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GuyPGuyP Posts: 50
edited March 2014 in Volkswagen
Are there any GTI owners out there?

Well, I recently purchased a 1997 2.0L GTI
for about $15,500. What do you think?

I would like to hear some comments on this car
from owners or anyone else who has interest in
this hothatch.

Great features about this hatchback:
1)Handling (very fun to drive)
3)Speedy car and stable at 80+ mph
4)Exterior/interior styling
5)Great warranties
6)Sips fuel
7)Looks small from outside, very roomy inside

For cars in this class and price range the 2.0L
GTI is a great buy for those who want more than
just practicality and reliability. The GTI VR6
I consider to be beyond this class and price range
because it hovers around $20,000. Now for that
amount of money there are many more cars out there
to consider. Hands down, the VR6 hothatch is a
super idea made into a reality, but I don't think
I can justify buying a hatchback in the $20,000

An immediate inquiry I have is pertaining to the
aftermarket computer chips that replace the stock
chips if one desires a bit more torque and hp.
Does anyone have any comments on this, and is
anyone familiar with Autothority chips?

I will be posting more technical topics in the
future... GuyP


  • tacotaco Posts: 1
    I'm also interesting in data on the GTI, specifically reliability of the VR6 model. VWs have a long-standing reputation for unreliability, thus the 100,000 mi powertrain warranty. Can a recent (94/95) GTI owner confirm VW's improvement in quality?
  • I own a '97 GTI 2.0. I bought it because it basically met my requirements for being inexpensive and fun to drive. One more thing, it came with ABS, a de-riguer requirement. It currently has about 20,000 miles. So far, it's been quite reliable to my own dismay. Only problem I have had is that when the moonroof goes into tilt, it makes a bit of grinding noise. It's directly affected by outside temperature. A dealer serviced it a number of times, but the sound returns occasionally. Since it does not seem to affect the way the moonroof works, I decided not to worry about it. Only thing I don't like about the car is that it did not have power windows and mirrors as options. I could live without the power mirrors but I sure would like the convenience of having power windows.

    In terms of realiability, it so far has been better than expected.
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    I have the same occurrence with the moonroof in my
    '97 2.0L GTI as well, but it's not so bad. I have
    had no problems with the car so far and I'm quite
    happy with the things I get for what I paid for.
    How did you run up 20K with your car? I only have
    about 5K since this June. The only glitch that my
    car has is that the alarm 'sometimes' goes off when
    I open the hatch with the key. This is not supposed
    to happen. Does this sort of thing happen to you?

    Have you seen the the shift knob for the '98 GTIs?
    It's a golf ball again, but with the GTI logo and
    the gear symbols.

    Are you planning on modifying your car in the future?
    What have you heard about the Autothority chip and
    how it affects the 10-yr warranty? How familiar are
    you with suspension modifications on this car?
  • GuyP:

    I have 20,000+ miles on my '97 GTI 2.0 because I have had the car since Nov. 96. I drive about 1,500 miles a month for work and leisure. I also enjoy driving.

    The "alarm" problem you have described, yes, I have experienced it myself. As you said it only seems to happen when you try to open the hatch. Try not to remove the key so abruptly from the lock once you have unlocked the hatch. You need to give it a few seconds before removing the key.

    I do like the new shift knob available in the '98 model GTI. I went to buy it from a dealer but they talked me out of buying it because it costs over $200.00. So I bought a MOMO boot with red stitching and a MOMO short anatomic briarwood shift knob from New Dimensions. However, I intend to purchase the new hand brake boot because it has the red stitching.

    As far as modifying the car goes, I am going to wait a little while. I am not sure how long I want to hold on to the current GTI. I like the new PASSAT and I would like to consider the new A4 GTI coming out in the Fall of 98. Like I said before I really want the power windows.

