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New Daily: Mazda to VW

apoctank

Member
Joined
September 2, 2020
Messages
49
Reaction score
37
City, State
Pacifica, CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
06 Limited, 94 Sport
Preface: I meant for this to be a quick post but it basically turned into a love letter to my old car and a play by play of my car shopping experience.

After 8 years and almost 100k miles I finally sold my first car, a 2010 Mazda 3. It was a hard decision, but it had been having a lot of mechanical problems for a while, and I didn't have the motivation to fix it while also working on my 2 explorers. While it did a lot of things well, it didn't do any one thing great. The fuel economy was in the high 20s if I drove it nicely, which is pretty bad for a small car that makes 167hp at the crank. The biggest redeeming quality was how it drove. It wasn't terribly fast, and it didn't have a ton of grip in the corners, but the way it responded to my inputs was unlike anything I've driven to date. Weight transfer, steering feel, throttle response, even the 5 speed auto was decently responsive(though definitely the dynamic weak point of the car). I've driven plenty of cars with more power and more grip, but I've never been able to connect with a car the way I did my Mazda. Maybe that has something to do with being able to put 100k miles on it, but it really made me a believer in Mazda's whole "horse and rider as one" marketing strategy.

When I started searching for cars, I was mainly looking at hybrids. I will be moving soon and am looking at a 150 mile round trip commute every day, so mpgs and comfort were my priorities, specifically 40+ mpg, cooled seats, and a soft ride. I test drove a few hybrids and efficient gas cars, and was honestly pretty impressed. They weren't close to being as fun to drive as my Mazda but they weren't the soulless shitboxes I was expecting. The day I bought my new car I made an appointment at Carmax to check out a Fusion Energi Titanium. The salesman was getting ready to set up a test drive but I decided to walk the lot to see what they had. We were looking at Camrys, Accords, Priuses, the usual fare, and we came upon a Kia Niro hybrid that checked all my boxes. My girlfriend and I sat in it for a while and told the salesman we wanted to test drive this one. As we were heading back to the store a black VW GTI caught my eye. It didn't remotely fit the criteria I had had in mind, but something told me to try it out. I snapped a pic of the window sticker and told the salesman I wanted to try this one too.

While the Kia wasn't exactly an exhilarating car to drive, it was much better than I expected. I found a nice stretch of road with a few s curves of varying radii. The electric motor gave it a nice shove off the line and when cornering hard, it was easy to keep it at the limit without either losing control or slowing down too much. I was amazed by how well it responded to throttle lift off, threshold breaking, and steering inputs at the limit, it was even vaguely reminiscent of my Mazda. On top of all that it was much more high tech, comfortable, and efficient than my old car(it got 38 mpg while I was wringing it's neck). Heading back to Carmax I really thought I was going to buy it that same day.

The GTI was already waiting for me when I got back, so I switched cars and took off for the same road I drove the Kia on. I knew full well that it would be more fun than the other cars but I was really blown away. Having driven Hellcats, Teslas, and other DUMB fast cars, the straight line acceleration wasn't shocking but still pretty fun, but I couldn't believe how this thing gripped in the corners, and was especially blown away by how it was able to accelerate out of the corner. A FWD car has no business pulling so hard through the end of a corner, no doubt owing to the now standard LSD. After almost pasting my girlfriend's lunch all over the plaid cloth seats(which are amazing by the way, they have the perfect amount of bolstering for a mix of spirited driving and long trips, they breath well to be comfortable on hot days and are heated for cold days, and of course look fantastic) I drove back to the store, found the salesman, and told him not to bother with the Ford, which it turns out was completely dead, so perhaps I dodged a bullet.

It's only been a few days, but I'm still blown away every time I drive this thing, not just by the performance but how comfortable and refined it can be when driven gently, but I guess that's the whole point of the GTI. Now I don't want to put too many commute miles on it because it's so nice.

It's funny, I actually failed completely in my original objectives. I wanted an efficient, comfortable, well equipped commuter car. The GTI is none of these things, at least not as much as the cars I was looking at. I didn't want to get a jack of all trades master of none vehicle like my Mazda was. The GTI is exactly this, just turned up to 11. I have to say though, this is the best failure I've ever made in my life!
 




apoctank

Member
Joined
September 2, 2020
Messages
49
Reaction score
37
City, State
Pacifica, CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
06 Limited, 94 Sport
Trying to attach photos
 




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