Saturday, January 6, 2007

My Darling

Okay, this started out as a quick post to get my car's picture up, but then the emotions started flowing, and it's turned into a full-scale love letter.

This is my lovely GTI VR6. It seems to be pretty rare. I've seen GTIs all over the road, but never another gray VR6. (Notice the Ford Racing plate as an homage to those who pay my checks.) I did happen to come across one on the web in this excellent review: American journalists have rarely given the VR6 the time of day, so I'm very much appreciative of the attention from Canada's Mr. Rothwell.

I do have a few minor criticisms of the car, so I'll get them out of the way quickly. First, the standard-issue rubber is a set of Michelin Pilot HX MXM4s, which are some of the worst tires in the category. My car was sloppier in the snow than cars I'd driven in the past, but like many drivers I chalked it up to the vehicle. Upon further research on, I found out that these are the lowest rated tires in the segment. I've since gotten my hands on some ContiExtreme Contacts, and I'm very pleased.

Also, there's the fact that my car is a bit outclassed on the autocross course for a few reasons. First, contrary to popular belief, the torsion bar rear suspension is not a true independent. But the big handicap is the weight distribution. I put it up on a scale and 65 percent of mass was over the front wheels. Consiquently, it plows like a mofo in high speed corners.

I run in D stock, against BMW 3s, Infiniti G35s and Acura Integra Type Rs. Not a pretty sight.

But I wouldn't trade my car for any other (in its price range...let's not get carried away). As I've said, I work for Ford's ad agency, and there's constant pressure to swap for something from the Ford stable, particularly a Blue Oval product. I've considered it, but I'll tell you exactly why I've passed.

There is no other car in America that combines a small C-segment chassis with a V6 engine at a non-luxury price. Not even VW makes one anymore. Sure, there are turbo fours all over the place. The MazdaSpeed3 and new GTI 2.0T are sweet rides. But I've stepped from a turbo four to a V6, and let me tell you, there's no comparison.

Sure, they say "180% of the torque is available from 6 rpm" and all that, but I've driven the new GTI, and it is not immune from lag. There is nothing like the immediate fountain of torque, nor the sound, that you get from a beautifully tuned six. And let me tell you my VR6 is beautifully tuned. The growl that issues from its throat when the tach passes 2500 rpm...addictive.

I also want to mention that outside of autocross courses that are specifically set up to test extreme handling limits, this car is a gem of a dancer. It knows its shortcomings, and if you don't overstep them, the handling is quite rewarding.

There are many other things that I love about my car, but I can see that this post has already overstayed its welcome, so I'll save them for another day. Until then, to the automakers of the world: Give six a chance.

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Anonymous said...

Interesting note: VW actually stands for Volkswagen, which is german for happy travels.

Markus said...

That is a very nice car indeed. Funny enough, last year I was part of the Ford Racing family as well, despite not having a Ford.

Kevin said...

Cool VW. I like it, especially the stripes.

I autocross my Saab in ST1 (G Stock multiplier). It's not the best car for that task, but it's a lot of fun.