    I believe if you modified the engine management system by putting in an after-market chip, you would void the warranty. You might be better off spending the money on suspension upgrade. Maybe add a strut tower bar, etc. I subscribe to European Car, and it talks a lot about what you can do with the GTI. You might want to check it out.
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    Thanks for the tips. I agree about the mods. In
    the fews days that have passed since I last wrote,
    I've decided that the chip is quite risky.
    Suspension upgrades would be my best bet. I
    could use some more handling and more grip on this
    car. I just don't like the idea of messing around
    with the suspension setup and alignment. I still
    need to do some research on the exact effects of
    springs, shocks, sway bars, larger wheels, and
    tires. I hear many conflicting theories from
    various "experienced people".

    I don't mind not having power windows. I think,
    in a sick kind of way, that they actually give the
    car some character and naturalness. Plus, if the
    electrical system goes one day, you might be outta
    luck trying to close your window when that T-storm
    starts rolling across. Who knows...VW has some
    weird electrical connections, and we've both
    experienced that already.

    I don't know about the A4 GTI. I'd have to go test
    drive it, but my first impression is that I like our
    model better just b/c it is smaller, less ovoid,
    as most cars these days are steering towards round-
    ness, and it doesn't have the same chassis, but is
    replaced by the audi's. We'll have to see the figures
    when the car does come out.

    As for the new Passat, I test drove it and it did
    not impress me nearly as much as the previous
    VR6 version. The interior and feel of the car has
    become less German and more Japanese. Wait 'til
    the V6 version comes out. So what happened to the
    VR6 badges anyway?

    Yeah, those GTI knobs are way to steep for me. I
    thought they would be under $100. I like the
    stock knobs anyway, but it would be nice to get
    away from the plastic. How easy is it to change
    the shift boot?
  • GuyP:

    I guess, I would have to wait and see how the A4 GTI would perform. I agree the new PASSAT is nice in a boring way. But I do certainly like the look of it.

    As for changing the shift boot, it is really simple. Just unscrew the shift knob and pull on the edges of the rubber boot. It will come right off.

    You should look carefully into modifying suspension because you might end up giving up a lot of ride comfort for better handling. Since I do a lot of driving I would not want my suspension to be too jarring. I am thinking about adding a strut tower brace for improved cornering, but that's all I have planned for now. I may eventually upgrade the wheels to 15".

    Let me know what you end up doing in terms of suspension upgrade.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    I've been reading a lot about the Mk 4 Golf in the English press. They are panning and praising in the same breath, although it's easy to figure out what they are saying. Basically, the new version is like every new version to come before: larger, quieter, more refined and less in touch with the road.

    If I decide to trade in my '91 CRX, I am in for a major change. The new issue of "Performance Car" (English mag), in a comparison test of 13 hatchbacks, calls it "The most GROWN UP car in the group." Doesn't sound like the GTI that I want. Boo Hoo!

    My problem is, I'm not sure I want to grow up yet. ( Just ask my wife!!! ) Maybe I'll buy an Integra Type R.

  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    Why not look at the A3 GTI or even the A1 or A2?
    The Corrado is another great choice. You should look into VWs b/c they're so much fun to drive, really. The Cabriolet is another fun car VW shells out. I agree though, the newer VWs are getting softer, as many new cars are. Driving a German car is very different than driving a Japanese car. You should try one out. Have you driven the Type-R? How is it?
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    Greetings, GuyP:

    Yes I have owned several VWs already.
    '87 Fox
    '89 Golf GL (A2)
    '96 Golf GL (A3) (current @ 15,000 miles)

    No GTIs yet, but I have tested them, Corrado too. The Corrado was my favorite, but it's difficult to find used ones. No one wants to get rid of them!!

    I am really torn between the higher quality of the later generation(s) and the ""FUN"" factor of the earlier ones.

    No I have not driven a Type R Integra, but my driving pattern seems well suited to the Banzai mode. I reverse commute 40 miles each way on Parkway, Beltway and Interstate between Wahington DC and Rockville MD.

