2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review

Pros & Cons

  • Strong and fuel-efficient turbocharged engine
  • sporty handling
  • versatile and roomy hatchback design
  • high-quality interior.
  • Automated manual transmission's sleepy responses in slow-moving traffic.
Other years
Volkswagen Golf GTI for Sale
List Price Range
$12,111 - $21,995

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The redesigned 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI might not look much different on the outside, but a stronger engine and enhanced handling make it even more fun to drive. It's an excellent choice for a performance-oriented hatchback.

Vehicle overview

Few cars can be both fun and practical, but the Volkswagen Golf GTI has done it for more than a quarter of a century. Combining the sensible nature of the Golf hatchback with various performance enhancements, the GTI is the iconic hot hatch for the everyman. Some GTIs have fared better than others through the years, but we're pretty sure the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI will rank as one of the best yet.

This year's full redesign is one reason why. Visually, the changes are subtle, with reshaped headlights and taillights as well as sharper creases on the body's side. The new GTI is just a bit longer and wider than the outgoing one, but a new sloping hood design gives it a shorter, more dynamic look. Inside the differences are also slight. Rear seat and cargo space increase slightly, and that's a good thing. The GTI's interior was already one of the better ones in terms of design and quality.

More substantial changes lie underneath the steel skin. VW has introduced an all-new body structure with revised suspension tuning to give the GTI more athletic handling this time around (albeit with an unfortunate decline in ride quality this year). Hit the gas and the new GTI moves faster, too. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine now generates 210 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, gains of 10 hp and 51 lb-ft compared to the outgoing model. An optional package adds 10 more hp along with larger front and rear brakes and an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip front differential -- a GTI first -- that can help the hatch power out of turns more quickly. An optional adaptive suspension is another new addition.

Put it together and you've got the GTI's traditional strengths of refinement, practicality and quality, but now with enhanced agility and performance. VW isn't the only brand vying for your hot hatch dollars, of course. For rowdier acceleration and handling, the Ford Focus ST sets the standard. It's noticeably less expensive, too. We're also fond of the smaller but highly customizable 2015 Mini Cooper S, which was recently redesigned and offers tech-oriented features you can't get on the GTI. The 2015 Subaru WRX is a good option if you want all-wheel drive.

Regardless of your personal hot hatch preferences, though, the GTI's well-rounded excellence should merit a place on your must-see short list.

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI models

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI is a two- or four-door hatchback offered in three trim levels. Standard features for the base GTI S two-door include 18-inch alloy wheels, LED foglights, a rear spoiler, heated mirrors, a sport-tuned suspension, cruise control, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, rear 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through, a 5.8-inch touchscreen audio interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, satellite radio, iPod integration and VW Car-Net telematics. Four-door versions of the GTI S also receive power reclining front seats.

Stepping up to the GTI SE trim adds a sunroof, automatic headlights and wipers, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, leather upholstery and a Fender premium audio system. The range-topping GTI Autobahn trim tops off the features list with a navigation system, a 10-way power driver seat and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The optional Driver Assistance package adds front and rear parking sensors and a forward collision warning system. The Lighting package gets you bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights and cornering lights. You can also select 18-inch wheels with summer tires or the Performance package (late availability) that includes an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip front differential, larger front and rear brakes and an additional 10 hp. An adaptive damping suspension system is also available but only in conjunction with the Performance package.

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2015 Highlights

The Volkswagen Golf GTI has been completely redesigned for 2015.

Performance & mpg

The front-wheel-drive 2015 VW Golf GTI uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 210 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The optional Performance package increases output to 220 hp. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automated manual (VW's DSG) is optional.

During Edmunds testing, a four-door 2015 VW Golf GTI with the DSG transmission and Performance package went from zero to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. That's slightly quicker than average for a sporty compact car, and more than a second quicker than a standard Golf. A two-door GTI with the manual transmission (and no Performance package) reached 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.

The EPA's estimates for fuel economy are 28 mpg combined (25 city/34 highway) for the manual transmission and 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway) for the DSG.


Standard safety features for the 2015 VW Golf GTI include antilock disc brakes, automatic hill-hold, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. A post-crash braking system is also standard and automatically applies the brakes after an impact to reduce the likelihood of a secondary crash. VW's Car-Net emergency telematics is standard with features that include automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle location and geo-fencing (which allows parents to set boundaries for teenage drivers). A forward collision warning system and front and rear parking sensors are optional.

