2015 Volkswagen Golf R

 
2015 Volkswagen Golf R
 
2015 Volkswagen Golf R
 

2015 Volkswagen Golf R

MSRP 
$37,415
Invoice 
$35,951
Target 
 
 

Vehicle Highlights

  • Drive Train: All Wheel Drive
  • Passengers: 5
  • Doors: 4

View More Features and Specifications

Warranty

  • Basic Warranty: 3 Years / 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain Warranty: 5 Years / 60,000 Miles
  • Roadside Assistance: 3 Years / 36,000 Miles

A vehicle's warranty can significant impact your maintenance costs after you drive off the dealer's lot, and it's important to understand the different parts. Typically, a new car warranty includes a Basic warranty, which covers everything except the wear items such as brakes and tires; and a Drivetrain warranty, that covers all the parts that make the car move, such as the engine and transmission

Select options for 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

Est Target Price With Options

$37,415

Est. Savings Of MSRP Price

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Paint Scheme
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Port Installed Options
Unselected Includes: set of 4 Mojo mats and heavy duty trunk liner w/CarGo blocks $185 $235
Unselected Includes: For securing items in the cargo area $80 $100
Unselected Includes: booster cables, warning triangle, LED flashlight, multi-tool, work gloves, PVC tape, blanket, poncho, whistle, cable ties and bandages $65 $85
Unselected $25 $35
Primary Paint
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Seat Trim
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Total

