2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI: Surprisingly Strong and Vice-Free Power
December 16, 2014
How much power do you want from your front-wheel-drive sport compact? "A thousand horsepower!" would be the likely answer from my 10-year-old next-door neighbor. And why not, right? But as you likely know, there's a limit of how much power you can put down in a front-drive car before it all goes up in tire smoke and/or vexing torque steer.
Volkswagen upped the power on the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine fitted to its 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI. It's now listed at 210 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That's a healthy boost compared to the 200 hp and 207 lb-ft in the 2014 car. True, more power is available from the 252-hp Ford Focus ST or, if you don't mind buying used, an old Mazdaspeed 3. But the new GTI's power output is surprisingly strong and effective.
In our official test drive, our new GTI accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds (using launch control). That's quicker than the old GTI (6.4 seconds with DSG) as well as our long-term 2013 Focus ST, which posted a 6.6 second 0-60 mph time. The GTI has a better quarter-mile time, too at 14.5 seconds compared to the ST's 15.0 seconds.
But there's more to it than just numbers. Hit the gas in our 2015 GTI and it accelerates confidently. There's no drama, no lack of power at low rpm, and no torque steer that I've experienced so far. Redline is only 6,000 rpm, so it's not a revver like the Scion FR-S, for instance. But where the FR-S can sometimes seem like it makes more noise than speed, the GTI has actually surprised me on how effectively it gets up to highway speeds. Even if you're already rolling, just drop a gear or two and you're perfectly primed for cutting through city traffic or making a pass of a dawdling RV on the highway.
"More" is always attractive, but for this class of car, the GTI gets the horsepower and control balance down almost perfectly.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 3,289 miles