Thursday, July 7, 2011

Mile 69

I bought the GTI today with 69 miles on the odometer. It was a trade with a San Jose dealership. It's a base model 2011, four door, manual, in black. I got it through Volkswagen of Oakland. The purchase experience was friendly after we got past the fact I was getting a steal of a deal through  Once the salesman agreed to the price on the phone, originally negotiated by another salesman on leave, he took a day to get the car in stock for me. I was flexible with my color choice, allowing for red, white or black. I honestly didn't care, but I definitely didn't like the grey and blue. My salesman was J.D. Livesay, if you want to try to replicate my excellent experience.

As a side note, my saleman at Volkswagen of Oakland taught me how to drive stick on my 1997 Jetta. Talk about a great way to cement a sale.

My main request was that they don't wash the car. Black cars, especially, tend to get permanent swirl marks when the dealerships do a quick wash and buff (this is my third black car). Granted, I'll probably detail this baby by hand once and then run it through car washes for the rest of its life, but I at least wanted those swirl marks to be my responsibility. One amusing detail of not getting the car washed was the circles on the outside of the windshield, the suction cups from when they installed it at the factory in Germany. Yes, the Golfs are made in Germany and still have higher build integrity than the Mexico made Jetta (although I owned two Jetta III's build in Puebla with few problems).

While at the dealership, after the purchase, we spoke with their tech guru, David. He was game for trying the MFSW install.  This is the multi-function steering wheel controls. He had done such an install on his own car, so although he wasn't up on the exact specifics, he was willing to try, which is really all you can ask for. Multi function buttons were standard on the 2010, but VW cheaped out and now only offers them on the sunroof package and above on the 2011. I really want the buttons, since they control the stereo, future NAV unit and trip computer, but I don't want to spend a couple grand to get them. Even if the MSFW costs me a grand, I would rather have exactly what I want.

So how do I like it? Comparing it to my Mazda 6 Sportwagon, the most obvious thing is how there's power all over the rev band. It handles much better too, albeit with a slightly stiffer ride due to a shorter wheelbase and 18" wheels. It's made up by the fact that the seats are so darn good [edit: on day two my back is sore, which tells me I need to adjust them -- a good sign]. It shifts smoothly, lightly and accurately. I would compare the handling to my old BMW 330i (at least without pushing the GTI too hard) but without the whiplash from the extremely annoying manual BMW transmission.

There are a few things that caught me by surprise. It came standard with Sirius satellite radio installed and working. I'm not sure how long the subscription is for. Since I'm upgrading the head unit, I'm not too interested in that. The Bluetooth seems difficult to configure for my phone but I have it kind of working. There's no climate control, which I knew about, yet seems sort of missing based on how upscale the interior feels. My wife even noticed the premium interior, so it must be true. We're trying to get the rear center headrest to work with our car seat without much luck.  There are some annoying "VAGCOM" configurations, like the auto locking, which is very kid unfriendly. The honking of the horn when you lock the doors is annoying. I think these things are probably easy to re-configure. My 6 year old son has a new phrase he's picked up from me: "It's a German thing." At least that's what he's saying when he's not praising the GTI.


  1. Your black car appears to photograph as blue, just like my green car does.

    It will probably prove worth your while to pick up an interface cable and software to hook up a laptop - with the right software, you can tweak a huge amount of things to an astounding degree. The honking, the locking, and so on are easy.

    Agreed on the sunroof. I dislike their effects on headroom, although it is handy to have one on a dark car that I can crack if I have to leave it in the sun.

    And I really don't like those wheels. They look tacky to me. Of course, I'm the guy who got alloy wheels that are designed to look like the stock plastic wheel trims...

  2. The wheels are a bit too "boy racer" for me as well. Luckily I don't care a lot. If I put my mind to it, I bet I could find someone who wants to do a trade for something more conservative. I bet you would have hated it in red!

    I may get the dealership to do a one time VCDS change for the various options. The software/cable is $250 and I'll likely not use it again. The options:

    * Auto Unlock Doors – when the vehicle is turned off, the doors will automatically unlock. WANT

    * Comfort Operation via Remote Control active – allows the remote keyfob to roll down the windows by holding UNLOCK and roll up the windows holding LOCK. WANT

    * Stop horn from beeping with locking of car. WANT

    Link for my own use later:

    Thanks Silas.