Specifications for 2015 Volkswagen Golf R

Standard Equipment

  • Safety Options
    • Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
    • ABS And Driveline Traction Control
    • Side Impact Beams
    • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Seat-Mounted Side Airbags
    • Car-Net Emergency S.O.S
    • Low Tire Pressure Warning
    • Dual Stage Driver And Passenger Front Airbags
    • Side Curtain Protection Curtain 1st And 2nd Row Airbags
    • Airbag Occupancy Sensor
    • Rear Child Safety Locks
    • Outboard Front Lap And Shoulder Safety Belts -inc: Rear Center 3 Point, Height Adjusters and Pretensioners
    • Rear Camera
  • Entertainment Features
    • Radio: 5.8" Touchscreen AM/FM/HD Audio w/CD/MP3 -inc: Bluetooth connectivity w/mic and voice control, limited subscription SiriusXM satellite radio, 8 speakers and Media Device Interface (MDI)
    • Radio w/Seek-Scan, Clock, Speed Compensated Volume Control, Aux Audio Input Jack, Steering Wheel Controls, Radio Data System and External Memory Control
    • Audio Theft Deterrent
    • Wireless Streaming
    • Integrated Roof Diversity Antenna
    • Bluetooth Wireless Phone Connectivity
  • Exterior Features
    • Wheels: 18" Cadiz Alloy
    • Tires: P225/40R18 Summer Performance
    • Steel Spare Wheel
    • Full-Size Spare Tire Mounted Inside Under Cargo
    • Clearcoat Paint
    • Body-Colored Front Bumper
    • Body-Colored Rear Bumper
    • Black Side Windows Trim and Black Front Windshield Trim
    • Body-Colored Door Handles
    • Metal-Look Power Heated Side Mirrors w/Manual Folding and Turn Signal Indicator
    • Fixed Rear Window w/Fixed Interval Wiper and Defroster
    • Light Tinted Glass
    • Speed Sensitive Rain Detecting Variable Intermittent Wipers w/Heated Jets
    • Fully Galvanized Steel Panels
    • Lip Spoiler
    • Black Grille
    • Liftgate Rear Cargo Access
    • Tailgate/Rear Door Lock Included w/Power Door Locks
    • Fully Automatic Projector Beam High Intensity Low/High Beam Daytime Running Auto-Leveling Directionally Adaptive Headlamps w/Washer
  • Interior Features
    • Heated Top Sport Front Seats -inc: 12-way power driver seat w/power lumbar support, manually adjustable front passenger seat w/power recline and manual lumbar support
    • 60-40 Folding Bench Front Facing Fold Forward Seatback Rear Seat
    • Manual Tilt/Telescoping Steering Column
    • Gauges -inc: Speedometer, Odometer, Engine Coolant Temp, Tachometer, Trip Odometer and Trip Computer
    • Power Rear Windows
    • Car-Net Selective Service Internet Access
    • 5 Person Seating Capacity
    • Sport Leather/Piano Black Steering Wheel
    • Front Cupholder
    • Rear Cupholder
    • Compass
    • Proximity Key For Doors And Ignition
    • Valet Function
    • Power Fuel Flap Locking Type
    • Remote Keyless Entry w/Integrated Key Transmitter, Illuminated Entry and Panic Button
    • Remote Releases -Inc: Power Fuel
    • Cruise Control w/Steering Wheel Controls
    • Dual Zone Front Automatic Air Conditioning
    • HVAC -inc: Underseat Ducts and Console Ducts
    • Illuminated Locking Glove Box
    • Driver Foot Rest
    • Interior Trim -inc: Piano Black Instrument Panel Insert, Piano Black Door Panel Insert, Chrome And Aluminum Interior Accents
    • Full Cloth Headliner
    • Leatherette Door Trim Insert
    • Leather/Aluminum Gear Shift Knob
    • Day-Night Auto-Dimming Rearview Mirror
    • Driver And Passenger Visor Vanity Mirrors w/Driver And Passenger Illumination
    • Full Floor Console w/Covered Storage, Mini Overhead Console w/Storage and 2 12V DC Power Outlets
    • Front And Rear Map Lights
    • Fade-To-Off Interior Lighting
    • Full Carpet Floor Covering -inc: Carpet Front And Rear Floor Mats
    • Carpet Floor Trim
    • Cargo Area Concealed Storage
    • Rigid Cargo Cover
    • Cargo Space Lights
    • FOB Controls -inc: Trunk/Hatch/Tailgate
    • Instrument Panel Covered Bin, Refrigerated/Cooled Box Located In The Glovebox, Driver / Passenger And Rear Door Bins
    • Power 1st Row Windows w/Front And Rear 1-Touch Up/Down
    • Delayed Accessory Power
    • Power Door Locks w/Autolock Feature
    • Systems Monitor
    • Redundant Digital Speedometer
    • Trip Computer
    • Outside Temp Gauge
    • Analog Display
    • Seats w/Leatherette Back Material
    • Manual Anti-Whiplash Adjustable Front Head Restraints and Manual Adjustable Rear Head Restraints
    • Front Center Armrest and Rear Center Armrest w/Pass-Thru w/Storage
    • 2 Seatback Storage Pockets
    • Perimeter Alarm
    • Immobilizer III Engine Immobilizer
    • 2 12V DC Power Outlets
    • Air Filtration
  • Mechanical Features
    • Engine: 2.0L TSI Turbocharged
    • Transmission: 6-Speed DSG Automatic
    • Transmission w/Driver Selectable Mode, Tiptronic Sequential Shift Control w/Steering Wheel Controls and Oil Cooler
    • Full-Time All-Wheel Drive
    • 4.77 Axle Ratio
    • Engine Oil Cooler
    • 60-Amp/Hr 480CCA Maintenance-Free Battery w/Run Down Protection
    • 140 Amp Alternator
    • 4387# Gvwr 979# Maximum Payload
    • Gas-Pressurized Shock Absorbers
    • Front And Rear Anti-Roll Bars
    • Sport Tuned Suspension
    • Electric Power-Assist Speed-Sensing Steering
    • 14.5 Gal. Fuel Tank
    • Quasi-Dual Stainless Steel Exhaust w/Chrome Tailpipe Finisher
    • Permanent Locking Hubs
    • Strut Front Suspension w/Coil Springs
    • Multi-Link Rear Suspension w/Coil Springs
    • 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Front Vented Discs, Brake Assist, Hill Hold Control and Electric Parking Brake
    • Brake Actuated Limited Slip Differential

