Monday, November 21, 2011

101 Road Trip

We drove the GTI down to Southern California over two days. Our first stop was in San Francisco for breakfast (photo above - my wife has a handicapped placard, in case you were wondering exactly what kind of jackass I am) and then we took the 280 to the 101 for most of the way down. We spent the night in San Luis Obispo (great food at Mo's Smokehouse Barbecue) and then drove into Orange County after another stop at my favorite restaurant in the world, Philippes. Lamb French dip sandwich, pickled beats and a banana cream pie that was straight out of the 19th Century. But I digress.

What you want to know is how did the car do? My main pre occupation as we left was the annoying, and new for November, passenger side B-pillar rattle. It's infamous on the forums at this point and can be caused by anything from a loose seat belt assembly to the will of the gods. My wife put a rattling marble game in the side pocket in a kind of shamanistic sympathetic magic move (or maybe just to annoy me). Regardless, the rattle disappeared later in the day. More than likely it was the change in humidity as we approached a pretty big storm, or maybe just the rough roads through San Jose. Driving in the storm turned out to be instructive in how this car handles itself.

It's sure footed, which was a nice surprise. It is pretty heavy, which plays a part in this. The car came with the Pirelli P-Zero Nero all season tires, which helped. Not only did the GTI feel planted and resisted wind buffeting, but the smooth power delivery of the turbo kept me from having to see a flashing traction control light as I later navigated some crazy stop and go LA traffic. I also learned the GTI has speed sensing windshield wipers. I've seen rain in this car, but this storm was in my top five ever.

When stopped in traffic, the wipers slow down and then speed up again when the car speeds up. Clever and unexpected, especially after all the forum whining about not having rain sensing wipers (they want to delete this option, of course). I've had rain sensing wipers on a BMW and it's not something I cared for. I'm the kind of guy who mixes his own washer fluid and wipes down his car with microfiber towels. Do you think I want the car deciding when to wipe my windows? As we know, for every feature, there's a jackass willing to spend a fortune to reverse it, even if it's better than what came before.

Another side note is the ridiculous way the rain water channels into the car when you open the doors. It's the absence of that kind of design that you notice on more up market cars, like BMWs. Hey, look at that! The car is trying to keep me dry! Combined with a cloth interior, water streaming into your car might raise your blood pressure a bit. Then again, I love the rubber, honeycomb floor mats the dealer extorted me into buying. Great for puddles of water (I sense some compensation for a design flaw).

I have to say I'm sore from the drive, but it's mostly from the increased stress from driving through the storm. Plus I'm in horrible physical shape right now. I've done this same drive before in the dry without even noticing it physically. I look forward to the drive back later this week, hopefully in the dry, if the weather holds.

Fuel Economy was around 29MPG at 8,500 miles on the odometer.


  1. Just about any modern design channels water in if it's wet. Gutters are Drag, which is Bad, so we must get rid of them!