    Average speed for morning commute is 60mph, door-to-door. Like I said, Banzai ! And no.... I am NOT an aggressive driver; I don't weave in and out of 2-3 lanes, I don't flash my lights and I don't tailgate. 80% of the traffic is going >>65mph on this route, so I'm low profile, really.

  • fozzyfozzy Posts: 6
    hello, im 16 and buying my first car, then going off to college, i really like VW's and was looking in to a 98' GTI , they are about 16,000 i was wondering if the VR6 was worth the extra 4 grand?
  • fozzyfozzy Posts: 6
    another question for any long time vw owners
    how do VW's act in the long run, drivetrain, trans, etc. i've heard bad things since the factory moved to Mexico, but no hard facts.
  • leifleif Posts: 41
    When I was sixteen I bought a 1965 Oldsmobile '98 for $100.00
    You're doing it better than me. But you really should have a slow car to keep you out of trouble.
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    I have heard no horror stories yet about the Mexican-built A3s. I know many A3 owners, and all were very satisfied with their veedubs. Plus if anything does go wrong, VW has that 10yr/100K mi powertrain warranty.

    As far as your buying decision, since you are just 16, and maybe your parents are paying, I would get the 2.0L GTI for around $16000.

    The 2.0L is a very peppy car and is well ahead of the game(other makes) i.t.o. fun. The $20K VR6 is basically the same car(build quality and ammentities) as the 2.0L but with beefed up engine and suspension. No $20K hatchbacks for me!!!!

    The engine is superb but the car is substantially heavier than the 2.0L and you can feel this. The VR6 feels a bit nose heavy and in some driving conditions the 2.0L feels more "alive" than the VR6. In my opinion, the only place that the VR6 really shines above the 2.0L GTI is on the major highways and interstates. So if you do a lot of this kaind of driving then maybe you should consider the VR6, but if not, don't bother.

    Fuel economy is naturally better with the 4-banger. Parts are more expensive for the VR6 as well.

    For me, every street light is not an invitation to a drag race. For $20K there are many more cars to consider.

    In Europe the VR6 is not badged as a true GTI. It is only in the U.S. that the VR6 is considered (wrongly) a GTI. GTIs have always been 4-cylinders with tweaked suspension, peppier engines (like a 16v), and nicer interior, over the Golf GLs. The VR6 is definitely above and beyond this class with a DOHC V6 2.8 powerplant and should only be considered as a derivative of the true GTI.
  • CooperCooper Posts: 55
    I had an '83 Rabbit L that I sold in August '87 for a GTI 16V. That car lasted 175,000 miles until the transmission gave out in September '96. I sold it to a VW mechanic for his son (he could replace the transmisison for nothing). The new golf ball shift knob is just like the old Kamei knob ... a neat idea. I now have a '97 Passat Wagen. It's like a big GTI. Just getting old, I guess. A friend replaced his beloved '83 GTI with a '96 Passat Wagen, too. Great cars. My wife was against another GTI for the standard reasons ... rear seat room, 4 doors, getting older, etc. But, I still really like the new VR6 GTIs.
  • fozzyfozzy Posts: 6
    hello all thanks for the replys ill try to respond to each of you, sorry if i dont

    as for monney i've worked and saved 10,000, legally i cant buy a new car so it will prob be financed under my parents, however technically ill be paying my dad (not to mention i have to pay insurance as well and a golf is quite practical: (as compared to below:))

    next topic: speed
    my current car is a 96' RED MITSU ECLIPSE Turbo
    (terrible insurance, even as a co-driver) so the VR6 wont really excite me, but a little kick is nice even though i cant really afford the VR6 anyway. the eclipse is a lease and the buy-out is about 12,000 so i can afford to buy it straight out from my mom (ill treat it like im buying a used car) its in great shape i took care of it since day one, not a missed check up or a scratch. in acutallity the my parents would be happy to see me in a golf vr6 (nevertheless its still to expensive)

    last, my prefrence is 4 doors so i maight get a GL
    i'll be off to college soon and flare wont really be a priority on a campus ill have more imporatnt things to think about

    thanks to all with "past experiances" that was somthing i was really concered about.
  • fozzyfozzy Posts: 6
    new question:
    what to you mean when you guys give these "serial numbers" (i guess thats what they are). what are A3's ive seen them in other messages as well.

    an earlier posted message:
    "I have heard no horror stories yet about the
    Mexican-built A3s. I know many A3 owners, and all
    were very satisfied with their veedubs. Plus if
    anything does go wrong, VW has that 10yr/100K mipowertrain warranty."

