2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Impromptu Desert Coffee Run
April 16, 2015
At 4:00 am I found myself wide awake for no apparent reason. I tried to will myself back to sleep, but it was no use. So I fumbled around in the dark and grabbed the keys to our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI from the nightstand.
A couple of minutes later I was backing out of the driveway with coffee and donuts in mind.
I should have known it was far too early for my usual spot to be open, so I got back on the empty freeway and continued east. I glanced down at the GTI’s fuel gauge: full tank.
With no particular destination in mind, I called up a favorite podcast and sent it out through the VW’s speakers via Bluetooth connection and settled in.
I’m a big fan of this latest generation of Golf, and this new GTI seems to be the best iteration of this trailblazing “hot hatch” that I can remember. I can’t point to one single attribute that does it for me. It’s more or less the whole package.
For one, the seating position is about perfect for my 6-foot 2-inch frame. I don’t have to crank the seat all the way down to have good headroom or an expansive view, but I can lower myself down onto the deck if I want. Wherever I choose to sit, the telescopic steering pulls back far enough to allow my feet to stretch comfortably out to the pedals.
And that steering wheel tells me exactly what I need to know about how the tires and road are getting along, yet it never gets too talkative or insistent. Likewise, the chassis feels flat and settled without coming across as stiff and unyielding. It just feels right, whether I’m just putzing along or trying to make time on a winding back road.
And Volkswagen has figured out how to carve the Golf’s historically blocky shape into something that’s cool, but still manages to deliver a voluminous cargo hold without making the whole thing come across as a small-scale delivery vehicle.
Exactly none of this was going through my mind as I departed the outlying suburbs and passed between the windmills on the way towards Palm Springs. My podcast episode over, I found myself thinking, 'I wonder what Linda and Bill are up to this morning?'
Linda and Bill live in the isolated but stunningly beautiful desert community of Borrego Springs, some 90 miles as the crow flies from where I was at that moment. But crows don’t generally find themselves driving east on Interstate 10 in the general direction of Coachella and the Salton Sea. It would be another 125 miles before I got there.
I didn’t know for sure that they’d be home, but desert people tend to be morning people because that’s when the wildlife is out and the weather is most pleasant. I called about 15 minutes before I rolled into town. “Hey, you want to grab some coffee?”
“Where the heck are you, Dan?”
“Near the edge of town at the abandoned gas station.”
“We’ve got a pot brewing already. Come on over.”
I found them with slightly bemused faces on their back porch, newspaper in hand, with the morning light of the desert brightening in front of them. They had just returned from their usual early morning hike.
I gratefully accepted a cup of joe and spent a few minutes explaining my surprise appearance. We chatted about the upcoming Long Beach Grand Prix and my daughter’s progress toward getting her driver’s license. After about thirty minutes, we said our goodbyes and I climbed back into the GTI.
The eastern San Diego County back roads that lead home from Borrego Springs are some of my favorites. They’re also the perfect environment in which to enjoy the well-balanced handling of a sporty compact like the GTI.
And it starts not more than one mile from their front door with highway S22, a twisting and visually stunning two-lane grade that winds up from the desert floor to a high plateau over the span of 11 memorable miles. After that comes a gorgeous stretch of the somewhat less sinuous state highway 79 that eventually hooks up with civilization and the freeway system in Temecula.
I arrived home just before noon, my impromptu 327-mile coffee run complete. When I rolled into my local station, there were 376.5 miles on the GTI’s trip odometer, including 50 miles that were already there from driving home from work the night before. It took exactly 12.115 gallons to fill the tank, which works out to 31.1 mpg.
I’m still not sure what go into me, but our 2015 Volkswagen GTI was a big reason why I kept on going when I saw the closed sign hanging in the window of my local coffee-and-donut place.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 8,394 miles