Tech Specs

  • Brakes Features
    • Brake ABS System - 4-Wheel
    • Disc - Front (Yes or ) - Yes
    • Disc - Rear (Yes or ) - Yes
    • Front Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in) - 13.4
    • Rear Brake Rotor Diam x Thickness (in) - 12.2
  • Cargo Area Dimensions Features
    • Cargo Volume with Rear Seat Up (ft³) - 22.8
    • Cargo Volume with Rear Seat Down (ft³) - 52.7
  • Electrical Features
    • Cold Cranking Amps @ 0° F (Primary) - 480
    • Maximum Alternator Capacity (amps) - 140
  • Engine Features
    • Engine Type - Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4
    • Displacement - 2.0 L/121
    • Fuel System - Direct Gasoline Injection
    • SAE Net Horsepower @ RPM - 292 @ 5400
    • SAE Net Torque @ RPM - 280 @ 1800
  • Exterior Dimensions Features
    • Wheelbase (in) - 103.6
    • Length, Overall (in) - 168.4
    • Width, Max w/o mirrors (in) - 70.8
    • Height, Overall (in) - 56.5
    • Tread Width, Front (in) - 60.7
    • Tread Width, Rear (in) - 59.7
    • Min Ground Clearance (in) - 4.8
  • Fuel Tank Features
    • Fuel Tank Capacity, Approx (gal) - 14.5
  • Interior Dimensions Features
    • Passenger Capacity - 5
    • Passenger Volume (ft³) - 93.5
    • Front Head Room (in) - 38.4
    • Front Leg Room (in) - 41.2
    • Front Shoulder Room (in) - 55.9
    • Second Head Room (in) - 38.1
    • Second Leg Room (in) - 35.6
    • Second Shoulder Room (in) - 53.9
  • Steering Features
    • Steering Type - Rack-Pinion
    • Turning Diameter - Curb to Curb (ft) - 35.8
  • Summary Features
    • Vehicle Name - Volkswagen Golf R
    • Body Style - Hatchback
  • Suspension Features
    • Suspension Type - Front - Strut
    • Suspension Type - Rear - Multi-Link
    • Suspension Type - Front (Cont.) - Strut
    • Suspension Type - Rear (Cont.) - Multi-Link
  • Tires Features
    • Front Tire Size - P225/40HR18
    • Rear Tire Size - P225/40HR18
    • Spare Tire Size - Full-Size
  • Transmission Features
    • Drivetrain - All Wheel Drive
    • Trans Type - 6
    • Trans Description Cont. - Auto-Shift Manual w/OD
    • First Gear Ratio (:1) - 2.92
    • Second Gear Ratio (:1) - 1.83
    • Third Gear Ratio (:1) - 1.31
    • Fourth Gear Rato (:1) - 0.97
    • Fifth Gear Ratio (:1) - 1.04
    • Sixth Gear Ratio (:1) - 0.81
    • Reverse Ratio (:1) - 3.26
    • Final Drive Axle Ratio (:1) - 4.77
  • Vehicle Features
    • EPA Classification - Compact Cars
  • Weight Information Features
    • Base Curb Weight (lbs) - 3340
  • Wheels Features
    • Front Wheel Size (in) - 18 X 7.5
    • Rear Wheel Size (in) - 18 X 7.5
    • Spare Wheel Size (in) - Full-Size
    • Front Wheel Material - Aluminum
    • Rear Wheel Material - Aluminum
    • Spare Wheel Material - Steel

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Introduction

Completely redesigned for 2015, the Volkswagen Golf lineup has become one of the most expansive families of compact hatchbacks extant, with three- and five-door body styles and multiple sources of power. Bigger, lighter and more powerful, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf marks the beginning of the seventh generation of these compact, front-wheel-drive cars.

It adds up to a 2015 Golf line that’s collected several honors, including the prestigious 2015 North American Car of the Year award.

Although hatchbacks aren’t as popular as sedans in the U.S., Volkswagen sees the 2015 Golf lineup as the core of its brand worldwide, and as such, has spawned a number of variants and powertrains: The 2015 Golf lineup made its debut with the gasoline-powered Golf TSI and peppy Golf GTI models, in two- and four-door hatchback body styles. Also available is the four-door Golf TDI with efficient diesel power. These were followed by the all-electric e-Golf, the high-performance Golf R, and most recently the roomy 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.

All gasoline-powered 2015 Golf models use an updated version of VW’s 1.8-liter turbocharged, direct-injected inline-4, 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.

Whether in two- or four-door styles, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf is fun to drive, with a ride that’s firm but still comfortable.

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, a la the one available in the GTI and Golf R. The TDI is smooth and quiet, and achieves excellent fuel economy, as expected from a diesel: 31/42 mpg City/Highway with the manual transmission.

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 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 new 2015 Golf R version generates 292 hp and 280 lb.-ft., 36 hp and 37 lb.-ft. more than the previous model. It’s EPA rated for 23/30 mpg City/Highway, an improvement of 3 miles per gallon over the previous-generation Golf R. Both of the turbocharged engines require Premium gasoline, whereas the standard Golf versions burn Regular gas.

