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Like its predecessor, the 2015 Volkswagen GTI won't offer scorching specifications. But as a cohesive package -- comfort, drivability and performance -- it should remain one of our top picks for a sporty hatchback.
Lively engine; hatchback versatility; upscale interior; compliant ride; improved fuel economy.
Competitors are quicker and handle better; lacks adequate interior storage.
The 2015 Volkswagen GTI will be fully redesigned.
The 2015 Volkswagen GTI might look familiar, but under that subtly evolved styling lies a ground-up redesign on an all-new platform. The seventh-generation GTI uses a new front-wheel-drive architecture that will underpin several future VW models. The new platform is wider, with a wheelbase 2 inches longer than that of the current GTI.
European drivers get the first crack at the GTI when it goes on sale there in May. The Euro model will use a direct-injected turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 217 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. An optional Performance pack adds 10 hp, along with larger brakes and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential. The four-cylinder will pair with either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch ("DSG") automatic transmission. Volkswagen says the GTI can hustle from zero to 62 mph in 6.5 seconds with the manual transmission. The Performance pack shaves that time to 6.4 seconds.
The GTI destined for America is likely to make 210 hp, splitting the difference between the current GTI and the new European model. Torque will rise substantially, however, jumping more than 50 lb-ft. More importantly, VW claims the new engine delivers 18 percent better fuel economy, although these claims appear based on a European test cycle, not EPA estimates.
VW hasn't confirmed the price of the Performance pack in the U.S., but it's likely to be a worthwhile option. The big brakes are nice, but you really want the limited-slip differential, which reacts to multiple dynamic parameters fed into its computer to optimize handling. A sport suspension and quick new steering system further enhance the GTI's skill set in the curves.
Red brake calipers, 17-inch alloy wheels, a unique body kit and rear diffuser, and dual exhaust tips distinguish the GTI's exterior. Plaid-covered seats, red ambient lighting, a sport steering wheel and stainless steel pedals do similar work inside.
The new GTI won't reach the U.S. until late next spring as a 2015 model. In Europe, the GTI will carry a price tag equivalent to about $37,000. No chance it'll cost that much in the U.S., where its current base price around $24,000 keeps it competitive with target rivals like the Ford Focus ST. Check back for a full review of the 2015 Volkswagen GTI, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.
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