2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Long-Term Road Test - Wrap-Up

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Long-Term Road Test

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Read the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI introduction of this vehicle to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI's long-term updates.

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI

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What We Got
It's been one of the best hatchbacks on the road for decades, so when the Volkswagen GTI gets a top-to-bottom redesign we want to know more about it. This time around the latest GTI looks much the same, but the story under the hood is quite different. Its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder added 10 horsepower and 51 pound-feet of torque over the previous model, bringing totals to 210-hp and 258 lb-ft. There are also selectable drive modes that promise sharper throttle response and heavier steering when appropriate. Add in all the typical goodness that comes along with the GTI like a sharp interior and useful size and there's was no doubt we wanted one in the long-term fleet.

We ultimately chose the top-trim Golf GTI Autobahn. Standard were the six-speed DSG automated manual transmission, leather seats, navigation, sunroof, Fender audio system, dual-zone climate control and push-button start. Our decision to add the performance package cost another $1,495 but we felt it was worth the extra 10-hp, larger brakes and electronic limited-slip differential.

As-tested our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn with Performance package was $31,515. Here's how if fared after 12 months and just over 20,000 miles.


  • "More power is rarely looked down upon around here. Most cars get better when they have more guts underneath the hood, but our GTI isn't one of them, at least not all of the time. The problem is traction. Trying to send 210 horses through the front wheels doesn't always work very well. Spinning wheels and choppy acceleration often result and there's not much you can do about it other than lift." — Ed Hellwig

  • "The previous generation 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...it just wasn't up to the task.... This [2015 GTI] 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." — Brent Romans

2015 Audi A3


  • "If you use Interstate 40 most of the way, it's 502 miles from my home in Los Angeles to Grand Canyon Village in northern Arizona...I covered 1,201 miles in the GTI in two days...36.2 gallons of fuel, averaging 33.2 miles per gallon over the length of the trip...the best was 38.5 mpg." — Travis Langness

  • "We filled the GTI only five times last month with tanks ranging between 28.8 and 22.9 mpg, none of which changed our best or worst fills of 38.5 and 19.4 mpg, respectively. The reduction in highway mileage dropped our lifetime average one-tenth of an mpg from 27.5 to 27.4 mpg. Woo hoo." — Josh Jacquot


  • "Our GTI has good seats. Really good seats. Possibly you remember the wildly over-bolstered seats in our 2013 Ford Focus ST? They were polarizing.... That's where the GTI's seats shine. They provide the necessary lateral support without such ridiculous bolsters.... Its seats let me have both my driving position and the lateral support I want." — Josh Jacquot

  • "I called it a day after roughly 6 hours and 350 miles behind the wheel. The driver seat had more endurance than I expected, giving me a good 4-hour grace period before I fell victim to road butt. Its flat seat bottom was mostly to blame.... Ride quality stuck out the most along this stretch. The GTI rides soft across ruts, big and small, especially as compared to the competitive Mini Cooper and Mazda 3." — Mike Schmidt

2015 Audi A3

Cargo Space

  • "The GTI can store plenty of assorted odds and ends if you're careful about packing it. The 60-40 rear seats drop by squeezing a small plastic release on top of each seat. It's a shame they don't fold flat, but the angle isn't too severe." — Cameron Rogers

  • "If you're looking for the most cargo space (and probably the most useful cargo space) in the hot hatchback segment, the GTI is the one to choose." — Travis Langness


  • "For the first time in a very long time, I looked at the speedometer in a car and said to myself, 'Now that looks like the face of a nice watch.' Maybe it's the mix of standard and metric numbers that gives it that overloaded watch-face look, or maybe it's the clear, crisp numbers. Either way, it's a nice-looking piece that's good-looking and easy to read." — Ed Hellwig

  • "Our GTI's interior just strikes me as classy. Check out the metallic trim that Volkswagen applies to the steering wheel and surrounds for the gauges, air vents and touchscreen. Then there's the red stitching on the seats, steering wheel and shift boot. That's complemented by the red accent strip lighting on the interior door panels. The door sills have red illumination as well." — Brent Romans

