2010: Volkswagen GTI
“Yes, the VW GTI is our Automobile of the Year. Again. The last-generation car got the nod only three years ago and now its successor, the sixth-generation GTI, walks away with the trophy as well. How is it that, for the first time since we started naming an Automobile of the Year exactly twenty years ago, we have deemed a single make and model vehicle worthy of our top award not once, but twice? It’s very simple. Because the Volkswagen GTI continues to burn the affordable-enthusiast-car flame like no other vehicle in the world. Because the new, Mark 6 GTI, although only a mild update to the Mark 5 GTI, made a good thing even better. Because, as we pointed out in our February 2007 issue, the GTI is “the right car for our times. Hell, it’s the right car for any time.” And because, as we also stated three years ago, “what the world really needs now is not cars that are fast, but cars that are practical, fuel-efficient, and fast.” Not to mention affordable and fun. The 2010 VW GTI is all this, and more.
“We’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: It’s one thing for an automaker to create a car for fifty, or seventy-five, or a hundred thousand dollars or more that gets our pulses racing. Cars that cost that much certainly better be exciting to drive, rewarding to own, and well-built, with quality interiors. But it’s another thing entirely, a real achievement, when an automaker creates a car that starts at only $24,239 – well within the reach of most new-car buyers – that is, as one staffer says, “just as much fun to drive and with just as much street cred as cars costing three times as much.” Volkswagen alone has managed to do this, with varying degrees of success, longer than any other automaker: the first GTI reached the U.S. in 1983 and single-handedly created the whole “pocket rocket” genre. Lots of other cars, most recently two successive generations of the Mazdaspeed 3, have attempted to replicate the GTI formula, but none have quite cracked the code.
“At a time when the world’s economy is in shambles and fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are on everyone’s minds, there remains only one car that ticks all the enthusiast boxes without setting off a single wretched-excess alarm. That’s the Volkswagen GTI, and that’s why it is, once again, Automobile Magazine’s Automobile of the Year.”