by Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor on October 12, 2015
When it comes to performance cars and hot hatches like our 2015 VW GTI, most manufacturers leave a little something on the table. And while that can leave the true enthusiasts whining and wanting for a more complete package, something that caters to their very narrow needs, it ensures most cars leave the factory with a good degree of compromise — something for everyone.
But there's always a room for improvement. There's always a half-step closer platform nirvana. Some manufacturers offer limited-run versions of their performance cars with more power, less suspension travel and a street credibility on the internet. Some offer in-house performance upgrades. These parts might have been cast off during the final vetting process as a half-step too far, but still well-sorted enough to sell as a package. It's automotive DLC.
These thoughts aren't particularly new ones to have about a GTI, but they are when you consider that I had them while ripping around in Focus ST.
by Jonathan Elfalan, Road Test Editor on October 5, 2015
Our former Intern Extraordinaire, Reese Counts, now turned full-time Vehicle Testing Assistant (applause), lauded our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI as harder, better, faster, and stronger than the generations of GTI that came before. While I don't disagree with his overall sentiment, there are elements in the older vintage that I prefer to the newest iteration out of Wolfsburg — or should I say Puebla, Mexico?
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on September 23, 2015
You must be wondering what Mount Everest has to do with anything. And what's all this talk about yards? We measure mountains in feet, don't we?
Exactly, but the software engineers that stand behind our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI must have missed that memo. Behold the wonders of a navigation system that displays elevation in yards.
It isn't all bad news. At least the elevation is clearly displayed right on the map. I like that part. But yards?
And the math doesn't even work out. The 3,000-foot parking space shown above should correspond to 1,000 yards, not 912 yards. Every fifth grader knows that.
By the time I got home I had a thought. But they couldn't have done that, could they?
August 6, 2015
How many ways can you adjust cruise control? More importantly, how many ways should you be able to adjust cruise control? It may not look like it from the photo, but our long-term 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI has three.
August 4, 2015
We've written quite a bit comparing our seventh-generation 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI to our former long-term sixth-gen 2010 GTI. That's part of the reason we have these cars. The general consensus is that the current GTI is an improvement in every way over the previous model. I don't disagree. The GTI lost weight, tightened up and gained power. The new car, like the old one, is really, really good.
I'm the proud owner of a fifth-gen 2006 GTI. Like others have said, everything on the MK7 is just a little better than the MK6. Compared to my MKV, everything is a lot better. I've yet to find something in our new GTI that's inferior to my 2006 GTI that can't be fixed with different options.
July 23, 2015
A 2,200-mile road trip to Colorado and back in our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI is a great way to see what kind of mileage it's capable of on the highway. But the problem is that in one direction is it climbing most of the way over some of the highest mountain passes in the lower 48 states. Then, on the way back, it's mostly downhill from Denver to Las Vegas.
So, while heading to Denver I got between 29 and 32 mpg. On the way back I got from 34 to almost 36 mpg, a record for this car. On one 100-mile stretch, I saw 40 mpg!
July 22, 2015
On my way to Colorado in our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, I had to make a quick stop in downtown Las Vegas. Heading back to the freeway, I saw this mural and knew I had to pose the GTI in front of it. The result was better than expected. The Tornado Red paint really pops and makes the car - and the art - look great.
July 21, 2015
"Great road trip car!" a friend of mind said when he heard I was driving our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI to Colorado and back. I was glad to hear him say that because my first choice had been our new 2008 Dodge Charger SRT8. That's my idea of a road trip car - plenty of room and lots of muscle to get up and over Vail Pass at 10,662 feet.
I was initially disappointed when I heard it was spoken for and I was assigned to the pint-sized VW.
July 6, 2015
I've mentioned in some previous updates that my fondness for Edmunds' long-term 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI largely stems from its dual-use nature. It's a fun-to-drive car that's also quite practical. For me, that practical part often involves shuttling my two small children around to school or summer camps.
Our GTI is great for this. The backseat is plenty roomy for munchkins (but still close enough to the front seat for me to grab or hand them items) and entry and exit for my kids is easy thanks to lightweight doors and decent-sized openings.
But it occurs to me that my feelings might be different if Edmunds had opted for a two-door GTI instead of a four-door. If the car was a two-door Golf GTI, I'd always have to help my children in and out of the backseat. Buckling them in to their safety or booster seats would be more cumbersome, too.
It wouldn't be the end of the world, of course. I've shuttled my kids around just fine in our Mustang, for example. But if VW gives you a choice, would you buy a two-door GTI?
June 29, 2015
I've been busy driving other cars in our long-term fleet and the last time I drove our 2015 Volkswagen GTI was about six months ago. I hadn't realized how much I miss this car. The strong turbo-4 power, upscale interior, hatchback/four-door utility and handsome styling are such a great combination. I don't need a new personal car right now, but if I did, the GTI would be high on my list.
That said, I've changed my mind on what kind of GTI I'd want.
June 24, 2015
With a free day on my calendar and the key to our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI in my pocket, I couldn't resist the call of the open road. My typical approach is to scroll around on Google Maps until I find an interesting-looking place that I've never visited, and then conscript my wife for companionship. In this case, I wanted to leave at 10 a.m. and be home by midnight, so I limited myself to about four hours of driving each way.
