and 17-inch wheels. Standard safety equipment includes front, front-side and two-row side-curtain airbags, plus electronic stability and traction aids. Summer performance tires can be swapped for all-season performance tires at no cost.

Optional Equipment

Equipment not included on a base GTI includes a six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG), the Autobahn Package with power glass sunroof, heated leather sport seats with power-adjustable lumbar, premium sound system and heated windshield washer nozzles, 18-inch wheels and a navigation system that relocates the six-disc CD changer to beneath the center armrest.

Under the Hood

The GTI's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine benefits from FSI direct fuel injection that helps to counteract turbo lag and provide more of the low-end torque that's long been a GTI calling card. The optional six-speed DSG transmission adds just over $1,000 to the price but provides slightly quicker zero to 60-miles-per-hour runs (just 6.8 seconds, according to VW) and marginally better combined fuel economy.

2.0-liter in-line 4
200 horsepower @ 5100 rpm
207 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 (manual), 22/29 (automatic)

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2008 Volkswagen GTI Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.1
Out of 10

Based on 196 Ratings for the 2006 - 2009 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    9.2/10
    Quality
    9.3/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    9.6/10
  • Comfort
    9.3/10
    Styling
    9.4/10

GTI, AWESOME car in its price range

By on Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 85,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Handling, power, style all in a small package"

Cons: "Crammed engine can be tough to work on"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I own an '08 MKV GTI and am in the process of cleaning it up to sell it. This process is bringing up memories of buying this car new and slowly doing things to it to make it mine. This car was one of the top 10 cars of the year when the MKV popped up. The new 2.0L motor is great. I got it because I wanted a hatchback, and I wanted something fun and sporty that was great on gas. I find that the GTI is a great mix of everything. It's very well built, the motor is very responsive and a great base for building a fun track-able car, and it looked great. I was in the market for something cheaper than an STI, and with more power than a Civic/Mini. So I was in that lower 20 thousand dollar range... I ultimately settled on my GTI. If you intend on buying any GTI, I'd highly recommend getting a tune for it. I bought my GTI partially because of the numbers it put down after a tune. Stock it's 207hp/200ftlbs. A simple APR Stage 1 tune will put you at 250hp/300ftlbs with a pretty linear power curve. For about $600 you can get a stage 1 tune and it turns this car from a 15 second car to a 14 second car. It's a world of difference that's WELL worth the money. Intake is pretty cheap as well and really opens up the turbo sound. It's not an annoying whistle, more of a nice "Woooosh" when you get on the gas. Suspension is great on it. I have a set of coil overs on mine, and an APR rear sway bar on the highest setting (200% stiffness). It rides on rails after this and is really fun. Fuel consumption is great. With the real time gas mileage in the cluster you really learn to alter your driving habits to get the most out of each tank of gas. My silverado has the average gas mileage which is nice, but the GTI has average and real time which I like. The space in the hatch is awesome. I got the GTI with the idea that I could haul all of my bass gear in it. I've shoved so much stuff in there with the seats down that it kind of surprised me. The rear passenger area is fairly decent for leg room as well. I've asked people sitting in the back if they were comfortable and I've never heard any complaints. I'd say some of the down sides to this car are with the 2 door model like mine, the doors open VERY wide. They're very long doors and they open to nearly 85°. And working on the engine can be a major pain depending on the work. I recently changed my thermostat and literally put in about 10 hours to get it done. It's crammed SOOO far behind the intake manifold and has hoses attached tightly to it that it makes it difficult to 1) reach, and 2) remove. I'm pushing 85K miles, so the timing belt and water pump are the next things that need to go. After I replaced my thermostat (over the course of several weekends) it started to leak. I put the car aside for another few weeks because digging into the motor and removing ALL of those parts again just made me not want to do it again for a while. So I finally got around to doing it and found that I pinched the thermostat O-ring. Replaced it, got it all back together, did some other maintenance like oil and fuel filter..... And this thing is fun again. All that work was so worth it. I've been detailing it and cleaning it up for a trade in for a C5 Z06 Vette. I want something to track and older Vettes are very under valued right now in the market. Otherwise I'd keep this car. As I drive this thing around again, I'm realizing how great of a car this is. With a simple stage 1 tune, this thing is the perfect balance of power and handling. It rides on rails and I can take a 90° turn and FLOOR this thing and it'll handle it all. It won't go out of control and put you in a ditch. This could partially be because I put a dogbone spacer in the engine mount that eats a lot of the wheel spin. I have the DSG transmission in mine. It was also one of the reasons I got the car. The transmission was fairly new but I've read that there was no leg between gears. It's exactly that. I can have this thing redlined and then shift and you barely even know that you've gone into another gear. The downshifts on the other hand are rough. They're probably the most complained about thing on the car. That and it can take up to a couple of seconds to engage once you go into manual mode, drop a gear and then floor it. There's been times when I've done that and literally waited 2-3 seconds for it to happen. But once your actually IN manual mode it's pretty consistently fast. I love the DSG for the simple fact that I can drop 1-3 gears really quick to pass someone and then shove it right back into drive. That way I'm not in drive flooring it all the time. A simple gear drop with some light throttle and this thing pulls. The paddle shifters, meh, I'm not a fan of them. There's just something awkward about holding your hands at 9 and 3 and driving like that just to paddle shift. It's so much more comfortable to have a hand on the stick. The paddles do occasionally come in handy for a gear shift. If you drop a gear with the paddles while it's in drive, it'll drop that gear and stay in manual mode for about 10 seconds and then go back into drive. It's got its uses but I rarely needed it."

