2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI
by John Davis
There is one thing for sure about Volkswagen: They definitely know how to build iconic cars -- From the Beetle, to the Microbus, to the Rabbit…which was actually just the American name for the first edition of the bestselling VW of all time, the Golf.
Now after 40 years, and managing nearly 30 million in sales, the 2015 Golf is again all-new. While it has been on sale in Europe since last year, the 7th generation Golf is just now landing stateside, fresh off a new production line in Mexico. So, what better way to get reacquainted than with the “original hot hatchback” GTI version.
That’s right! Volkswagen is launching the latest Golf for America with their high performance GTI. It will set the stage for a tuned-down TSI, and the turbo-diesel TDI, both set to arrive at the end of this summer.
Interestingly enough, the look of the new GTI is more mainstream than the boy-racer it replaces. Given that the Golf overall is totally evolutionary in appearance, the GTI will lend the new generation car something of a wolf in sheep’s clothing image.
For both two and four door, length and width bump up, with the front wheels pushed almost two inches forward by VW’s new MQB modular chassis. The highly versatile MQB will eventually underpin the vast majority of Volkswagen and Audi cars.
The growth outside leads to more room inside, where backseat space remains very ample, and cargo capacity now rivals a mid-size car.
The GTI also sees gains in horsepower, now 210 from its 2.0 liter turbocharged I4. A late availability Performance Package will add ten horsepower more, and includes an electronic limited slip differential; a first for a front-wheel drive car.
During our initial outings we found the new GTI’s chassis to be noticeably stiffer than before, with even more agile response despite just a touch of heft. Having extra power to play with also helps bump up road pleasing enjoyment.
Transmissions include a smooth shifting six speed manual and a quick shifting six speed dual-clutch automatic. The dual-clutch will no doubt be the volume transmission and buyers will give up little-to-no true performance by making that choice.
A new, standard touchscreen infotainment system improves livability, and stands as the centerpiece to an interior filled with high quality materials and workmanship. Our only true disappointment is that a rearview camera remains an option.
For a complete road test of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3243, that begins airing on June 27, 2014. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.
Once the 2015 Volkswagen Golf fills out its lineup with the TSI and TDI, plus the e-Golf electric, and a new Golf Wagon next year, the brand hopes to see U.S. sales double for the compact series. Given that a new, value oriented “S-trim” has also been added, it seems like a reasonable projection. Regardless, our first impressions about the new Golf are virtually all solid, and should further cement its vaunted spot in automotive history.