  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    The letter-number designation is brought over from Europe. It just tells you what generation VW you're talking about. For instance, an A1 would be a first-gen Golf, and the A4 would be the new fourth-gen Golf (not to be confused with the Audi A4!). Designations like Mk1, Mk2,... are used as well. Most VW owners will know this.
  • fozzyfozzy Posts: 6
    thanks alot GuyP that had me a bit confused...
    as for VW owner i hope to be one soon...
    (fingers crossed)
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    Yes, we VW people are a happy lot. I hope you'll be joining us, fozzy.
  • navratnavrat Posts: 1
    I currently own a 91 MR2 but, would like to get something a little bit bigger and something that can handle northern driving conditions (i.e. snow and ice) better. I used to own an '84' scirrocco which I loved, so I went and looked at VW's knowing they are fun cars to drive. Naturally I test drove the GTI/VR6 which was as fun to drive as my MR2 plus better performing due to the more powerful engine. Of course the only drawback was the price for this little hatch back. What other cars are out on the market in the VR6 category and What are the biggest differences between the regular GTI and the VR6? Is the VR6 really worth the extra cash?
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    You've owned a VW before so you have a flavor of what they're like. Things have changed somewhat so you should do a lot of research and test-driving b/f you buy another VW.

    If you haven't already read some of my messages posted above, you should do so b/c they will be of some help to you. Just click on "see all responses" and read #0, 2, 13, and 15 for VR6 vs. 2.0 L info.

    1) Edmund's New Car Guide will tell you what the competition is for the Golf VR6. Most of the Golf VR6's worthy competition is considerably more expensive than the VR6 itself-which is definitely nice to hear! In my opinion, a few competitors are:
    -Acura Integra GS-R
    -BMW 323is

    2) Differences between the 2.0L GTI and the Golf VR6 are posted in the above messages I mentioned earlier. Please read these. I'll recap here:
    -VR6 has bigger, more powerful engine
    (172bhp vs 115bhp).
    -VR6 has 15" vs 14" wheels, different shifter, and traction control.
    -VR6 is 200 pounds heavier.
    -VR6 has standard cruise control and power everything.

    This is basic and you should do your own research on the specifics. Either way, 2.0L or VR6, both are very well equiped for their respective classes. In terms of build quality, both are identical.

    There are many things people will say to advocate either the 2.0L or the VR6. The fact is, the VR6 is truly in another class than the 2.0L GTI.

    The 2.0L is already an amazingly fun-to-drive car with plenty of power for just about anyone. But for those who are really hooked on excessive power and handling, the VR6 might be the one. The $3500 question is, 'is it worth it?'

    Here are some quotes from independent reviews:
    -"Models with the 2.0-liter engine have adequate acceleration. It also helps that the two-valve 2.0-liter 4-cylinder produces more power at low speeds than most multi-valve engines. The result is better zip off the line and decent passing power without having to floor the throttle or downshift as often."
    -"The $16000 4-cyl. GTI also benefits from this sports suspension, a good choice for someone who wants sporty handling, but doesn't want to pay $3700 more for the VR6."
    -"The four-cylinder machine has a more civilized ride than the VR6, possibly because of differences in spring rates and shocks, but attributable in large measure to the different tire/wheel combo."
    -"As for power, the difference is major...49 percent more horses and 42 percent more torque in the six-cylinder variant."
    -"Both are governed to 118 mph...the VR6 gets to 60 about two seconds faster than the base model."
    -"Nonetheless, stirring the five gears of the four-cylinder model, I discovered the ratios are well placed to make the most of what's available."
    -"Wonderful car [VR6] for canyon carving, with power to handle urban traffic, but we don't think it's worth twenty large; unless it's compared to the BMW 318ti, at which point this VW becomes a bargain."