Underneath all these models lies a new architecture, which is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of powertrains and body shapes from the ground-up, instead of forcing engineers to shoehorn in modifications that can take up space (including the battery pack in the electric e-Golf).

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.

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.

Lineup

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI is powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged, direct-injected inline-4 that makes 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque.

Golf Launch Edition ($17,995) comes only in the 2-door body style with a 5-speed manual transmission. Standard features include manually operated air conditioning, cloth upholstery, power windows/door locks/outside mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, manually adjustable seats with lumbar, Bluetooth connectivity, touch screen display, audio system with CD player, satellite radio capability and iPod integration, rear wiper, split folding rear seats with center armrest and pass-through, dual exhaust tips and 15-inch steel wheels.

Golf S is available as a 2-door with a 5-speed manual transmission ($18,995) or with a 6-speed automatic ($20,095), or as a 4-door body style with automatic ($20,695). Standard features in addition to above include leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with multifunction controls, leather-wrapped shift knob and handbrake lever, cruise control and VW Car-Net connected features. Wheels are 15-inch alloys. Four-door Golf S models are available with a power sunroof.

Golf SE ($24,495) is available only as a 4-door model and comes with the 6-speed automatic transmission, heated front seats, Fender premium audio system, rain-sensing headlights, heated front washer nozzles, automatic headlights, front foglights and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Golf SEL ($26,995) comes exclusively in the 4-door style with the automatic transmission and adds automatic climate control, keyless entry, pushbutton start, sport comfort seats with 12-way power driver’s seat, ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Golf TDI models are available in the four-door body style only and are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injected inline-4, which makes 150 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. Golf TDI S models include all standard features found on Golf S, with a choice of either a 5-speed manual ($21,995) or a 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission ($23,095).

Golf TDI SE models can be equipped with a 6-speed manual ($25,495) or DSG ($26,595) and add the Fender premium audio system, heated front seats, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, front foglights, rearview camera, heated front washer nozzles a power sunroof and 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels. Golf TDI SEL manual ($27,995) and DSG ($29,995) trims add automatic climate control, keyless entry, pushbutton start, sport comfort seats with 12-way power driver’s seat, ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Options include the Driver Assistance Package ($695), which adds front and rear parking sensors and forward collision warning.

GTI models are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 that produces 210 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s available in a 2-door body style with a 6-speed manual ($24,395) or 6-speed dual-clutch automated manual, or DSG ($24,995), or as a 4-door with the same manual ($25,495) or DSG ($26,095) gearboxes. Standard features on the GTI include manually operated air conditioning, cloth upholstery, manually adjustable seats with lumbar support (4-door models get partial power front seats), power windows/door locks/outside mirrors, a manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather-wrapped steering wheel with multifunction controls, leather-wrapped shift knob and handbrake lever, ambient lighting with LED reading lights, adjustable driving modes, cruise control, touchscreen display, audio system with CD player, satellite radio capability and iPod interface, Bluetooth connectivity, VW Car-Net connected services, split-folding rear seats with center armrest and pass-through, a lowered sport suspension, dual chrome-look exhaust tips, rear spoiler, red brake calipers and 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

Golf GTI SE 2-door manual ($27,395), 2-door automatic ($28,495), 4-door manual ($27,995) and 4-door automatic ($29,095) add leather upholstery, keyless entry, pushbutton start, the Fender premium audio system, a power sunroof, rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights. Four door models get partial power seats. Golf GTI Autobahn manual ($29,595) and automatic ($30,695) models add automatic climate control, a 12-way power driver’s seat and navigation.

Options for the 2015 Volkswagen GTI include a Performance Package ($1,495), which bumps up horsepower by 10 hp for a total of 220 hp and adds larger brakes and a torque-sensing limited-slip differential which electronically adjusts power to wheels while cornering for increased grip.

The e-Golf ($35,445) is propelled by an AC synchronous electric motor (115 hp, 199 lb-ft), mated to a single speed transmission. Its equipment includes all the features, standard and optional, available in the 2015 Golf, as well as 16-inch aluminum wheels, LED headlights, a first for the line, and low rolling resistance tires. Maximum range per charge is rated as 83 miles, according to VW, and the EPA’s fuel efficiency equivalency is 126 miles city, 105 miles highway. Availability is limited, initially, to the 10 states subscribing to the zero emission sales mandate established by the California Air Resources Board.

