Performance Tested - 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Long-Term Road Test

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Long-Term Road Test

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2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Performance Tested

December 12, 2014

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI

We're digging our new 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI. So much so that our Tornado Red hot hatch only had a few weeks of driving behind it before we had blown past the 1,000-mile engine break-in period. We quickly headed for the track to see if Volkswagen had addressed the overly-intrusive ESC system that we took umbrage with on our last-generation long-termer. After our day at the track, we pulled the performance numbers from our 2013 Ford Focus ST to see how the new GTI fared against the competition.

Vehicle: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI

Odometer: 1,808

Date: 11/11/2014

Driver: Chris Walton

Price: $31,515

Drive Type: Front-Wheel Drive
Transmission Type: six-speed automated manual
Engine Type: turbocharged inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,984 / 121
Redline (rpm): 6,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 210 @ 4,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 258 @ 1,500
Brake Type (front): One-piece ventilated with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): One-piece solid with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type(front): MacPherson strut
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink

Tire Size (front): 225/40R18 92Y
Tire Size (rear): 225/40R18 92Y
Tire Brand: Bridgestone
Tire Model: Potenza S001
Tire Type: Summer
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,161

Test Results: 

0-30 (sec): 3.1 (w/ TC on 3.1)
0-45 (sec): 4.2 (w/ TC on 4.7)
0-60 (sec): 6.2 (w/TC on 6.9)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 5.9 (w/TC on 6.5) 
0-75 (sec): 8.8 (w/TC on 9.5) 
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.5 @ 97.9 (w/TC on 14.9 @ 96.6)

30-0 (ft): 27
60-0 (ft): 108

Slalom (mph): 71.2 (70.5 w/ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.94 (0.92 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: 2100


Acceleration comments: With the drive mode in Normal and transmission in Drive, the GTI momentarily pauses after pressing the throttle all the way to the floor. When the auto-clutch manual engages the clutch, it's very smooth and positive, but once the car realizes it's being asked for maximum acceleration, it really changes demeanor into a rather aggressive machine. Upshifts are extremely rapid but remain smooth with a hint of head-toss. After selecting Sport mode and accessing the programmed Launch control feature, the engine spins up to 3,200 rpm and aggressively engages the clutch which causes quite a lot of wheelspin, but it works very well. As the car gains traction near the shift from 1st to 2nd gear, it hangs on to 1st right at the engine's maximum redline for what feels like too long, but again, this strategy seems to work quite well. Every upshift after that is just as quick and just as smooth as they were in the default modes and the result is a whopping three-quarters of a second chopped from the GTI's 0-60 time. Also, the GTI still upshifts automatically even when manual shift mode is engaged. The steering wheel-mounted paddles are solid and reassuring to use, but the console-mounted manual shifter is oriented in the counter-intuitive (Push = Upshift / Pull = Downshift) fashion. The gear shifts are only a little more aggressive and the exhaust note sounds far sportier in Sport mode, both in a really nice way.

Braking comments: The GTI has a very firm and confidence-inspiring pedal from the first fraction of an inch of travel. This trait continues even with our simulated panic-stop tests where it remains constant. The first stop from 60 mph was the shortest and only grew by two feet by the fourth stop. There was hardly any nose dive and not a hint of wiggle or wander under full-ABS stops. Very good brakes.

Handling comments: Whoa, we were not expecting this. Without a doubt, VW listened to the deserved criticism of the previous GTI's overly aggressive electronic stability-control system (ESC) and has taken the time to tune this one to near perfection. We used both the default ON mode as well as the three-menu-deep ESC Sport setting. In ESC Sport, the GTI has that rare quality of tenacious grip as well as a lively chassis that responds extremely well to skilled driver input at or near the limit of grip. Driven well, the GTI will allow the tires to slide (either front or rear depending on driver input) to affect the desired outcome. If the driver wants the rear of the car to slide to point into a corner, he can tell the car to do this with ease and confidence. Even if it was extremely fun and rewarding to slide the car between the slalom cones, the best practice was to keep it tidy and with a minimal amount of tire skidding. It should come as no surprise, then, that with the ESC system fully ON, it kept the car from sliding with both throttle intervention and brake application and it nearly matched the Sport ESC passes. The steering in either Normal or Sport mode is weighted properly and is highly responsive and precise regardless.

Here are the key performance figures versus the 2013 Ford Focus ST, the Golf GTI's closest competitor. The Focus ST was rolling on Michelin Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2's, while the GTI was shod in Bridgestone Potenza S001's.

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI 2013 Ford Focus ST
Curbweight as Tested (lbs.) 3,161 3,252
0-30 (sec.): 3.1 2.8
0-45 (sec.): 4.2 4.5
0-60 (sec.): 6.2 6.6
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 5.9 6.3
0-75 (sec.): 8.8 9.9
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 14.5 @ 97.9 15.0 @ 93.3
Skid Pad Lateral Accel (g): 0.94 0.93
Slalom: 71.2 69.1


Cameron Rogers, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 1,808 miles

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI

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