GTI Test Drive

Don't worry. I am not about to jump ship and buy a VW. But after Motoringfile posted a review of the MKV Golf GTI (w/DSG) recently, I decided to see for myself what all the fuss is about. I have to say the new DSG auto manual transmission is very smooth. I would shift to the next gear I did not get the usual lag in power between gears. It reminded me of a CVT transmission where there was no noticeable shifting going on. There was plenty of push but it was held at almost a constant that it was not obvious that shifts had taken place.

Depending on what you like, this is a great feature for such a powerful engine, rated at 200 HP, but for me I was a bit turned off. I happen to like the noticeable yet smooth shifts in a regular slush box transmission as in the MCSa. When I shifted manually with the DSG I had to look at the information cluster to make sure I had indeed shifted. And it did not seem to feel much faster than my MCSa, probably due to the considerable weight that the GTI has to lug around.

As in the MCSa, there are paddles on the steering wheel, but they are a bit awkward. The right one shifts up a gear and the other shifts down, so you have to be careful shifting while turning the steering wheel. Also, in the info cluster, the gears are listed (6,5,4,3,2,1) but the paddles are assigned to move the selector in the opposite direction. For example, when in third gear, a box graphic would highlight the "3" in the info cluster. To shift down, you would have to tap the left paddle and the graphic box would move to the right to highlight the "2". An obvious fix would be to list the gears in the opposite direction (1,2,3,4,5,6) to match which paddle you would need to tap.

One of the major turn offs was the blah of the interior. There was just nothing interesting to look at inside and was simmilar to every VW interior that they produce. I did not noticed any rattles in the sunroof or anywhere else, but engine noise was very noticeable inside the cabin. Infact, at higher revs the exhaust sound was a bit obnoxious for my taste but that might be of some interest to others.

Overall, I don't think I would like to buy the GTI, even with the DSG transmission, but it did get me in there showroom for a test drive. (which is half the battle for a dealer in February). What I would be more worried about is the clever advertising that is going into the GTI campaign. MINI's ex-advertising agency is now spinning its wheels for VW and its starting to show with their new ads. The ones featuring the drivers "fast" alter ego are especially entertaining. The obscure sometimes dry humor is reminiscent of what they did with MINI before. They also produced a tounge in cheek promotional DVD featuring the "scientific research" done to learn more about the "fast" in everyone. It showcased a German accented man who asked various psychologically revealing questions about one's "fast" to a number of control subjects. One of the scenes that was especially funny was when he asked a group of people where on the human body did they think their "fast" was located. The first said in his right foot which was an expected answer. The second person gestured that his fast was located in the general vicinity of his groin as he thrusted. The look on the German guy was priceless.

With that, It seems VW has their goals set on steering some potential MINI buyers in their direction. And with the solidly built and powerful GTI and some clever advertising, they sure might do that. Hopefully people will not do this in masses and realize that MINIs are more than just horsepower ratings. They actually look good both inside and out, and they turn on a dime. I couldn't imagine driving a car without the very distinct and unique character of a MINI.


Dcmini Now Linked @ GoMotoring.com

I was doing a little lurking about the MINI world and I came across a link to my own site via the Links Section over at GoMotoring.com. Thanks for linkin' me up, Mark. Its greatly appreciated.

Be sure to check out for all your MINI related updates. Its a real time saver.

Here's an updated list of sites that have linked me up:
MINI links [GoMotoring.com]

If you linked me on your blog/site, or know of a good one and would like it to be added to my list, just click be added and send me the link.

MINI Wierdness

I decided to take MINI dee out for a spin this weekend since the weather called for dry yet cold conditions. And a couple of things happened.

First, the airbag light went on for some reason. But then after turning the engine off and restarting it, the light did not come back on. Perhaps it gets a little confused when sensing a passenger, while the passenger is still in the process of sitting.

Second, while using the key fob to unlock both doors, I saw both windows start to go down and the sun roof start to open. Turns out, after a brief time searching the forums for an explaination, its supposed to do that. I guess I held the unlock button down too long which activates the auto open feature. I never knew it was a standard feature before and now that I think about it, it would have come in handy during the summer. Oh well, I guess I get plenty of use from this feature when summer decides to come back. :-)


Rumored "Actual Video" Ipod!

The new video iPods are great but there is a few things they need to work out. For starters, the actual screen size is way too small to watch video content for more that a few minutes. The obvious solution would be to increase the screen size but the problem is the over all size and form of the ipod is very well though out and lugging anything larger would be a cumbersome or awkward. Case in point, Sony's PSP is great for watching movies but I cant see myself keeping one in my pocket. And I'm not about to start carrying a man purse anytime soon ;-)
So it seems that Apple is working on a solution to incorporate a touch-interface screen for their ipod lines. Here is a image from Apples' patent application on how something like this would work with scrolling. Also, look closely at the first image of the rumored ipod above. At first glance it looks like a regular video ipod, but the scroll wheel is actually on the screen.... Very cool. I would imagine it would be like the dvd controls on your computer set to full screen disappearing when not used.

So yet again, the issue for those on the fence becomes, do I wait or buy one now. Although this is still in the very early stages, it seems that this might be a reality sooner rather than later, most likely end of March/beginning of April. Apple is known for constantly pushing the element of design and with that comes the fact that your hardware becomes fashionably obsolete rather quickly. My 3rd gen iPod is only 2 years old, yet considered a dinosaur next to the 5th gen. After I received my iPod, the updates were numerous, including more storage, new "click wheel", color screens, video playback with large screen, and now a soon to be even larger screen with touch interface wheel.

All images borrowed from macrumors.com, from rumored touch-interface iPods, and patent gesture diagrams


DSG Auto Manual Trans

Amongst MINI owners, why is the new Golf GTI that should be hitting the street very soon getting a lot os attention? Could it be its killer good looks?... its smile factor?...its overall charm?... or perhaps its world class handling?... No, don't be silly. All of these things are hands down automatically awarded to the MINI. So why is the new GTI possibly a worthy adversary to the MINI? Well, I can tell you what grabbed my attention being a MCSa owner, the available auto manual transmission.It seems to be our nature as MINI owners to tweak and fiddle with things to improve them or make them more interesting. What would make my MINI more enjoyable would be something like the DSG. The Volkswagen Direct Shift Gearbox puts an additional £1,260 ($2,200) on the price but that's not too much different that the extra $1350 I paid for the auto in the MCS.Although I am satisfied with the performance of the automatic transmission in my MINI, there is always room for improvement. Its very exciting to hear something like this will be widely available in a car that is comparable to a MINI. I am also hopeful for improvements on gas milage as the current auto tranny is a bit inefficient. Without the actual torque converter, perhaps similar figures can be achieved as with the MCS manual transmission.

In other news, they are still working on making the MCSa JCW available for the US market. More on that here from Motoringfile

Here's a Review of the MKV Golf GTI (w/DSG) from Motoringfile