Golf R ($36,595) includes a 292-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, all-wheel drive, sports suspension, lower ride height, performance summer tires, DSG automated manual transmission, heated leather seats. A DCC option package includes a sophisticated adaptive damping system, bigger brakes, 19-inch wheels, more aggressive tires, and navigation, boosting the price to $39,090. VW plans to make a manual transmission available in mid-2015 as a 2016 model.

Safety equipment on all models includes dual front airbags, front seat-mounted side impact airbags, side air curtain airbags, antilock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, electronic stability control and hill-hold assist.

Walkaround

While the 2015 Golf is fully redesigned, exterior changes are subtle. The front end is slightly lower and wider, with a shorter front overhang. Headlights are narrower, with standard foglamps on upper trims, and new LED running lights are optional.

Underneath all Golf models is a new architecture, VW’s MQB platform, which is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of powertrains and body shapes from the ground-up. Compared with the previous generation, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf is about two inches longer, an inch lower and ever-so-slightly wider, riding atop a wheelbase that’s stretched by more than two inches. The front wheels sit 1.7 inches farther forward, making the Golf appear to sit farther back on its haunches and giving it a sportier, more aggressive stance.

Volkswagen says the new shape also helps the Golf achieve better aerodynamics; the drag coefficient has been improved from 0.32 to 0.29. A lower number is better, as it helps the car slip more easily through the air, improving performance and fuel economy.

From the side, the longer hood is evident, as is its lower stance. The side body crease that runs from behind the front wheel arches and just below the door handles is crisper and sharper.

In the rear, the back end is flatter, framed by narrower, more angular tail lamps. The rear window opening is sits slightly higher up. The lower rear bumper is also more angular, framing the license plate housing in twin symmetrical bulges. Both TSI and TDI models get twin tailpipes on one side.

GTI models are differentiated by a unique mesh front grille and bold horizontal lines across the foglamp housings, side skirts, a roof spoiler and red calipers. In back, the GTI gets a unique rear diffuser and twin chrome exhaust tips, one on either side.

Golf R distinctions are subtle, entailing a revised front bumper design with larger air intakes, bi-xenon headlights with LED surrounds, black finish side mirror backs, an R-specific wheel design, four tailpipes, and of course R logos on the front fender.

The e-Golf was to designed to look and feel like a regular Golf, so exterior distinctions are minimal. The headlights are LED, the wheel design is specific to this car. And because e-Golf is battery-powered, there is no tailpipe.

Interior

As always, the interior of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf exudes an air of simple elegance. Some might call it austere, but we like the controls and trim pieces that blend in unobtrusively with their surroundings, especially in black. That’s quite a contrast from other car makers, who seem to overwhelm the eye with varying shades of trims and textures in the cabin or try too hard with gimmicks like cupholders that change color.

Controls are canted slightly toward the driver, and the instrument cluster has a classic white-on-black numbering that’s easy to read. An information screen sits between the tachometer and odometer and allows drivers to easily see various functions by toggling through a control on the steering wheel. We were slightly bothered by the odd slant of the instrument cluster, however, which is angled upward.

In one model we drove, the instrument panel was wrapped in a pleasing, soft-touch material that was textured just enough to give it interest, with a soft matte finish that made it look high-end and also prevented glare. The center stack, gearshift surround and dash came trimmed in a tasteful, low-gloss brushed aluminum-look trim.

A new standard color touch screen sits in the center stack, flanked on either side by rows of buttons that control audio, phone and vehicle information functions. The buttons allow quick access to each function, without looking cluttered. While the screen is a nice addition on base models, we would like to see a larger screen for the more expensive trims and the GTI, especially on cars equipped with navigation. Below, three perfectly symmetrical knobs operate the climate control functions.

On cars equipped with pushbutton start, the button sits on the center console, rather than next to the steering column like in some cars. This felt a bit unnatural, but we think owners would get used to it relatively quickly. Traditional ignition keys are used on some models, with a key that flips out of the fob; and you’re never looking for the key.

