THE SELL: A screamingly fun sports car masquerading as a functional commuter. THE TEST: On empty interstates and crowded streets alike, the GTI drove like a cavernous luxury sports car, thanks to a silky-smooth two-liter turbo engine and precise German manufacturing inside (read: silent with no rattles). Yet its taut steering and stiff suspension made it more like a sportster on twisting roads. Being able to easily—and comfortably—sit my six-two frame in the backseat simply blew my mind. Plus, my test car’s manual transmission delivered 31 mpg on the freeway and over mountain passes. THE VERDICT: Truly impressive combo of sports-car performance, fuel economy, value, and, in its four-door iteration ($24,295), family friendliness. 21 mpg city/31 hwy
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