VOLKSWAGEN GOLF DOMINATES 2015 AUTOMOTIVE AWARDS

2015 Volkswagen Golf

By Tom Crosby

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf hatchback has won a bevy of automotive awards this year with its seventh generation makeover that is less expensive, faster, bigger and more fuel efficient than last year’s Golf. This year it’s name can be synonymous with Rory Mcllroy, Tiger Woods or Jack Nicklaus as a compact family car at the top of its automotive game. We test-drove a no-options-added four-door Golf GTI S with a six-speed manual transmission $700 less than last year, that gets 3 miles per gallon more despite a more powerful engine, adds extra cargo and cabin space, a new 5.8-inch infotainment dashboard touch screen, a structurally stronger body and improved suspension system.

Every since its 1974 launch as a replacement for the popular VW Beetle, VW Golf has been a consistent winner of accolades, including the journalist 2015 North American Car of the Year; 2015 “Best of the Best” Car award from Autoweek magazine, a 2015 “All-Star” for the Golf GTI by Automobile magazine and 2015 Car of the Year by Motor Trend magazine. This year’s makeover created subtle changes in the profile, with reshaped head and taillights, a narrower front grille and redesigned front fascia, a steeply sloped hood and deeper side character lines. Red-painted brake calipers highlight a lower stance for a sportier look. Behind the wheel, handling was exceptional with electro-magnetic steering helping manipulate the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars that showed their stuff when choosing the sport driving mode adjustable for race-track like stability. (The two other modes are normal and individual).

Our six-speed manual – with a dimpled golf ball design on the shifter – growled appropriately with soaring rpm’s and at the top of the small screen between gauges, indicated needed gear upshifts. It was all too easy to cruise along at 60 mph in fourth gear. Golf’s nimbleness and quickness demanded sharp driver attentiveness coupled with a desire for some safety options, like blind spot detection, adaptive cruise control and rear view camera. Premium fuel is required to pull top performance from the turbo-charged direct injection 4-cylinder engine. Inside, materials did not feel cheap, colored audio graphics added panache, new ambient lighting felt upscale and attractive plaid-colored manually adjusted fabric seats resisted heat build up despite sitting in the sun.
Volkswagen Group of America, which produces Volkswagens, Audis, Porsches and five other vehicles, is Europe’s largest automaker.

LIKES: Price, quickness, interior look, mileage
DISLIKES: Safety options needed, premium gas cost
BOTTOM LINE: A comfortable compact family car with sporty chops

FACT FILE: 2015 VW Golf GTI S

  • Base price w/destination fee $25,815 (no options tested)
  • Curb weight 3,031 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 103.6 inches
  • Length 168 inches
  • Width 70.5 inches
  • Engine 2.0 liter, turbo-charged inline 4-cylinder, DOHC
  • Horsepower 210 hp at 4,500 rpm
  • Torque 258 lbs.-ft. at 1,5000 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • EPA Rating 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway
  • Range 13.2-gallon tank, premium recommended
  • Performance 0-60 in roughly 6 seconds