The winner? Oceano, Calif., a.k.a. the home of the Oceano Dunes. And if you want some additional commentary interspersed with dune photos, you'll just have to follow the jump.
June 19, 2015
I recently needed to haul away a large collection of broken-down cardboard boxes that had been building up at my house. It was a perfect job for Edmunds.com's long-term 2015 Volkswagen GTI. I just lowered the rear seats, no need for headrest removal or other shenanigans. You just squeeze a release button, the seatbacks plop right down, and you have a suddenly-roomy cargo area ready to be filled with cardboard.
June 5, 2015
I have never seen this before. Our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI just told me it needs a new key fob battery. I can't remember this warning on any other car we've tested. Maybe because we only keep them for a year? Maybe VW is the only one that does it?
Has anyone seen this before?
May 13, 2015
After a run/bike/run workout at O'Neill Regional Park last week in preparation for an upcoming mountain bike duathlon, I stopped into the Trabuco Canyon General Store for a Coke and a Snickers. Negated some of my hard work, yes, but I was tired and hungry.
I was in the store for only a minute or two, but when I got back into our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI and fired it up, the infotainment screen didn't turn on. Worse, as I put the gear selector in reverse, the backup camera didn't come on either. I waited a few seconds, but still nothing from the screen.
And then, yes, I was forced to use my mirrors and even turn my head to look behind me before backing out. The horror!
May 11, 2015
Ed already told you how great the gauges are in our long-term 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI. I'd like to add that they are particularly stunning at night. I noticed them on the way home from the grocery store this week.
April 22, 2015
Years ago we had a 2010 GTI in our fleet. Certain editors were none too impressed by its non-defeatable stability control, soft reflexes and lame all-season tires. Another editor thought said editors were nuts.
I was intrigued. Does the new GTI truly address the concerns levied upon the earlier car? To find out, I drove it.
April 20, 2015
As an avid left-foot braker and habitual jack rabbit starter, I first want to apologize for my actions. Surely they have an adverse effect on a vehicle's fuel mileage.
March 26, 2015
Stereotypes have a basis in reality, and certainly L.A. traffic is not an exaggerated thing. Every once in a while (or for about 19 seconds at a time), there's a moment of free-flowing traffic on the notoriously choppy 405 freeway that enables a quick hand-held video from behind the wheel. Click through to see how our long-term 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI fared on the thoroughfare.
March 25, 2015
This shouldn't be as rare as it is, but the rearview camera in our long-term 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI test car remains active despite shutting off the audio unit. I discovered this because I was listening to AM radio as I entered Edmunds.com headquarters underground parking garage, didn't want to hear the static any longer and shut off the audio. More often than you might realize, this can also shut off the camera's display (if it uses the same display as the audio unit). Not so in the GTI: The black screen came back to life as I slipped the shifter into R and backed into a parking stall. Nice.
March 17, 2015
Like many of our editors on staff, I like the overall feel of our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, from the way the doors close to the precise steering to the crisp shifts from the DSG automatic transmission. This GTI is clearly a step above your average compact hatchback.
March 13, 2015
Are you one of those people who refuse to refuel your vehicle until it's nearly empty? I'm sure there is a well-know personality type like this, but I am not that guy.
Nonetheless, I found the fuel gauge in our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI getting low and this message popped up on the touchscreen: "Warning: Fuel tank almost empty. Do you want to find a gas station nearby?" Grammar aside, that's pretty cool. I was close to home and knew precisely where they were, but clicked "Search" just to see how accurate the list would be.
March 12, 2015
Usually this type of rear-wiper malady belongs to an SUV or crossover, but our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI hatchback also has a rear-wiper. Shouldn't that missing cover have been robust enough to withstand a car wash? Next time we run the car in for scheduled maintenance, we'll see how much it cost to replace.
March 3, 2015
From the first time I set off in our long-term 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, I heard a rattle. It was coming from somewhere behind me, and would only pop up during travel over bumpy or coarse roads. I figured something was left behind in the cargo area by the previous driver. I'll check it when I stop, I told myself. Naturally, I'd forget about it by time I'd reach my destination, only to be reminded again when I got back to driving the GTI.
When I finally did peruse the cargo area, I found no extraneous objects back there and that all was in order. It was later that I found the source of the rattle (it should be obvious, what with the headline and lead photo...) and understood why I was probably the first on staff to notice it.
January 30, 2015
I'm certain that if this 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI were my personal car, this slot would permanently house my key card that actuates the office building's parking arm. It's snug-fitting and quite deep, nearly enveloping the entire card, so that there's not a chance of the card popping out or getting in the way. I'm guessing those other two slots are for fitty-cent worth of quarters. Right?