9 people out of 12 found this review helpful

2009 GTI Suffering Chronic Failures Since 50K Mile

By on Monday, January 4, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 86,000

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Fun to drive when it's not in the shop."

Cons: "Poor quality and reliability."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"Once my 2009 GTI reached 50K miles, it began to experience chronic failures. First the Turbo needed to be replaced. Then the starter motor. Ignition coils. Moon roof opens by itself. Throttle body need replacement. I have a folder 2 inches thick with all the service records. Contacted VW of America but the did not help. Unfortunately, the nature and frequency of the problems were outside of the scope of the Lemon Law. Fails on average 4-5 times per year. Right now it's at the dealer because of a faulty ABS Control Module which they want $2300.00 to repair. Worse vehicle I have ever owned."

3 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Lemon lemon lemon

By on Thursday, August 6, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 82,000

10 2.0
overall rating 2 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
2/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Fun to drive (when it works)"

Cons: "Many repairs, and always expensive"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"One issue after another. It is literally ALWAYS something with this car. I have never had a car that is so unreliable and that needs so many (always expensive) repairs. In the last 4000 miles we've shelled out over $2500 in repairs. In 4000 miles! This is the second VW that has left me stranded in the middle of nowhere on a road trip. Never again."

11 people out of 18 found this review helpful

fun, fast, reliable

By on Thursday, May 28, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 92,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "quick fast agile nimble efficient maintainable"

Cons: "few electrical issues"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"i love this car. i'm 24 , I've have had this car for almost 5 years, and talk about it as if i were a middle aged man reminiscing on his mustang he had in college. It's as agile as it is efficient. If you're looking for a car that you can get cheap horsepower out of without the sacrifice of MPG, the GTI is the car for you. The ride is almost too comfortable and the car is heavily over engineered. I would recommend this car even to my worst enemy."

6 people out of 14 found this review helpful

Great little car

By on Sunday, July 6, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Handling is amazing. Seating position is perfect."

Cons: "Depreciation is a little high."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Not the highest horsepower sports coupe, but also not the priciest. The turbocharged 200-HP engine and perfect gear ratios make it a very quick car. There's virtually no turbo lag. I think it's great value for the money. Still has contemporary looks. I prefer the manual trans' over the DSG. The standard seating is very supportive and grippy. The HID headlamps make for great forward vision. Overall, a great little car. I'd buy another one except that I need a larger vehicle now."

17 people out of 28 found this review helpful

first and last

By on Saturday, April 26, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 90,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "great fuel economy"

Cons: "$$$ to maintain,"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"This is a pocket personality car $$$ expensive to own and maintain. This is a great summer car but cannot handle the Ohio winters and roads. This was my 1st VW and it will be my last."

7 people out of 26 found this review helpful

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