2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Much Improved Handling
December 19, 2014
The previous generation Volkswagen GTI was a great daily driver and fun up to a certain point if you drive with enthusiasm. But if you really wanted a car that you could push hard on a twisty road or hammer at a high-performance driving event, there were some people who felt it just wasn't up to the task. We learned that with our old 2010 GTI. I went back and looked at some of our updates on that car. Relatively soft suspension tuning, modest tire grip (at least with the all-season tires) and a zealous stability control system were the typical complaints.
But now we have something completely different. This new 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI has received all sorts of accolades for its newfound dynamic prowess. I was curious to check it personally, so I took the key to our GTI and headed out for a test run on some local back roads.
Initial impressions? I think lurking underneath the unassuming red GTI exterior is a Superman "S." This car is good. Point it into a corner and it just grips and rips. The suspension keeps the car much more controlled during quick transitions while the summer-rated tires let you carry plenty of speed. Want to drive this GTI aggressively? The car responds with a "Heck yeah, let's do this!" while high-fiving you and humming the original A-Team theme song. The steering is a little too heavy for my tastes, perhaps, but it's quick and contributes to the feeling that the car can be driven aggressively with confidence.
As I was on public roads, I didn't feel a need to turn off the stability control system. But there are now two different settings for stability control and, as we reported from our recent instrumented track test, they are minimally invasive and can actually be beneficial for tidying up the car's balance. Around tight turns, I could also feel the basic (brake based) torque vectoring feature of the car helping to get the power down.
Before, the GTI was great at getting you to destinations but perhaps a bit of a disappointment if you were really keen on putting the hammer down. Now, you get both.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 3,344 miles