2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
by the Edmunds Experts
- 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.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI has been completely redesigned for 2015.
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.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI S 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.93 per gallon for premium unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$169/mo for Golf GTI S
Golf GTI S
Avg. Compact Car
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.
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.
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.
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.
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
My perfect all-around car
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI 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.
5 out of 5 stars
Love my hot hatch!
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI 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.
5 out of 5 stars
The Ultimate Commuter
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI 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.
4.75 out of 5 stars
Unbelievable car! But beware...
Justin Houston, 03/11/2015
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI 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 $$$.
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI videos
ALISTAIR WEAVER: Volkswagen Golf GTI versus Ford Focus ST-- two hot [INAUDIBLE] icons go head to head in the famous Edmunds Comparison. Hello. I'm Alistair Weaver, your host and your referee. And I'm joined by two esteemed Edmunds editors, Mike Monticello making a case for the ST and James Riswick advocating for GTI. The first category up is driving experience. James, tell me about the handling of the GTI. JAMES RISWICK: Well, the new GTI is playful and encourages you to drive hard. It's a heck of a lot of fun. And at the same time, it has more power for 2015, and it doesn't feel all frenetic like the Focus ST does, although you might actually prefer that. MIKE MONTICELLO: Well, I kind of do. I mean most cars these days are kind of boring, and the Focus ST is far from boring. I liked it when you get hard on the throttle exiting a turn. It wants to rip the steering out of your hands. But more than that, this is one of the best handling front wheel drive cars ever made. When you lift off the throttle through a turn, the tail actually steps out. But even better than the handling is how much power it has. It has 252 horsepower out of this turbo four cylinder. There's power everywhere on the tack, and I will admit that the GTI is a little quicker, 0 to 60, but that's if you get the performance package, and if you get the DSG, and you have launch control. Out on the road, because the Focus ST has more torque, it actually feels faster. JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, actually, the power is a lot more similar than it used to be. But so is the ride comfort. The GTI does not have the clear ride advantage that it used to have. MIKE MONTICELLO: Yeah, that's what the GTI was known for, and the Focus ST I think is actually a little more comfortable. JAMES RISWICK: Yeah, I might have to agree with you there. But with the GTI, you can get it with an automatic transmission. Would we get it with an automatic transmission? MIKE MONTICELLO: Absolutely not. JAMES RISWICK: No, because the manual is really good on the GTI. But hey, at least it can. ALISTAIR WEAVER: For me, this is all about what you want from your sport compact or your hot hatch. The Golf might be marginally easier to live with day by day, but the Focus is much more fun to drive. And that's why it gets the first point. Moving on to value, surely Ford beats Volkswagen. Right, Mike? MIKE MONTICELLO: Well, I think the Focus ST does give you more for the money. I mean right off the bat, it costs a few hundred dollars less than GTI, and it's an even bigger price difference if you opt for the DSG paddle shift transmission. Then you're talking even more money. JAMES RISWICK: Well, maybe so, but the GTI does give you more stuff for your money. You have heated front seats. You have heated mirrors, LED fog lights. You have emergency telematics, satellite radio, and power reclining seats with the four door. Plus, it's bigger. At the same time, the GTI gets better fuel economy-- 28 miles per gallon combined with both transmissions. The Focus-- 26 miles per gallon combined. MIKE MONTICELLO: And what's that going to save you? Like $50 a year? JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. MIKE MONTICELLO: But I mean I think you also got to look at in terms of value, Edmunds's true cost to own showed with the last gen GTI that it would cost about $3,000 more than a Focus ST over a five-year period thanks to depreciation and higher insurance and repair costs. So you got to think about that too when you talk about value. ALISTAIR WEAVER: So not only does the Focus offer more bang for buck-- it's also the sounder long-term investment. It gets another point. But surely, the GTI can strike back with its fabled interior quality and effortless German chic. JAMES RISWICK: It absolutely does, but I would argue that it's actually its interior space that really wins the day, because it has a much more usable back seat, especially for adults. And it has a more useful trunk. Sure, it has one cubic foot less space in the Focus, but with the seats down, it's eight cubic feet more. You know, it is a little more utilitarian, especially with that squared off roofline. A little better suited to carrying around your mountain bikes and whatever outdoor leisure activity stuff you use. MIKE MONTICELLO: Well, you know I like throwing bikes in the back of cars. That's true. But what I want to talk about is the Focus ST's Recaro front sports seats you can get in this car. Yes, it's part of a $2,500 package, but they're super well-bolstered. You know, it totally fits with the driving enthusiast environment inside this car. Thick rim steering wheel, pedals placeed really well for heel and toeing. This is really the driver's car. ALISTAIR WEAVER: I do like the ST's sense of fun, but for its better quality and for its more practical interior, my point goes to the Golf. So it's the final round, and the famous wildcard, where anything goes, and I get to choose the points. So Mike, to parlez francais, does the ST have a certain je ne sais quoi? MIKE MONTICELLO: Je ne said what? Uh, you know, for me, the wildcard for the Focus ST is that you can only get it with a six speed manual transmission. No automatics, and while that might seem like a wildcard for the GTI, it's a wildcard for the Focus, because Ford is basically saying, we only want real driving enthusiasts to buy this car. No posers allowed. If you can't use a clutch pedal, then we don't want you buying our car. JAMES RISWICK: So they want fewer sales, basically, is what you're saying. MIKE MONTICELLO: I guess it sounds like that. JAMES RISWICK: Yeah. Well, the thing I like about the GTI is that it's less boy racery. It's a little more grown up in appearance. I'd be more happy to show up on a first date in the GTI than in the Focus ST. The other thing about the GTI-- it's available on a two-door body style, and you can get it with tartan upholstery. I'm half Scottish, and frankly, that counts a lot for me. MIKE MONTICELLO: Tartan? So it's bad enough I got to translate Canadian dialect on a weekly basis. Now I got to translate Scottish. You're in America. We say plaid. ALISTAIR WEAVER: Well, I'm afraid I'm with Mike here. You buy your sport compact, but you want a fun driving experience. And the GTI, while a fine car, is maybe a bit too sensible for its own good. So one point to the ST. So overall, it isn't even close. The ST gets three points. The GTI, a mere one. Tell us, what do you think should have won? Or would you throw in a wild card of your own? And for more information, be sure to explore edmunds.com.
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI vs 2014 Ford Focus ST Comparison Test
In this comparison test, the redesigned 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI versus the 2014 Ford Focus ST. Editors James Riswick and Mike Monticello debate the merits of each hot hatch, including their performance, comfort, interior quality, cargo and passenger space, value, fuel economy and… which is more fun to drive. Which sport compact hatchback would you buy: the VW GTI or the Focus ST?
2015 Golf GTI Highlights
|Combined MPG||28 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$169/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||front wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|