2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Rear-Facing Convertible Car Seats, An Informal Comparison
March 2, 2015
Before my daughter was born, a Volkswagen GTI (Mk VI) was going to be our family car. Because she arrived quite a few weeks earlier than we expected, we hadn't yet installed her infant car seat in it to assess the fit. Of course, the car seat fit fine. But due to its shape and our respective heights, my husband and I did not. We said a hasty goodbye to the VW and bought a Mazda 5.
That doesn't mean we don't miss the GTI, nor does it mean we won't buy another one someday. So it was with some excitement that I approached the task of installing our rear-facing convertible car seats in the long-term Mk VII 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Ideally, I'd like to have our primary car seat (a Tomy/The First Years True Fit C680 SI, pictured at top) installed in the coveted rear center position. Following up on the conversation thread from my Audi A3 car seat entry, the GTI has four lower latch anchors in the backseat, that is, two for each outboard position. And I did use the innermost LATCH anchors to install the car seat in the center position. Although I've read that my particular car seat allows you to do this, I haven't yet confirmed this in the documentation for my seat, which has been discontinued. And the GTI's owner's manual doesn't get specific about whether this is or isn't OK. (I know that most Britax seats allow it, but clearly, I need to do some more digging.)
But while possible, having this particular seat rear-facing in this position makes life very uncomfortable for both the driver and front passenger. I drove the GTI for about 30 minutes with this setup and just didn't like having my knees so close to the dash from the standpoint of comfort or safety. Notably, this was only possible because our long-term GTI has the DSG automated manual transmission; I couldn't have done this if I had to work a clutch pedal.
So I moved the seat to the rear passenger side.
Doing so really puts the squeeze on the front passenger's legs, whether it's my husband or me.
But as you can see, the car seat is a perfect match for our red GTI's interior. More importantly, it's very easy to get the seat secure, and my daughter was content in the seat.
As usual, I used a pool noodle to get the desired angle for a rear-facing installation. Here's a detail shot of the push-button LATCH connectors on this car seat. They're very easy to use. I also like how VW painted the anchors themselves red. In most other cars, they're unpainted metal and harder to see, especially in a dark interior when your view is partially obstructed by a large car seat.
If you really wanted the 2015 VW GTI to be a family car, though, you'd have to use a smaller convertible car seat. So out came our compact Safety 1st Guide 65. It doesn't fit as well in the rear center position as it did in our A3 sedan. The GTI's front seat-backs appear to be a smidge wider, and although you can wedge the car seat between them, it rubs up against them and limits your ability to adjust the front seats. (Note that I used the LATCH anchors to install the seat in the center, though a seatbelt installation would have worked just as well.)
Nevertheless, for adults of average height like my husband and me, there's ample room to sit comfortably up front. This car seat would definitely be better if you're planning to use the GTI as a family car. Unfortunately, my daughter isn't as comfortable in it and her head flops forward when she falls asleep. So if the GTI was my personal vehicle, I'd either use my gigantic First Years seat or, if I wanted to make things more comfortable for my spouse in the front passenger seat, I'd shop for a car seat with a shorter seat-back.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 6,592 miles