Test Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Everyone always starts a review of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI talking about history.  So here goes.  The lifespan of a Volkswagen Golf used to be damn near a decade.  I don’t mean how long it was on the road, I mean how many years before a new one came out.  The Mk1 and Mk2 both lasted nine years.  The Mk3, eight years.  By the 4th and 5th generations it was steadily dropping and now VW updates them every four years or so.  Does that mean progress now occurs more often, or does the size and bloat of each new model year mean it’s not quite what it used to be?  The seventh-generation Golf is just going on sale in the US, as a 2015 model.  Take a look at the RFD test drive video review and find out if its any good.

2015 Volkswagen GTI Test Drive

Our test car was a brand new SE model sporting black paint, black leather inside (with cool red stitching) and some shiny wheels.  The 2.0T SE starts at $27,995 and in additional to the leather seats features a rearview camera, push-button start, Fender® audio, a panoramic  sunroof, and some other stuff.  Our tester was $28,815 as it sat, fresh off the boat train from Germany Mexico.

2015 Volkswagen GTI Push Start

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI is one of the few cars I’ve driven and not thought, “Wow, this is great but I wish it had fifty more ponies.”

This is the mid-level model, you can get a starter model 2.0T S at around $25,000 that comes with the cool(?) plaid sport seats, touchscreen sound system, and some other stuff that probably doesn’t make it go faster so we don’t care.  The upper model sounds great, at least in name – zee Autobahn Edition.  Starting at $29,595 this model gets you Nav, a 12-way adjustable driver’s seat, dual zone climate control and its speed limiter removed.  All models come in 2 and 4 door and the automatic tranny will cost you about $1100 more than the 6spd manual that our tester featured.  Again, we say sheiza to that.

2015 Volkswagen GTI Shifter

We really enjoyed rowing the gears in this manual transmission hot hatch, and as great as the DSG gearbox probably is, this is our preference.

Speaking of the transmission, look it’s a Golf ball.  Get it?  Because it’s a Golf?  You see what they did there?   Dorky German humor aside, it’s a great shifter, precise and just short enough.  We really enjoyed rowing the gears in this manual transmission hot hatch, and as great as the DSG gearbox probably is, this is our preference.  Throughout the rest of the interior, you get typical VW quality materials and surfaces.  Well, as long as you stay in the front.  Back seat schlubs can suck it, your touch surfaces aren’t as good.  That’s why you’re sitting in the back and we’re piloting this amazing machine.  Sorry, got carried away.  The new car is bigger than the last generation, as usual, so there is more room for passengers and their crap.  But enough about the boring stuff,  let’s go for a little drive.

2015 Volkswagen GTI Engine
Our little black GTI’s inline 2.0L turbo puts out 210 hp @ 4500 rpm and 258 ft-lbs. @ 1500 rpm so you aren’t looking for power down low.  Grunt comes in quickly, without a lot of lag, and pulls well through the rev band.

2015 Volkswagen GTI Driving
This is one of the few cars I’ve driven and not thought, “Wow, this is great but I wish it had fifty more ponies.” With 250 pounds feet of torque available in the lower RPM range, the Golf GTI doesn’t need it. The GTI simply pulls stumps. I had a blast with this car and had no problem coming out of corners or short shifting up hills. Let the turbo spool and all is cool.

So how does this new GTI stack up to our long-term Focus ST test car?  We think it more than holds its own. The GTI is undeniably more expensive, but it is also a bit more grown up.  Regardless, we’ll need a bit more time in the VW to compare.  Stay tuned to RFD for a more thorough test of the 2015 GTI and a head-to-head comparison with the latest Focus ST from Ford.

  1. If you had to do it all over again would you still go with the Focus ST over the GTI? I thought the GTI was underpowered, but it was a short test drive on a cold night…coming from an s2000.

    1. @disqus_NGxhtyNB9B:disqus I didn’t buy the GTI or the FoST but I have spent some time in both. Personally I enjoyed the GTI more as it felt 90% of the ST in terms of acceleration and felt more refined everywhere else, especially the interior. You are coming from an S2000. I was coming from an E46 M3. Both cars make all the hp in the top end whereas these cars are more about mid-range. Different animal.

      In the end, I sold my M3 to get the new WRX. Read about it here if you like – https://www.rightfootdown.com/2014/2015-subaru-wrx-replaces-2004-bmw-m3/

      There have been times in the past few weeks when I wondered if I should have gone with the GTI. Not once have I thought about the FoST.

      1. Thanks @Nihilation:disqus! Great info.

        So the question is…would you still stick with your WRX over the GTI?

        Who knew the choice would be so hard?

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