In Edmunds tests, a Golf GTI fitted with optional summer tires came to a stop from 60 mph in 105 feet, which is an excellent distance and shorter than average for an affordable performance car with summer tires.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the related 2015 VW Golf earned the highest score of "Good" in the moderate-overlap and small-overlap frontal-offset impact tests. It also earned a "Good" rating in the side-impact, roof-strength and seats/head restraints (whiplash protection) tests.


The 2015 VW Golf GTI lives up to its hot hatch heritage with sharp handling and steering, brisk acceleration and a rather burly engine and exhaust note. These are all best exploited on a tight and twisting mountain road, where the GTI playfully bounds from curve to curve, all while instilling plenty of driver confidence. Though all 2015 GTIs are great fun to drive, the Performance package version is worth considering if you're planning to take on challenging roads or the occasional track day. The limited-slip differential in this package helps pull the car's nose around the apex of a turn, resulting in quicker progress for more advanced drivers.

Either the slick-shifting manual or the well-executed DSG automated manual transmission is a good choice. Especially compared to traditional automatics, the DSG is quick and smooth, and its downshifts are rev-matched with perfection. However, we've found that DSG can be frustratingly slow to respond to your gas pedal inputs when you want to accelerate quickly from a stop or you're trundling along in heavy traffic.

We're also not as fond of the way the new GTI rides. Perhaps in VW's quest for greater handling precision, the GTI has lost some of its hallmark ride comfort that used to make it such an appealing daily driver. Although it's still comfortable enough for long drives, the GTI can get pretty harsh on rough pavement. Competitors like the Ford Focus ST and Subaru WRX provide an equally thrilling driving experience and have a marginally better ride quality. Models with the optional adaptive suspension are more forgiving over imperfect pavement, but not enough so to justify the added expense if you weren't already planning to get a GTI with the Performance package. We've yet to drive a 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI with the standard all-season tires (summer tires are optional across the board), and it's indeed possible that the less aggressive rubber will translate to a smoother ride.


The 2015 Volkswagen GTI's interior features well-grained materials that are soft to the touch and a cabin design that is, while somewhat austere, comfortable and even sporty, thanks to bold red stitching. Buttons and switches are placed close to the driver and offer intuitive, simple control. The 5.8-inch touchscreen is a tad small compared to others, and the graphics aren't as crisp as on some competitor screens, but it works well and is easily read at a glance. But the large iPhone connector plug can require you to remove the phone's case and remains a critical gripe, especially with the ubiquity of simple USB ports. The navigation system also disappoints with its inability to overlay traffic information on the map. Instead, it lists traffic incidents in the vicinity.

Front seats provide ample support and comfort, even during long-distance driving stints, and not at the sacrifice of rear seat passengers. The new GTI's added leg- and shoulder room make the small hatch feel big, although the low-mounted rear seat cushions are best suited to smaller passengers. Up to 22.8 cubic feet of cargo can be accommodated behind the rear seats, while folding the seats flat provides a class-leading 52.7 cubic feet of space.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

My perfect all-around car
SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
I bought a black on black SE with the manual as soon as the MK7 was available. So far I've put 1300 miles on it in 2 weeks, including a trip to NJ and back. I can say that the car is not only very fun to drive, but it's also comfortable on a road trip. Over the hills and mountains of PA I averaged 33 mpg, which is pretty solid if you ask me. Handling is sharp, the seats hug you, and the build quality reminds me of more pricey German cars.
Love my hot hatch!
SE 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
I have just put the first thousand miles on my 2015 GTI SE and could not be happier. The quality of the car, the performance, the PERFECT driving position all add up to a great car for a driving enthusiast like myself. If I have any gripe it is the car is very harsh over any imperfection in the road such as a pothole (not even a big one). This is undoubtedly down to stiff suspension and low profile tires.
The Ultimate Commuter
SE 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
I had a 2012 GTI with the DSG. The new 2015 redesign is a huge improvement. Its brings better driving dynamics to the table in almost every category while including some great interior/tech features to polish things off. I wish i could have waited for the performance pack but the timing (my warranty was up) and price on this new model was just too good.
Unbelievable car! But beware...
Justin Houston,03/11/2015
S 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM)
I know the title of my review will give people pause, but fear not. I've had my GTI for a little over a week. When I first drove it home, the ride was bone-rattling hard and bouncy and the car sat really high in the front. Huge gaps between the front wheels and fenders. Turns out that the dealer forgot to remove the transport blocks from the front struts during the PDI. It takes about 5 minutes to remove them yourself and it's easy. Now I love the car. It rides and drives so nice. Reminds me of my Audi(sniffle). Great power without being too much. Can't say enough about this car. Would've paid 10K more and it STILL would've been a great value for the $$$.