    That last quote about the BMW 318ti is an understatement in my opinion. The VR6 will out-perform the 318ti, 323is, and even the 4-cyl Z3...for 2/3 the price of a BMW.

    3) Bottomline:
    I would get the Golf VR6 if it costs somewhere between the high $17Ks to the low $18Ks brand new.
    (a highly unlikely rate of success to pull this one off, but possible!)

    If not, I would happily opt for the 2.0L GTI for no more than $15,500. The VR6 hatchback variant was a bit too much for me! So here I am with my 1997 2.0L regrets yet!
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    So you've owned VWs b/f? Tell me about some of your VWs and why you liked them so.
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    Hey GuyP,

    You just stole my title for "Longest Post".
    Keep up the good work.


    If you don't mind USED, look at the Corrado. It's a dream, albeit with not quite as much room in the back, unless you compare it to a Mr.2

  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    GuyP, I scribbled the second of your identical posts with my host magic, just wanted to let you know how it disappeared.

    Why do I love VWs? Well, they just fit me. I'm, well, vertically challenged, and one of the most important criteria for choosing a car is how I fit into it.

    My first VW was a Fox when they were just off the boat. I learned how to drive stick in that car -- oooooh, still gives me nightmares ;-0 so that's probably just sentimental on my part. It wasn't really "my" car (my husband drove it most of the time) but I rode in it quite a bit which gives a different kind of ownership.

    When it was time to get "my" car, I looked at several US makers (this was in 1987 so the mists of time have erased the specifics) and I kept coming back to VWs. I finally decided on the Golf and it was love from the beginning. After I swapped the tires that came with it for some with a bit more traction, I was ready to roll. It fit me and it was very convenient to have the hatchback.

    Last year, when it was time to replace my Golf, I looked at the SAAB and Honda hatchbacks. The SAAB was just too huge for me. The salesman said something about "pedal extenders" and that was enough to send me packing, despite how cool the weather channel radio feature is.

    As for the Honda, it was once again a matter of fit. When I had the seat forward enough to be comfortable reaching the gas and brake, I felt like my face was right in the windshield. Not a nice feeling, for me anyway.

    In the end, I just bought another VW Golf, sold this time by the fact that the driver's seat has a height adjustment (which my husband loves -- he is not vertically challenged) and a built-in car alarm which is nice because we live in the city. And of course, it was a VW and I guess I'm just a VW kid after all.
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    Thanks for your response and for getting rid of the duplicates I made. Hey, I have the same problem with my stock tires. I feel that they just don't give me the grip I need often times.

    My question is, should I just deal with the stock tires (Eagle GA) until they wear out or should I buy competent rubber now?
  • mznmzn Posts: 727
    There's that bnormann again ;-)

    I was just about to say the same thing and he jumped in right on time. Well, it's time the cat came out of the bag. Bnormann & Carlady are husband and wife!
  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    Thanks for the info.

    Do you think it's worth upgrading from 14" alloys to 15" on my 2.0L GTI? What kind of difference will I feel?

    I definitely agree about the tire switch but I don't want the hassle of two sets of rubber/wheels, so ideally I prefer a good, sticky all-season tire. Is the Dunlop SP Sport 8000 good?

    Have you had any experience with A3 Golfs and GTIs? I like my car as it is now, but if I ever decide to do any performance modification it would be to the suspension. Do you have any specific advice on this?
  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335

    Do you live in the DC area? Despite the occasional ice storm/blizzard, I've had good luck with tires that were not so much all-season as good in the rain. We usually have boatloads of slush to deal with, and I find that tires which are very resistant to hydroplaning in the rain perform much the same way with slush.