January 29, 2015
Our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI is equipped with the DSG dual-clutch automated-manual transmission. While it's not as clever as Porsche's similar PDK transmission (still the benchmark), VW's DSG does a very good job with smooth, nearly seamless shifts in typical driving and rapid shifts when things get going. The one scenario where it exhibits some less-than-optimal behavior is bumper-to-bumper traffic. When in Drive, the car sometimes starts from a standstill in second gear, often short-shifts (to the next, higher gear) at a very low rpm just as I go to the brake and once there and is loath to downshift when I squeeze either the brake or the throttle.
January 27, 2015
The original GTI, the Rabbit GTI, (the Golf was initially called the Rabbit in the U.S.) debuted in the states for 1983. It was something of a landmark car, as it started the "hot hatch" segment and put to rest the belief that driving a small, practical and economical car had to be a snooze fest.
Being something of a car trivia buff, I wondered how our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI compared to the original in terms of size and performance. What a difference three decades makes...
January 23, 2015
One of my best friends recently bought his first house, and I offered a bit of extra muscle to move his considerable amount of stuff to the new place. Muscle being a euphemism, as lifting anything heavier than an empty hamster cage triggers a medically alarming amount of perspiration and ends with my damaged body crumpled in the fetal position with a slipped disc. I had the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI that weekend, and it doesn't exactly have enough storage space to move an entire apartment. However, I was still able to take boxes and assorted items with the rear seats folded.
January 12, 2015
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI has been named the 2015 North American Car of the Year.
Michael Horn, CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America said, "Volkswagen is thrilled to start 2015 with the Golf and Golf GTI taking home the incredible North American Car of the Year title. This award highlights our achievements and hard work in the past year, and we are confident that the Golf family will continue to pave the way for the brand in the year ahead."
January 9, 2015
We still have plenty of time to form our collective take on this new-generation GTI. Our former 2010 model had fans and detractors. Most of us liked its athletic character and slick gearbox. Our more hardcore drivers hated its understeering softness and stability control intervention when really given the wood.
January 6, 2015
A few days ago, I was talking with a friend of mine who's been thinking about buying a new car. Actually, he's been thinking for months now, and I've heard his whole thought process during that time that has run the gamut from a Honda CR-V to a used Jeep Wrangler to a brand new luxury sport sedan like the BMW 3 Series or Lexus IS 350.
Anyway, I think he's finally getting closer to the point when he's going to buy a car to replace his old Lexus IS. That sense of urgency could also have something to do with the fact that he and his wife just had their first child. He's got a lot to think about. So I simplified it for him. I said, "Just buy a 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI."
December 30, 2014
There have been a couple of times now when I've seen a GTI on the road and thought: "Is that a new GTI or an old GTI?" The styling changes for the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI are pretty subtle. I've put together a few pictures to show the differences.
The first photo is our new, seventh-generation 2015 GTI, of course. Next is a 2014 VW GTI (photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America). It's a Driver's Edition, so it has the special "Laguna" wheels, but the photo is an effective close-up of the sixth-generation car's front-end styling.
December 11, 2014
If you look through the list of past cars we've had in the Edmunds long-term fleet you'll see that we had a 2010 GTI. I still have fond memories of that car, and it remains one of my all-time favorite cars we've had as long-term tests. Now we have the newest generation 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI model in for another year-long go-around. Right on!
November 21, 2014
November 14, 2014
With such a large, glass roof on our 2015 Volkswagen GTI, I was a little surprised by a couple of interesting details. First, is that it slides back at all. As we've seen from other cars with enormous glass-panel roofs (like the Audi A5), they usually just tilt and don't slide open. Our GTI's roof pops up and slides quite a distance, in fact.
Also, it holds another nice surprise.
November 7, 2014
We're still investigating from which feature this warning originates in our 2015 Volkswagen GTI, but we do appreciate it. I don't have the owner's manual handy at the moment, so I did a cursory search on Volkswagen's handy Know Your VW Web site, but I came up empty. My gut says that this message is part of the traffic function of the navigation system.
November 6, 2014
While backing out of my garage in our 2015 Volkswagen GTI, I noticed the fine-tuning options for the rearview camera. Since we're now living in a world full of screens, it seems natural then to have these adjustments available. I appreciate being able to tweak brightness, contrast and color, and I did so.
November 5, 2014
It is well into the internal-combustion engine's second century, and yet we still need to break-in an engine before using it to its full potential. We crossed that magic mile-marker in our 2015 Volkswagen GTI Autobahn about 350 miles ago, so we're scheduling it for its first, full test at the track.
October 31, 2014
So which all-new four-door Volkswagen product with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission have we just added to our long-term fleet?
The A3 and GTI share an underlying structure, but performance, on-road feel and, most importantly, price keep these compacts from walking down the same path. The base price of a GTI is roughly $5,000 less than a bare-bones A3, and you get more engine for the money, but miss out on in-car WiFi. You get the idea.
So the GTI ends up being the hell-raising younger brother to the cool and collected A3, but that's not the GTI's real competition. Two years ago, the wicked Ford Focus ST barged onto the scene with aggressive styling and more horsepower, and proceeded to whoop the GTI in performance testing and on mountain roads. We quickly added one to our long-term fleet and fell in lust. But we compared it to the old GTI, and with the newest iteration finally here, we need to see if the old girl still has some fight in her.