Review Introduction

2015 Volkswagen Golf Introduction


All-new the 2015 Volkswagen Golf lineup comes in three- and five-door body styles plus a new wagon, with a wide choice of powertrains that use gasoline, diesel or electricity for propulsion. The 2015 Volkswagen Golf marks the beginning of the seventh generation of these compact, front-wheel-drive cars.

We’ve found the entire lineup of 2015 Volkswagen Golf models fun to drive, with a ride that’s firm but comfortable. The interiors are very nice, comfortable, convenient, and everything is easy to operate. These are great cars. And we aren’t the only automotive journalists to think so:

The new Volkswagen Golf earned the prestigious 2015 North American Car of the Year award.

The 2015 Golf lineup started with the gasoline-powered Golf TSI and sporty Golf GTI models. Next came the Golf TDI with efficient diesel power, followed by the all-electric e-Golf, the high-performance Golf R, and a roomy new 2015 Golf SportWagen.

All share the same architecture, VW’s new front-wheel-drive MQB platform, although the SportWagen departs slightly from the hatchback formula with a more traditional station wagon body style. The wagon was previously part of the Jetta family, but because it shares the same architecture as the new Golf, it’s become part of the Golf lineup.

All gasoline-powered 2015 Golf models use an updated version of VW’s 1.8-liter turbocharged, direct-injected four-cylinder, good for 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque in the standard model. And while other carmakers seem to be dropping manual transmissions, Volkswagen keeps its standard 5-speed manual as well as an optional 6-speed dual-clutch automatic. Fuel economy is EPA-estimated 26/37 mpg City/Highway with the manual and 26/36 mpg City/Highway with the automatic.

The diesel-powered 2015 Golf TDI uses an updated version of VW’s turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injected inline-4, which makes 150 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed DSG automated manual transmission. The TDI is smooth and quiet, and achieves excellent fuel economy.

Volkswagen dropped the starting price of the 2015 Golf TDI by more than $3,000 compared with the previous-generation 2014 model, but not without compromises. For one, the Golf TDI loses its sportier (and more expensive) multi-link rear suspension in favor of a less sophisticated torsion beam rear axle, which we found to be less composed on the road. On the plus side, the new packaging allows more luggage space than before, bringing total cargo capacity in line with other 2015 Golf models.

The SportWagen offers a choice of the 1.8-liter TSI (gasoline) engine or the latest version of the 2.0 TDI diesel. Transmission choices include a 5-speed manual, a 6-speed automatic, a 6-speed manual, and a 6-speed dual clutch automated manual. SportWagen EPA fuel economy ratings range from 25/35 mpg City/Highway for the TSI manual to 31/43 mpg for the TDI with manual transmission.

The 2015 Volkswagen GTI, the car that inspired the hot hatchback phenomenon in 1975, is better than ever with its 210-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged power plant, bigger brakes, sport-tuned suspension and precise steering. A new performance package adds 10 hp, plus even more agility and grip thanks to an electronically controlled electronic slip differential. Fuel economy slips a bit compared to the standard Golf, to 25/34 mpg City/Highway with the manual and 25/33 mpg with the automatic.

Yet another variation on the same 2.0-liter turbo, the 2015 Golf R generates 292 hp and 280 lb.-ft. It’s EPA-rated for 23/30 mpg City/Highway. That’s more power and better fuel economy than that of the previous-generation version. Both of the turbocharged engines require Premium gasoline, whereas the standard Golf versions burn Regular gas.

Inside, all 2015 Golf models get comfortable seats, a tasteful interior with thoughtfully placed controls, a new standard touchscreen and plenty of space for people and cargo. We found even the tallest drivers are comfortable in the back seat, with ample headroom and sufficient legroom. Cargo space measures 22.8 cubic feet, and the Golf’s boxier shape allows stuff to be stacked nearly all the way to the roof. As you’d expect, the bigger SportWagen provides even more volume: 30.4 behind the rear seats, 66.5 with the rear seats folded flat, rivaling many compact SUVs.

Competitors to the 2015 Volkswagen Golf include hatchback versions of the Ford Focus, Kia Forte, Mazda3, and the Hyundai Elantra GT. Alternatives to the GTI include the Ford Focus ST and Honda Civic Si. The only hatchback rival to the 2015 Golf R is its more expensive cousin, the Audi S3, though a hotter Ford Focus is due for the 2016 model year. Golf TDI models are in a class by themselves; those looking for diesel power would have to go to a four-door sedan like the Chevrolet Cruze diesel or step up to a more expensive luxury vehicle like the BMW 328d SportWagen.

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