With the lease on the MKVI GTI ending in August we've been on the hunt for my wife's replacement car for a while now. We've been very happy with the GTI but replacing it with another GTI was sort of a last resort just because my wife really wanted something different. Here is the day we picked up the GTI back in '13
after trading in our '02.5 Jetta 1.8t GLS.
The Jetta was the first car we bought together, a year or so after we got married, and she drove it for 11 years. We took that car everywhere (at least until we replaced my 2001 Saturn SC2 in '12
) and it had almost 100k miles when we finally got rid of it. It was sad to see it go but it was getting more expensive to maintain and it was just time to get something new.
Because my wife drives so little and we just did not have a good experience with long-term VW ownership we decided to lease the GTI instead of buy it. It was our first time leasing a car and, all told, it worked out pretty well for it.
Around this time last year we were actually 2nd on the waiting list (behind someone from VW HQ) at our local VW dealer for the upcoming 2016 R but my wife decided that she just couldn't get used to the idea of owning a car with leather seats. She's been a vegetarian for 23 years and doesn't own anything made out of leather. We had then been looking at the M235i for a while since BMW is one of the few manufacturers that still offer a non-leather interior in a nicer car. We were all but ready to order this configuration in June or July once the end-of-year lease incentives got really good:
But recently after some more thought we really decided that it wouldn't be a good idea for us to give up the convenience and practicality of 4 doors. So, we started looking again. We swung by the Subaru dealer where we bought the STI and have become really friendly with the sales manager there. We test drove a CVT WRX since you can get cloth seats with the CVT in the premium trim. Honestly, it was awful. It was like driving my old 2.5i CVT-equipped Outback. The car was slow and lethargic. Bleh. But the reality finally kind of sunk in that we were not going to find a car that she liked that didn't have a leather interior. Obviously a S trim GTI was an option but you can't get a sunroof and we felt she shouldn't end up in less of a car than she already had. If she had to settle for something lower spec it should at least be as good as her current car. At this point the Golf R was back on our radar.
After we left the Subaru dealer we dropped in to the local VW dealer on a whim and they had a CPO Tornado Red '15 R with DSG and the DCC/Nav package parked out front.
(Ross took this pic of the same car
, apparently we both drove it the same weekend.)
Our sales guy (who we leased the GTI from) let us rip it around up and down Rt 28. Honestly, the car was pretty amazing and we decided right there that an R would be her next car. We didn't buy the CPO one because, even though it only had 8k miles, it was a HQ car which they took around to shows and you could tell a lot of asses had sat in that car. Also, she really wanted CarPlay and the '15 was only like $2k off MSRP. Our sales guy put us on the backup list since all their incoming cars were already spoken for. Our preference was a base car in Limestone then Tornado Red then Oryx. We would also settle for a DCC/Nav car, just no blue or black and no 6MT.
When we got home that evening I hopped onto Autotrader to see what was actually available within a few hours of driving and, low and behold, a dealer in Rockville had a 2016 DSG base in Tornado Red. The only new '16 within 170 miles and it was exactly what we were looking for. I emailed them first thing Sunday morning to confirm the car was still there and we went straight to Carmax to get an appraisal for the GTI. While at CarMax I called and confirmed, again, the car was there and the salesman who I spoke to said it would be here when we got there.
When we pulled in they had it parked right out front, ready to go. I guess they knew we were serious since we drove 40+ minutes so they offered us a test drive but we declined. We had just driven the '15 the day before so we knew what to expect and I didn't want to put unnecessary miles on their car in case we didn't buy it.
We talked numbers (we ended up getting it for about $800 under MSRP), left them a check and said we'd be back on Tuesday to buy it. On Tuesday morning we walked in and the salesman immediately came up to us and said that he found a scratch on the car that we missed the day before and he had already cleared it with the manager to have it fixed on their dime. I thought that was really thoughful of him. :thumbup:
So now we just had a bunch of papers to sign. Before we started we asked if they would be willing to swap the wheels/tires between the R and GTI since we really didn't like the Cadiz wheels. It took our sales guy a bit of back and forth to finally communicate to the tech that we didn't want the tires swapped, that we wanted them to literally take the wheels and tires off of the GTI and put them on the R. Our sales man had told us that it would be $20 for them to do it. I kind of just rolled my eyes and agreed to it but they ended up voluntarily taking care of it for us without a charge.
I also asked about trading the R Mojo Mats that came with the car for a pair of the Golf All-weather mats. Turned out they had a Golf wagon on the showroom floor that had a set in the trunk. Our salesman just grabbed the AW mats and threw them in our trunk, also leaving us with the Mojo Mats.
Our first stop on the way home was to Carmax to sell them the GTI.
I have to say, for some reason, the Cadiz wheels actually look good on the MKVI.
Our next, and last, stop before we got home was grabbing some Chinese take-out since we hadn't eaten all day.
At home in it's new spot.
We've had the car for a few weeks and the wife is getting used to driving it. I've driven it once or twice on the weekend and honestly it is a pretty fantastic car. It's super easy to drive and very civilized. Personally I think it's a little too civilized, which is something I noted when we first drove the MKVII GTI. The new GTI felt a bit more sterile than our MKVI which I think also carried over to the Golf R. To me, I really think the STI is the more fun car to drive as a result. It's a bit edgier and, overall, it just feels like more of an event every time I fire it up. Now that doesn't mean I don't like driving the Golf R, I really do, and it will be great as our new traveling and weekend car.