I had been on the lookout for an automatic hatchback for some relief in dense traffic and slow moving pace of the city that seems to be getting worse day by day. I considered many options...here is how the process of choosing a car began:
1. Honda Brio - this was the automatic of choice. Before I decided on the TSI I had shortlisted the Brio with its ample space, convenience and great pricing. Some dealers had the defunct S model which was quite a good value for money proposition with lots of features thrown in.
2. Hyundai i10 - An upright sitting position was the most appealing aspect of this car but not much else. A friend who owned i10 automatic advised me against buying the i10 after doing a test drive of the Brio. So I had pretty much decided on the Brio...
3. The automatic Micra had just launched when I was finalizing the GT TSI. But it didn't seem attractive enough with a slower CVT and an unconventional design that I didn't quite like.
4. Others like the Ritz AX didn't come into the picture - more so because after owning many of their cars over several years I just want a change going ahead. I 'quit' buying Marutis some years ago with their tin-like bodies and familiar rattles...(not to underscore their amazing service network, extreme reliability and the option of cheap parts everywhere)
When I went for the test drive of the GT TSI I could make out that it stands apart. The eager hi-rev 1.2 TSI engine is an excellent performance engine. It does not seem to waste a single ounce of energy and the DSG gerabox that is couple with it is flawless and smooth. Midrange torque and fuel efficiency were good when I did the test drive. The angry growl in the higher revs sounds too good and the turbo kicked in from as low as 1400 rpm. The sales rep egged me on when we reached the main road from the service lane and I must say I reached 0 to 100 in the quickest time in my whole life - must have been a few eventful seconds and the cars that had just overtaken me on the main road were a small blip on the rear view mirror. In these 2-3 minutes the choice was made between the chubby and soft Brio and the growling, superfast GT TSI!
I liked the inside of the car and seating position and the clean European design is not too 'new-age' or fluidic like the hype in other cars. The smoked headlamps and the sleek look give it a slightly distinct look although I have heard many crib about the lack of stickers and various paraphernalia that they associate with racing cars. This car is not to race but to give you a smooth convenient drive in crowded cities. If you are one of those foolish 'city road racers' spare some money and go to the Greater Noida racetrack where they give you an hour to race your car to your hearts content. But don't endanger lives on the road even if yours is not precious.
GT TSI is available in black, white and red. I chose red since it stands out and black and white is well just black and white and not 'colour' for me! Booking experience was fine and nothing untoward happened at all like I see in many places on the net. Volkswagen staff are very well trained and efficient irrespective of which dealership you go to. By the way I made trips to various dealers just for the sake of multiple test rides! Price ex-showroom was I think Rs 7.99 plus all the usual. Didn't get anything free not even mats and I bought everything that is essential from outside. Don't believe in fancy mats and magic or fluffy carpets so nothing to write about them.
The dashboard is simple but elegant. No curvatures or ultra modern streaks like some other cars but at the same time gives you everything you need - and I like that. When you are in drive mode the display shows the gear that you are in besides D and S for the 2 drive modes and N, P and R for neutral, parking and reverse respectively. Standard stuff.
What is not standard stuff is the Sports mode when you drive it - being smaller and lighter than the bigger fast cars I think it is easily the fastest on the road as of now in India. Zero to 100 within 10 seconds is blisteringly fast - everyone will agree I'm sure. Just a small tap on the accelerator is enough to put you ahead of the cars in front of you(provided they give way in time!). Overzealous Swift and Verna diesels just cannot match the pick up and those who tried were left gaping and wondering what happened!
Even the normal D mode is very quick especially when you take off from a traffic signal.
AC - The AC vents have individual controls in case the driver or the co-passenger needs to adjust it or even switch off the air flow(very useful). The AC can be run on Auto and I have run it in peak heat plus sticky humidity - it outperforms many other cars that I have been in. It cools the cabin within a couple of minutes and completely insulates you from the heat outside.
Music System - The music system has radio, CD player and provision for a 3.5 mm jack as well as USB so you can use your iPod/ iPhone or your 'pen drive' depending on wherever you store your music and use in your car. That is really good because many cars even those in higher categories may not provide one or the other. With Bluetooth you can pair your phone and speak to someone on the phone while you drive. The 4 speakers give an excellent output and unlike most other manufacturers it seems VW has put decent speakers along with the music system. I have had to change the speakers for all previous cars but I think this one seems good enough.
Steering wheel - The wheel is nice to hold and has controls for music and phone. However when you want to change the radio station and press on the left or right button it starts scanning but does not move to the station that you have programmed. Although it picks up the next station in a couple of seconds I haven't figured out whether I have missed something or it is designed that way. You can adjust height and reach which again is a plus because some cars don't offer both.
The horn is loud and the old Ambassador-like and people really move when they hear it. The only inconvenient part is that you have to reach out with one hand and press with some force since if you reach out with one of your fingers while driving some might find it too hard to press. European style because in Europe you don't have to blow the horn, hardly ever actually whereas in India not blowing the horn frequently when needed may prove fatal because people seem to prefer being run down than move out of the way.
The chrome touch on the spoke of the steering wheel is a classy touch(see pic).