More about the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI
More About This Model

Quick Summary
Though an all-new model, the 2015 Volkswagen GTI feels more like a very subtle refinement of the formula Volkswagen has been tweaking for decades. It may have slightly more horsepower than the GTI it replaces and the nav screen and interior may have a few more refinements, but this new car doesn't push any boundaries. It looks good, rips through the canyons and doesn't beat you over the head with racy elements.

What Is It?
The Volkswagen GTI is the hot hatch that invented the hot-hatch segment, and the formula hasn't changed. Start with a standard Golf hatchback, jack up the horsepower, throw on a sporty suspension and offer a few unique interior details like plaid seats.

The 2015 GTI is all new and slightly larger than the car it replaces. It still comes standard with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder but it's a new-generation engine that delivers 10 more horsepower than last year's 200-hp version. For 2015, there's also an optional Performance Pack that boosts output to 220 hp along with the addition of an electronic limited-slip differential (e-LSD) and larger brakes.

Our test car had the Performance Pack and it's a nice addition. Sending 220 horses through the front wheels is often a recipe for disaster (or lame, one-wheel burnouts) so the e-LSD helps the GTI dig itself out of corners with less tire squeal. All GTIs come with a six-speed manual transmission as standard equipment. A six-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG) is optional across the board and it's what we tested here.

2015 Volkswagen GTI

What Body Styles and Trims Are Available?
As before, you can get a GTI with either two or four doors. The standard equipment list is long and includes 18-inch wheels and tires, LED foglights, tartan cloth upholstery, a touchscreen stereo with iPhone integration and Bluetooth.

Want more? Step on up, son, to the SE. Sunroof. Automatic headlights. Keyless ignition. Rearview camera. Leather. More stereo.

Still not satisfied? There's the Autobahn package that adds navigation, a power driver seat and dual-zone climate control. Options include the Driver Assistance package (front and rear parking sensors, a forward collision warning system); the Lighting package (bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights); summer tires; and the Performance Pack that can be bolstered by a further optional adaptive suspension.

Base price for a two-door, manual-transmission GTI is $24,395 while the four-door goes for $24,995. An Autobahn edition four-door with the DSG starts at $30,695. Our test car was a GTI SE with the $1,495 Performance Pack, no charge summer tires and DSG transmission. It carried a sticker price of $31,410.

How Does It Drive Around Town?
Remember a few sentences ago when we noted that the GTI comes standard with 18-inch wheels and tires? They do the GTI no favors in the ride quality department. Our test car was equipped with the optional summer tires with relatively short 40-series sidewalls. Roughly translated, this means there was very little rubber between the road and the wheel to help keep the ride smooth.

Pair this with the GTI's stiff suspension and you've got a recipe for a Teutonic bounce-house. The ride isn't bad by performance car standards, but the GTI has set a high benchmark for itself, and the sometimes-harsh ride didn't meet our expectations.

2015 Volkswagen GTI

How Does It Really Drive?
If ride quality is your primary concern, a Golf might be a better choice. When driven the way a GTI was originally intended to be driven, this 2015 is, in a word, terrific.

Though we have talented test drivers and spent significant time gathering test numbers, the results don't tell the whole story. Zero to 60 mph comes up in 5.9 seconds (with 1 foot of rollout) and the quarter-mile passes in 14.5 seconds at 97.7 mph.

Not bad numbers, especially for the class. The numbers are from a dead stop and in this type of scenario, as well as in slow stop-and-go traffic, Volkswagen's DSG transmission is out of its element. Slow to react and with tons of intentional clutch slippage, the GTI doesn't get out of the hole very quickly. Compounding the issue, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder doesn't make much power below about 2,800 rpm.

Out on a mountain road, however, the DSG is a wizard, effortlessly switching down three or more gears to keep the turbocharged four-cylinder humming in its high-rpm sweet spot. In these conditions, the GTI never felt slow, with ample power all the way to redline. Thanks to the Performance Pack and its larger brakes at all four corners, the GTI slows as confidently as it corners, with firm, reassuring pedal action.