All 2015 Volkswagen Golf models come standard with iPhone connectivity and use Apple’s newest Lightning plug. Though, when our iPhone 5s was plugged in, we were disappointed that our phone’s navigation audio commands did not come through the car’s speakers, as it does with Hyundai, Nissan and most luxury brands. Golf’s optional built-in navigation works fine, though we found the female voice somewhat grating.

A premium audio system that comes on Golf SE and Golf SEL trims is made by Fender, of guitar fame. If you like your music loud, the Fender system will deliver, but at low to moderate volumes, we didn’t find it remarkable. In fact, it was especially hard to hear in the GTI due to all the road noise.

Front seats are comfortable, and getting in and out of the car is easy, even for our six-foot-five driving companion. Side bolsters hold occupants firmly around the corners and fit a range of body styles and sizes, though our tall colleague mentioned after some time he was feeling a tad pinched in the hips. Standard upholstery on our test car was Volkswagen’s V-Tex leatherette, which was comfortable and appears as if it would hold its shape long-term, though it would be hard-pressed to mistake it for real leather. Our SE model was equipped with partial power seats; fore-and-aft adjustments are manual, while recline functions are automatic. We find this combination a bit strange and would prefer either all-manual controls like those found on the Golf S 2-door, or the 12-way full power seats that come on SEL trims.

Despite the 2015 Golf being longer than its predecessor, front legroom remains stays the same at 41.2 inches. In the rear, the Golf gains only one-tenths of an inch in legroom at 35.6 inches. And because it’s about an inch lower, the Golf loses some headroom compared with the outgoing model: about an inch in front, and about a half-inch in the rear. Still, the Golf’s boxy shape makes it plenty roomy, and we got no complaints in that department even from our very tall driving companion, who fit fine behind the (much shorter) driver.

Outward visibility is excellent, unimpeded except for the large C-pillars (the rearmost roof supports).

Storage space is plentiful in the Golf, with twin cupholders in the center console, and wide, deep front door pockets that can hold giant water bottles and coffee mugs. Rear passengers get a fold-down center console, when a fifth passenger isn’t in the center seat.

Cargo space measures 22.8 cubic feet in all models. This is especially significant in the TDI model, which previously could carry only 15.2 cubic feet (due to the position of the diesel system’s urea tank in the rear of the car). The tradeoff, comes in the form of a new, space-saving torsion beam suspension, which slightly sacrifices driving dynamics. A split folding rear seat is standard, as well as a center pass-through, which allows multiple cargo and passenger configurations.

Compared to the four-door Ford Focus hatchback, the Volkswagen Golf offers slightly more rear legroom but falls short of the Focus’s 23.8 cubic-foot trunk. The Kia Forte hatchback gets more headroom, slightly more rear legroom and and 23.2 cubic feet of trunk space. Mazda3 hatches slightly more rear legroom with 35.8 inches, but have slightly less headroom in the front and rear the least amount of trunk space at 20.2 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf is both sophisticated and fun, with European road manners that make it pleasurable to drive around town and on the highway. Though all 2015 Golf models use four-cylinder engines, there is ample power for most driving needs.

Golf TSI models use an updated version of VW’s 1.8-liter turbocharged, direct-injected inline-4, good for 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. We found the Golf TSI with the automatic transmission delivered smooth acceleration and shifts were timely. There was a brief moment of hesitation at tip-in, followed by ample thrust, a common downside for many newer cars tuned to maximize fuel economy. In Sport mode, the transmission holds gears longer, providing plenty of thrust during a test drive through the hilly roads of Northern California. The ride is firmly sprung in Golf TSI models, but not uncomfortable. Rebound is smooth and quick when going over train tracks and potholes. Over rougher roads, its multi-link rear suspension helps keep everything in check. Fuel economy for Golf TSI is 26/37 mpg City/Highway with the manual and 26/36 mpg City/Highway with the automatic, according to EPA estimates.