Audio and Technology

  • "One of the first functions I came to appreciate in our GTI is its navigation system's interface. This is a small detail, but it's one I always notice. First, the zoom function is accomplished using a knob. Knobs are always better than buttons, especially touchscreen buttons. More importantly, zooming in is accomplished by turning clockwise. Zooming out happens when the knob is turned counterclockwise. Small detail, but one that I find very intuitive, like driving in a screw. Many German cars zoom out with a clockwise turn and I can't get my head around it." — Josh Jacquot

  • "The infotainment system in our long-term GTI is acting funny. A few weeks back, it refused to let me tune past channel 34 on satellite radio.... For a brief moment on Friday, I couldn't turn the volume up.... Later, as I was setting off for a drive to Lake Arrowhead, the GTI refused to 'acquire' the satellite radio signal in a place where previously it had no problem.... Satellite radio returned after letting the GTI sit overnight, but a new issue arose: The system would crash and reboot itself immediately after startup...it happened maybe once every three starts." — Carlos Lago

2015 Audi A3


  • "...not all tire-pressure monitoring systems are created equal. Some vehicles have a readout that gives you real-time information on each individual tire's pressure. Some can at least tell you which tire on the car is low. Others just tell you something's wrong and leave you to figure out the rest. Our GTI falls into the last group, unfortunately." — Brent Romans

  • "In case you're wondering, yes, key fob battery replacements are covered under VW's factory warranty. But the battery only cost nine bucks anyway, so this is one potential issue that out-of-warranty GTI owners needn't lose sleep over." — Josh Sadlier


  • "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." — Brent Romans

  • "Whatever the cause, this tire is a goner. The slash is deep and I can see cut nylon belts down in there. It could come apart suddenly and violently if subjected to too much stress. At least it's a rear tire, largely removed from the bulk of steering, acceleration and braking forces. Because of this I decided I could drive it back to the office." — Dan Edmunds

2015 Audi A3

Maintenance & Repairs

Regular Maintenance:
Routine service is due on the Golf GTI every 10,000 miles. Volkswagen pays the tab for the first 12 months or 10,000 miles so our first visit was free. At the second interval we paid $228 for recommended maintenance. Both appointments took place while we waited so the car didn't miss any time out of service.

Service Campaigns:
One recall for an ECM update arose during our test but it wasn't the extent of any open campaigns. A handful of infotainment system glitches plagued the GTI. Though the dealer investigated it and they didn't return, we were never confident the issues were fixed prior to our test ending.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
The EPA estimates fuel economy for the Golf GTI at 28 mpg in combined driving (25 city/33 highway). Over 20,000 miles we averaged 27.1 mpg. Our best single-tank of fuel achieved 38.5 mpg and a range of 480 miles.

Resale and Depreciation:
After 20,684 miles Edmunds TMV Calculator valued the GTI at $21,933 based on a private party sale. This reflected 27 percent depreciation from its original MSRP. For reference, our long-term and Mini Cooper depreciated 19 percent under similar circumstances.

Summing Up

Pros: Still one of the most fun-to-drive small cars on the road, refined ride quality feel great on long road trips, above-average driver seat, top-notch interior materials, more than 400 miles of range on a single tank, solid cargo capacity, minimal maintenance.

Cons: Resale value was not as high as competitors. Dual-clutch transmission lags at low speeds. Infotainment glitches came and went sporadically.

Bottom Line: The Golf GTI is still a versatile hatchback that is fun to drive fast. Impressive range and seat comfort make it suitable for long distances. Low-speed drivability is hampered by its dual-clutch transmission, but overall this is a car we enjoyed driving both in town and out on the highway.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $228.27 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: $616.90 for two tires
Warranty Repairs: Replace rear wiper cover, replace key fob battery, ECM software update
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 2
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: 1 waiting for tires
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 38.5 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 19.4 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 27.1 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $21,933 (private party sale)
Depreciation: $9,582 (27% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 20,684 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds with this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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