Clearly, though, the GTI isn't meant to be a brute but when the road gets wiggly, it's a heckuva dance partner. Up front, the new electronic LSD reduces torque steer and wheelspin, letting you get into the throttle sooner and harder than should be possible from a front-driver. The real bit of brilliance comes from the back, though, as the GTI actually oversteers.

Nothing dramatic, mind you: It's all very tame, predictably safe and managed by the electronic stability control. Flick the GTI into a tight corner, let off the throttle slowly and as the front settles in, the back rotates around and makes that corner seem a lot less tight. When people talk about steering a car with the throttle, this is what they mean. Unfortunately, this trait magnifies itself on the constant back-forth-back-forth of our slalom test, where the GTI recorded a slightly disappointing 67-mph run.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Does It Return?
The EPA estimates the 2015 Volkswagen GTI will return 28 mpg in combined driving (25 city/33 highway). During our testing we recorded an average mpg of only 24. Our best tank matched the EPA's highway rating of 33 mpg.

2015 Volkswagen GTI

What's the Interior Like?
Apparently Volkswagen hasn't figured out how to do plaid leather yet, because our well-equipped tester had the optional all-black leather interior. Still, as with all current Volkswagen products, the 2015 GTI's interior is quite nice. There's nothing terribly flashy or interesting about the interior here; it's simply a well-thought-out cabin with nice materials and quality construction.

The only dead giveaway that this is anything special is the steering wheel. On the GTI it's leather-wrapped, fat, flat-bottomed and covered in red stitching. And while those seats don't have a flashy pattern, they are very well bolstered, with good lumbar support and enough adjustments for even tall drivers.

Its backseats are also suitable for real-size adults. Entry is easy to those seats and there's enough headroom that they don't feel like a penalty box. But if you're not into the whole passenger thing, the seats can fold down to seriously expand the cargo-carrying capacity.

What Are Its Closest Competitors?
Ford Focus ST: With the passing of the Mazdaspeed 3, the Ford Focus ST is perhaps the only real competition to the GTI and, well, that's not great for the VW. Though it has an unnecessarily flashy look and boy-racer seats, the Focus ST has more power and a better ride than the GTI. While the GTI may have invented the hot-hatch category, the Focus ST is running away with the crown.

Mini Cooper: It's a hatchback and has a turbocharged engine, but the Mini isn't quite in the same performance league as the GTI and the Focus ST.

Subaru WRX: The hatchback version is gone, but the sedan continues with a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine that delivers a healthy 268 hp to all four wheels. Not nearly as refined as the GTI, but every bit its equal and more when it comes to performance.

Why Should You Consider This Car?
The 2015 Volkswagen GTI strikes a very good balance of quality, refinement and all-out driving fun for an affordable price. If you want a fast car that won't get the attention of the lawman or your date's dad, the GTI is perfect.

Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
The ride quality is on the firm side and the big wheels and tires that make it that way are standard. If you want all-out performance, there are faster, more powerful cars at this price that will leave the GTI in their dust.

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

Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Overview

The Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI is offered in the following submodels: Golf GTI Hatchback. Available styles include S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), SE 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), S 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), S 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), SE 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Autobahn 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S w/Performance Package 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), SE w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), S w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), SE w/Performance Package 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), S w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), SE w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), Autobahn w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), S w/Performance Package 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM), Autobahn w/Performance Package 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M), and SE w/Performance Package 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6AM). Pre-owned Volkswagen Golf GTI models are available with a 2.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 210 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes with front wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed automated manual. The Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 60000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI?

Price comparisons for Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI trim styles:

  • The Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn is priced between $13,990 and$18,995 with odometer readings between 36728 and129401 miles.
  • The Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE is priced between $16,900 and$21,995 with odometer readings between 18551 and102489 miles.
  • The Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI S is priced between $12,111 and$15,900 with odometer readings between 50358 and127828 miles.
  • The Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI S w/Performance Package is priced between $16,990 and$20,538 with odometer readings between 59764 and69949 miles.
  • The Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Autobahn w/Performance Package is priced between $21,995 and$21,995 with odometer readings between 46631 and46631 miles.
  • The Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI SE w/Performance Package is priced between $19,995 and$19,995 with odometer readings between 66905 and66905 miles.

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Which used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTIS are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI for sale near. There are currently 16 used and CPO 2015 Golf GTIS listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $12,111 and mileage as low as 18551 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI.

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Should I lease or buy a 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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