Golf TDI models use a revised version of VW’s turbocharged 2.0-liter direct-injected inline-4, which makes 150 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. We found the Golf TDI exceptionally quiet on startup, and the clattering typical of its diesel engine was only obvious when driving at low-to-moderate speeds on demanding roads. With the 6-speed manual transmission, clutch engagement was smooth and shift throws were comfortable, but the cable shift linkage felt soft. The Golf TDI didn’t seem tractable at very low speeds; in other words, we often needed to downshift to first gear at parking-lot speeds where in many cars second gear would suffice. We also felt caught between second and third gears at moderate speeds on winding uphill roads: the engine whirred along at the top of its limits in second, but failed to provide enough torque (oomph) in third. As a result, we found ourselves shifting back and forth around nearly every turn. If you like the driver engagement of a manual, this car will give you that and then some. If not, opt for the automatic with the TDI. To create more trunk space (and perhaps to cut costs), Golf TDI models no longer have the sportier and more expensive multi-link rear suspension found on other Golf models. Instead, Golf TDI models use a less sophisticated torsion-beam rear suspension. Driving around town, the difference was negligible, but we found the Golf TDI became unsettled and was much less composed around hard corners and on uneven, undulating surfaces than the other Golf models. While it may not deliver the best ride quality of the lineup, the Golf TDI excels in fuel economy, with 31/42 mpg City/Highway with the manual transmission.

Golf’s brakes work well on all the models we drove. On the previous-generation (pre-2015) Golf, we dug into the brake pedal repeatedly on Germany’s Autobahn to slow down from triple-digit speeds. This time, though our drive was at much lower speeds, we felt just as confident. Pedal feel is solid, and braking feels stable.

Golf GTI is sporty yet refined, with its 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 that makes 210 hp and a hearty 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Not only is the GTI more powerful than before, it’s also about 80 pounds lighter, which makes the GTI feel plenty zippy around town and on the highway. Suspension in the GTI is firmer and feels flatter through the corners than the standard Golf, which makes it more comfortable for aggressive driving. An optional Performance Package for the GTI boosts output to 220 horsepower and adds bigger brakes and a new torque-sensing electronically controlled limited-slip differential. As its description suggests, the limited-slip differential improves stability and grip via electronic means, rather than mechanical. The variable assist electric steering in the GTI feels a little heavy at speed, which will satisfy those who equate high steering effort with sportiness. It’s also quick, at 2.2 turns from lock to lock, and exceptionally accurate by the standard of these new electric steering systems. The exhaust note on the GTI is satisfying, and one can hear it adequately through the cabin, though it has quite a bit of competition in the form of road and tire noise. In fact, we found the GTI so noisy at highway speeds, we had to considerably raise our voices to converse. Fuel economy for the 2015 Volkswagen GTI is rated at 25/34 mpg City/Highway with the manual and 25/33 mpg City/Highway with the automatic.

The e-Golf, as expected, is exceptionally quiet. And with a single-speed transmission there’s no shifting. Aside from that, though, it has the same Euro feel, response, and firm ride quality as a standard Golf. There are three operating modes, Normal, Eco, and Eco+, which successively reduce power and limit top speed, from a maximum of 87 mph to 56 mph. Presumably, operating judiciously in Eco+ will yield the e-Golf’s maximum range on a single charge: 83 miles. But we weren’t able to spend enough time with the car to verify that.

Golf R is the family rocket. Thanks to all-wheel drive traction and the lightning upshifts delivered by the DSG paddles, VW claims the Golf R can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, but it felt quicker than that to us. Top speed is limited to 155 mph, and it’s a good bet the Golf R will get to that velocity pretty quick. However, the real virtue here is dynamic. The Golf R ups the ante on the GTI’s cornering limits, inspiring driver confidence in some very high speed curves, and the firmer suspension all but eliminates body roll, particularly with the optional DCC auto adjusting damping. Beyond that, the braking is formidable: never a hint of fade. We found we could brake as hard and as often as we liked. Volkswagen calls the Golf R the fastest car it has ever brought to the U.S. After a short afternoon with this compact rocket, we have no reason to doubt it.

Summary

Completely redesigned for 2015, the Volkswagen Golf is a versatile, fun-to-drive car available in a variety of body styles and powertrains. Golf TSI offers German refinement at Honda prices. Golf TDI achieves excellent fuel economy and has more cargo space than before, though ride quality is slightly compromised. Golf GTI is sporty yet refined, with increased power and less weight over its predecessor. Golf R adds even more power and agility. The e-Golf provides an answer for drivers who value the firm feel and response of a European car but want to bypass gas stations.

NewCarTestDrive.com senior correspondent Laura Burstein filed this report after her test drives of the Volkswagen Golf, TDI, GTI in San Francisco. NCTD founding editor Tony Swan added impressions of the Golf R and e-Golf based on drives in Southern California and Virginia, respectively.

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