By Mark MacLaughlin, Online Experience Manager
Being in the automotive industry the last seven years or so, I’ve had the opportunity to drive almost every car you can imagine. In fact, it’s hard for me to come up with a make or model I haven’t driven. From a 700+ horsepower Werks modified Porsche to a cloth-top Smart car, I’ve been able to experience the very best and the very worst. As my colleague Maraya conveyed in her recent review, our profession tends to take some of the excitement out of a vehicle purchase.
I bought my 2012 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn in March of 2012. I’d like to tell you that I made the purchase for all the more practical reasons Maraya stated in her review. I’d like to tell you that the great fuel mileage, safety features and economics of the matter, steered my choice. However, that would all be a total lie. Truth is, I saw it sitting on our lot shimmering in Deep Black Pearl Effect paint, and I knew I had to have it. Once I sat in those bolstered leather seats and heard the note of that 2.0T, I was already running the numbers in my head. Was that glorious flat-bottom wheel with it’s contrast stitching worth doubling my existing lease payment and going to a purchase? YES…yes it was. At around $30,000, it was still about half the price of the car it felt most similar to; the BMW M3. A steal I tell you…a steal!
45,341 miles later, I will tell you that buying this car has been the most rewarding vehicle purchase I have ever made. It has a few minor tweaks that make it a little different than your normal MKVI. H&R Sport Springs were installed when it was new, and after all my warranty was chewed up, I did make a change under the hood to squeeze out a little more horsepower and torque. It looks like a car that has seen some commuter service time. A few dings on the hood, and a couple of scuffs on the rear bumper (kids, please don’t text and drive). After all this time, I still LOVE driving the car. In fact, even when I move onto something newer, this GTI will still remain in my driveway. I’ve heard way too many stories of people who gave up on the car they love, only to have it haunt them the remainder of their days. Besides, my wife would kill me if I got rid of it and it’s never (knock on wood) given me any trouble.
If you follow along with our Facebook Page, this particular car won’t be new to you. I’ve had an unhealthy obsession with seeing what (or how much of something) I can fit into the hatch for years. A 55-inch TV still in the box, nine sets of golf clubs, 22 bags of mulch, outside seating…I’ve done it all. It is the most versatile car I have ever owned. Need it to act like a pick-up truck Saturday morning, then race over to Lauderdale for a night away with four friends? No problem! It’s the navy blazer of cars…good for any occasion. The GTI is surprisingly quick and gets me about 31MPG on my mostly highway commute. I really couldn’t ask for much more…well, except for maybe a new set of wheels. Hopefully more on that to come soon…
As we launch this new section of reviews, I hope that you will follow along with us. It is our goal to give you a different look at what ownership of a Volkswagen entails; over many months or even several years. We’ll be adding some other models and reviewers in the near future, as well as adding some videos and first time drives of our newer models. If you’d like to share your story, we’d love to hear it! Just drop us a line at info@vwofnaples.
Purchase Date: 3/28/12
Last Fuel Tank Avg: 31MPG
VW Service: Scheduled Maintenance Thru 40,000 miles, Four New Tires
Purchasing a car for the first time can be a daunting decision…especially when you work for a dealership. You become incredibly picky about what you want. You learn what you really like, what you’re willing to do without and what’s within your budget. I went from owning a 1995 Toyota Camry to a 2015 Volkswagen Golf, and these two vehicles cannot be compared. In fact, they aren’t even in the same class, let alone from the same decade. My “first” car wasn’t really a decision I made or paid for, but I took care of it for five years and finally felt the need to get my own real “first” car. I was also over the moon about finally putting my UCF alumni plate on a car I was actually proud to show off.
Introducing Skylar (of course she’s going to have a name!), a stunning 2015 Volkswagen Golf SE TSI with a blue silk exterior and a beige leatherette interior. Having a beige interior was really important to me, and our management went out of their way to make sure I got the car of my dreams (It was the only one in the state with the color combo I wanted). One of the features that really drew me to this car, were some great interior changes from the previous generation. Volkswagen stepped up and put a great black or beige leatherette, wrapped the re-worked steering wheel in great feeling leather, and completely re-designed the center stack. This made the interior more appealing because it was easier to clean, more comfortable and sharper-looking. As far as the exterior color goes and how I made that decision…well just look at it! To me, it’s the most gorgeous color. The body of the Golf changed for the better; it’s sharper, wider, longer and lower than the previous generation. Despite the additional length and width, the 2015 is lighter and more fuel efficient. It wins in so many different categories!
I was a little torn between getting the trim level below the SE (the S with Sunroof) but I felt the slight price change for more than “just a few” additional features made it worth it. The SE comes with additional features from heated seats, halogen reflector lens fog lights with low-speed corner-illuminating, a rear-view camera, a panoramic sunroof, 17″ Madrid alloy wheels and a Fender premium audio system. Even though it was a jump in price I knew in the future I would still be utilizing these features and they would not become “obsolete” options. The rear-view camera that comes equipped with my Golf gives me comfort to see what I won’t always catch, even though I’m driving a smaller vehicle as opposed to a large SUV. This further added to the appeal of the SE. Heated seats are great for the cold months, the panoramic roof is exceptional during the cooler times and getting to listen to my music through a Fender audio system are one of the many things I added to my “pro” list. I’m not very picky when it comes to wheels but out of all the trims, even the SEL, the 17” Madrid alloy wheels were the best looking to me and a happy medium in size. After going back and forth, I decided these things added together would make the car worth it after all. If I’m going to be signing a check for this car every month I better love what I’m driving, right?
I’ve driven most of the vehicles this dealership has in inventory, but what I’ve never done is driven these vehicles at night. I was delightfully surprised by what this car looks like and drives like after the sun goes down. The interior illuminates softly with above lighting, each source of light pointed directly on each seat. It’s a nice, welcoming color and gives the interior an upscale feel. When taking turns I was surprised by how quickly the low-speed corner illuminating feature operated. It made taking turns that more convenient and easy to see. Night-time driving is my favorite for many reasons…from less traffic and excellent headlight reach, to the glow of soft-white illuminated controls.
I drove 2015 Golfs many times before my actual purchase, so I was well aware of how it drove. Great pick-up, smooth, takes turns effortlessly, quiet cabin, easy to handle with comfortable seating. It has enough horsepower to easily speed up and get you where you need to go, but not too much horsepower you feel intimidated. The cabin is spacious, with plenty of leg room and generous trunk space. The hidden handle to open the hatch is a great feature which serves a purpose without taking away “the look” from the Golf. All you have to do to open the trunk is simply press the Volkswagen Emblem on the back, it flips in and opens. This emblem also serves for the rear view cameras place; when you shift into reverse the camera pops out and returns when you switch gears. It’s a neat little feature that always impresses.
All in all, I’ve really enjoyed my first month with my 2015 Golf SE (Skylar)! I haven’t had anything that made me dislike the car. I had some initial hesitation about making the actual decision since it was my first major purchase. Since then I haven’t regretted it! It’s a vehicle I plan on keeping for a while. As long as I take care of it that’s what matters; because it’s the owner that really makes or breaks a vehicle.
Purchase Date: 9/06/14
Estimated MPG: 33 MPG