    In this climate, I don't see any need for separate snow tires. Now, in Northern Illinois, where I grew up, I could make a case. The flat terrain created constant drifting of the snow, so the roads were never completely clear.

    I don't have personal experience with the Dunlop SP 8000, but it looks like a derivative of the D40 M2, which was a great wet/dry tire. I am a believer in Dunlop, in general, since they were bought out by a Japanese conglomerate (Sumitomo, I believe) and they revamped their entire product and production lines with new technology. The old (middle, really) days of Dunlop being a second rate brand are gone. (Same thing with Bridgestone.) I have personal experience with the D60, which is very good, but more in the touring category, a compromise between ride, handling, noise and mud/snow rating. A great "all-around" tire, but I lean toward the sharper response and stickyness of performance tires, although they don't last as long. My personal preference has been Pirelli.

    As for a recommendation on handling upgrades, the best bang for the buck will be shock/spring upgrades. The standard shocks on the A3 are too soft and the car wallows around a bit too much. Carlady and I had an '89 A2 and now a '96 A3 and the difference is substantial. She doesn't seem to mind, but if you've been reading the posts, you probably get the picture of my driving style.

    I would recommend staying with one brand, like Neuspeed for all the components, since matching/tuning of the Mass/Spring/Damper system is the ONLY thing that matters. The only other option I would consider is going to a performance house that specializes in VWs and getting their package which may mix/match varying brands. At least they have tested and tried different combinations and you will benefit from their experimentation.

    I see a lot of ads for used shocks/struts/sway bars etc. Experimenting on your own can be very expensive and, ultimately unsatisfying, unless you are committed to a long development program and you don't mind buying 3X as many parts as you need and then selling off the bits you end up not using.

    Fortunately, there is an excellent shop in the DC area called EIP Tuning. They have had several project VWs featured in "European Car" (formerly VW & Porsche Magazine). They have a web site although I don't have it on this computer, it's on this guy's excellent links page.

    I believe you will be better served with a suspension upgrade than going to the lower profile tires. An underdamped car on stiffer tires is probably bad news.

    Stiffer sway bars would be the next step, and a shock tower brace will also help. By this time, you will be able to reap the benefits of the lower profile tires and their sharper response.

    Good luck, we'll probably meet in the waiting room at EIP Tuning some day.....

  • bnormannbnormann Posts: 335
    Guy P,

    I know VW upgraded the suspension on the GTI-VR6, beginning with the 1997 model year. It's ~ 1" lower and has stiffer springs and shocks. Do you know if they did the 2.0 liter-8 Valve GTI at the same time? I'm pretty sure the 8V GTI always had the larger front sway bar, same as the VR6.

  • GuyPGuyP Posts: 50

    Yes, I live in Falls Church as a matter of fact and we probably will meet up at one of the tuning shops in the future. I have heard of EIP but I have never been there. How are their service and reputation? Do you know of VW Sport? I went there the other day and I decided that if I were to upgrade my car's suspension I would get the Neuspeed package that includes the whole deal with Bilstein shocks, larger swaybars, springs, etc.

    Some of my friends tell me that I should just change my springs at first and let my stock struts wear out (approx. 20K mi. with lowered springs) b/f going with Bilsteins. Wouldn't it make sense to just replace everything at once so you don't have to pay for the extra labor costs in the future? What do you think? I want to upgrade b/c I definitely feel the floating on turns and bumps. I am just tentative about making that first jump. On long trips though, our present set-up is not bad in my opinion.

    As for our stock suspension grade, I am not sure if it shares the same stuff as the VR6. I know the GTI has the front and rear swaybars, but other than that I am not sure if the 2.0L GTI has different spring rates and valving. I am pretty sure that the normal Golf has a different system than the VR6. People tell me different things and I am not sure who to believe. When I bought my car I asked the sales rep. about this and he said it was no different than the normal Golf. This is precisely why I want to test drive the normal Golf and the VR6 to feel the differences.
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