Can Mass Air Flow Sensor Make Your Car Run Rough A Road Test And Review Of The Volkswagen Golf 6 GTI

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A Road Test And Review Of The Volkswagen Golf 6 GTI

The latest generation of the Volkswagen Golf, the Mk VI, currently holds the title of World Car of the Year 2009. The more telling success of the VW Golf is the shear volume of units sold since its inception more than 30 years ago. 26 million VW Golfs sold in more than 120 countries worldwide make it one of the best-selling cars of our time. Then there’s the GTI version.

Since the first generation Golf was introduced in 1976, VW has been awarding the GTI designation to those Golfs that received more power, stiffer suspension and subtle aerodynamic tweaks – and which originally helped coin the term ‘hot hatch’. Over the years, the Golf GTI has evolved and has always been popular with the ‘crowds’ – able to strike a balance between performance and practicality, with an appearance of understated athleticism. The new Volkswagen Golf 6 GTI is declared by many to be only an upgrade of the previous generation, the Golf 5.5 GTI, and not a completely new version. And you wouldn’t be wrong, after all, what’s wrong with improving the Golf 5 GTI, which accounts for over 40% of all Golf 5s sold in this country? This is the question we wanted to answer.

The biggest change to the new GTI is at the front. The bumper, the radiator grille and the interior design of the headlights are a new creation. Painted in high-gloss black, the outer fascia is again a flat surface like the first generation GTI, making the car look wider than it was. The red grille surround is legendary and frames the grille at the top and bottom. Below is a honeycomb radiator grille, flanked by vertically aligned front fog lamps located on either side of the bumper, which help to give the new GTI a wider and lower appearance.

The black side skirts that run between the two fenders of the Golf 5 GTI have been replaced with a shorter and more elegant design.

At the rear, a new diffuser has been added with twin tailpipes now at opposite ends. The only thing that has remained unchanged from the Mk5 GTI are the 18-inch “Detroit” alloy wheels. The openings in the 5-spoke alloy wheels have a “piano black” finish, but a new set of wheels to complement the GTI’s new face wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The overall style of the Golf 6 GTI continues the legacy of sporty looks with a touch of class – we love it.

When we tested VW’s new 1.4-litre TSI Golf 6, we commented that “we immediately felt at home behind the controls – like slipping into your favorite pair of jeans”. Well, the new GTI is no different except for one thing, it’s a GTI!

Heavily bolstered seats, a chunky flat-bottomed 3-spoke steering wheel, brushed stainless-steel pedals, and decorative red stitching on the steering wheel, gearshift surround, and leather parking brake all tell you right away that this is no average Golf. Instruments and controls are clearly legible, easily accessible and operable. The door and instrument panel inserts are finished in a high-gloss black metallic look, rounding off the high-quality interior.

Another key to the GTI’s success has always been its ability to carry four people comfortably, with a decent-sized trunk for their luggage. This latest version is no different and with capacities between 350 and 1305 liters it will easily handle most of your cargo needs. These attributes help make the Golf GTI a hot hatchback with a family focus – and if you’re traveling with loved ones, you’ll be happy to know the new GTI comes with a host of safety features. Suffice to say, the Golf 6 received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and even includes headrests that are optimized for neck impacts.

The steering wheel fits comfortably in your hands, as you quickly find your ideal driving position. Shift levers are within easy reach for quick gear changes. Sports seats hug you in anticipation of the ride ahead. Turn the key and the engine roars to life and settles into a smooth idle. Shift the DSG into gear and the twin exhausts leave a burble in your wake as you set off. The ride is as you’d expect from a GTI, firm but not jarring and comfortable on all but the bumpiest of roads. At first it seems as if the suspension might be too flexible, but this theory is quickly disproved as you accelerate through the corners.

New to the sixth generation GTI is the addition of what VW calls the XDS differential. Essentially an extension of the electronic limited slip differential, it helps eliminate understeer by anticipating conditions when one front wheel is likely to break free and then preemptively applying braking force. As a result, the GTI has fantastic road manners and behaves really well, even when pushed to the limit, ESP all under control smoothly and efficiently. Steering response is positive and provides good road feel, although cornering is sharper than expected and took some time to get used to.

The DSG offers quick and precise shifts, the automatic throttle flick in lower gears is great, but… We couldn’t help but feel that the efficiency of the DSG took some of the fun out of driving. It can’t provide the connection to the engine and wheels that a manual transmission can, but with a hatchback, that’s part of the fun. Being responsible for coordinating the steering, brakes, throttle and gears is the essence of a driver’s car. It’s the rewarding feeling when you succeed and the reason driving is so exciting for most. So what we’re saying is that the DSG is great 90 percent of the time – traffic is a joy – but for the other 10 percent, when you really want to have fun, a manual transmission might force a bigger smile.

Among the current line of hatchbacks (think R26, OPC and ST), the new GTI is still the least powerful, and the numbers don’t inspire excitement. Power continues to come from VW’s ‘EA-888’ 2.0-litre 16-valve turbo engine. Now in the second stage of development, VW engineers did not simply add new or upgrade ECU software. The engine received new components such as modified pistons and piston rings, a regulated oil pump, a new vacuum pump, a new high-pressure fuel pump and a new mass air flow sensor. The result is 155 kW at 5300 rpm and 280 Nm of torque from 1700 rpm to 5200 rpm.

When driving the new Golf GTI, an additional 7 kW is noticeable compared to the previous model. This GTI runs fast. Coupled with the DSG gearbox, VW claims a zero to 100km/h time of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 238km/h, ensuring the GTI can run with the pack. The flat torque curve gives the GTI excellent all-round drivability. Whether you’re thrashing around town, speeding on the open road or racing through corners, the amount of torque is always at your disposal for quick progress.

What we like…

  • The new VW series livery and rear diffuser add an elegant touch to the GTI.

  • The well-balanced chassis and handling make for a fast and exciting ride.

  • Enough power, comfort and space to carry four people or leave them at home and burn rubber.

What would you like…

  • A new set of 18-inch wheels to match the rest of the styling changes.

  • We’d introduce some extras for luxury and comfort, but overall, the GTI remains the best all-around hatchback – for now.

Fast facts

  • Engine volume: 1984 cm3

  • Number of cylinders: 4-cylinder, in-line

  • Aspiration: turbocharger

  • Power: 155 kW @ 5,200 rpm

  • Torque: 280 Nm @ 1,700

  • Gearbox: 6-speed DSG

  • Drive type: Front wheel drive, with XDS differential

  • Acceleration: 0-100 km/h 6.9 seconds (claimed)

  • Top speed: 238 km/h (claimed)

  • Fuel consumption: 7.4 l/100 km (combined)

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