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I Recently Found a Surprising Quirk in My Volkswagen GTI

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author photo by Will Kinton December 2018

Recently, my wife and I took a road trip in my Volkswagen GTI from Richmond, Virginia, to Nashville, Tennessee to spend a week with some friends. It was a total distance of over 1,300 miles, making it the longest road trip my wife and I have undertaken to this point. The GTI swallowed the miles effortlessly, but I did notice one surprising quirk that remained hidden up until this point.

You see, Nashville is in the Central time zone and I live in the Eastern time zone, which means I had to move my clock back an hour about halfway through Tennessee. When we crossed the time zone, I noticed my phone change it's time automatically as expected -- and when I went to change the time on my GTI, I had noticed it changed automatically, too.

Yes, the newest iterations of the GTI will track where you are through the GPS for the purposes of determining what time zone you are in. That's certainly a cool feature, but this is Oversteer, and we take our quirkiness very seriously. We want a deep quirk that few will notice unless they're the type of guy to offer car manuals as bathroom reading material.

And so, here's the quirk: my car is a GTI Sport. For those who don't follow Volkswagens religiously, the Sport was a neat trim level sold in the 2017 model year that emphasized performance and driving enhancements but eschewed much of the tech and comfort features that higher trim levels had to keep costs down. In practice, that means you get cloth seats, no sunroof, manual seats and, most importantly (to this article, at least), no navigation function. In fact, you couldn't get navigation in a GTI unless you shelled out the big bucks for a top-of-the-line Autobahn trim.

Therefore, my GTI has no navigation system, but it still has a GPS signal receiver that tracks where I am on a map for the sole purpose of determining what time zone I'm in, so that it can change the clock for me when I cross that imaginary line. Furthermore, you can even go into the car's settings menu under the Time and Date section and turn off the GPS feature (as well as change from daylight saving time to standard time with a single button push, another nifty feature that's useful twice a year).

This actually gave me a bit of a man-behind-the-curtain moment when it comes to navigation systems in cars. These days, many luxury cars offer navigation as a several-thousand-dollar option. While the infotainment system itself is often slightly different from the standard systems with the usual addition of a "NAV" button, the overall cost to the automaker of adding navigation to your car probably comes down to a few programming changes, making it highly profitable.

Regardless, it's definitely the quirkiest feature I've found in my GTI since I bought it in May.

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Used 2017 Volkswagen GTI S
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Used 2017 Volkswagen GTI S
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
I Recently Found a Surprising Quirk in My Volkswagen GTI - Autotrader