The rabbit has matured with age.
Inside our top of the range tester, the Golf GTI came in leather with the GTI logo embossed on the headrest. There’s nice padding on the edges of the seats to keep the driver and front passenger firmly in place as the car turns sharply. The rest of the interior, while loaded with buttons and gadgetry, felt a little lackluster. You’ve got glossy black strips on the door panels, but the majority of the interior is covered in drab felt material, from the dash to the console to the door edges.
Obviously, there are many metal and chrome plastic bits here and there which add a nice touch to the interior, especially the red backlights across the instrument panels and buttons. Speaking of which, the main gauge cluster will show you the engine RPM and temperature on the left side, and the speed and fuel readings on the right. In the center you have a decent TFT LCD which shows you the settings, compass, media track being played and the phone listing. The panel itself shows very limited information, but I can’t blame VW for keeping distractive information to a minimum between the driver and the road.
Where you’ll see detailed information about most of the operations of the GTI is on the 6.5” resistive touchscreen in the center console. The main technical highlight of the GTI is unleashed here, in the form of GPS navigation, Radio and MP3 listings as well as phone directory. Obviously this is also the place where you can make all sorts of adjustments and settings, from the tone of the 300W DYNAUDIO 8 speaker system, to digging into directories on your iPhone to select the song you want, to selecting destination on the Navigation system.
One of the first things you’ll notice when you start using the screen is that it isn’t as responsive as a capacitive touchscreen, I don’t know whether I’m spoilt by using my iPhone 4, but the plastic resistive touchscreen on the GTI felt painfully slow. Especially given the fact that often times you’d need to use the touchscreen while driving, the resistive screen feels dangerously slow at times; a full glass-panel capacitive screen would be faster and safer.
Another pet peeve of mine is that once I connected my iPhone 4 to the Apple connector, I could only control the audio functions via the main screen, which is not only irritating to use, but also slow to browse through the multiple directories and genre, etc. What takes me 2 to 3 seconds on my iPhone 4, takes me a good 10 to 12 seconds on the sound system.
Also, the Bluetooth connection works, but only when I’m making a call or trying to use basic telephone services. So even if I unplug the iPhone 4 from the cable, the sound system would still not recognize my iPhone 4 as an external audio device via Bluetooth. The only way to listen to songs on my iPhone 4 was through the cable, which is slow, or through the AUX input, which means no charging, because as soon as I plug the cable, the iPod app on the iPhone becomes inaccessible.
These are just small things, but eventually they can make a lot of difference to the experience you have inside the GTI.