Used 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE Diesel Review

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE Diesel.

Most helpful consumer reviews

TDI - Dirty Emissions
TDI SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)
I'm motivated to post this review in light of the news that Volkswagen installed a "defeat device" algorithm on its emissions systems for its TDI vehicles that, in short, makes it appear it emits far less nitrogen oxide during emissions testing than it does during normal driving conditions. In short, folks, the TDI Golf and other TDI vehicles in the lineup from VW emit somewhere between 10-40 times the upper limit of acceptable (as determined by the EPA) of nitrogen oxide, a compound that is implicated in smog and worsening of pulmonary diseases such as asthma. Volkswagen apparently did this for years. When I learned about them, I wanted to buy a TDI vehicle in 2010, waited some time and eventually happily bought a 2015 VW Golf TDI in 8/2015. One month later in 9/2015 this issue comes to light and I find that the vehicle I bought in part for high MPG numbers inviting comparisons to some hybrids emits a huge amount of air pollutant. And while this is an issue VW will address with the EPA, it is me, the consumer, who was deceived by the marketing of the TDI lineup which resulted in a sale for VW. Talk about being suckered. If it was a bad component of the suspension or something less maleficent than intentionally misleading the consumer, I would not be so hot about this. Trust me, waiting a few years to buy something and then finding out you should have waited one additional month *really* sucks. Does the car perform well? Yes. Do I get 39-40MPG regularly with spirited driving and 40-50% city driving miles? Yes. Is the interior high quality? Yes. Did I love it prior to the 9/2015 news reports about the emissions being hugely misrepresented? Yes. Is my heart broken? Yes. And this will result in the loss of my business for the manufacturer in the future. There are perfectly lovely Mazda 3s and Ford Focus hatches out there for you. Edmunds rates them highly. Buy them. Save yourself a headache and stick it to a manufacturer that made its business over the last few years in part by intentionally misleading its customers.
TDI Golf
Eobert W Bahnsen,06/14/2018
TDI SE 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)
I have owned and operated diesel Golf and Jetta vehicles since 1984; with great pleasure. I'll not purchase another. My local dealership is and has been wonderful; the people are excellent, and as frustrated as I. VW corporate should be, well never mind. My last purchase was a TDI Golf, part of the diesel issue. Volkswagen corporate is making it very, very frustrating. They have wasted my time, the dealerships time, and fuel/maintenance costs. I do not have an opinion if they designed the "clean up" of their lies to be near impossible to resolve for the consumer or not. Personally, I've never experienced a more drawn out, inflexible, or frustrating process.

Edmunds Summary Review of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE Diesel

Pros & Cons

  • Versatile and roomy hatchback design
  • refined interior
  • strong acceleration
  • great fuel economy from available diesel engine.
  • Gas engine's automatic transmission lacks refinement
  • slightly more expensive than rivals
  • lacks some more contemporary features.

Full Edmunds Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Diesel

The redesigned 2015 Volkswagen Golf delivers competitive performance, comfort and refinement. For a small hatchback, it's a worthy consideration.

Vehicle overview

The Volkswagen Golf wasn't the first hatchback invented, but in its 40-year history it has come to define the segment. Like other long-serving German cars, the Golf has evolved over time. Parking all seven generations side by side makes this progression and the traditional Golf formula -- versatility with a dash of performance -- easy to discern. The evolution of the all-new 2015 Volkswagen Golf is so subtle that the casual observer will likely miss the differences.

Reshaped headlights and taillights, and side body panels with slightly sharper creases are the only giveaways that this is a new-generation Golf. The interior is also very similar, with only minor changes and improvements to note.

But underneath that refreshed sheet metal is an all-new body structure and a more powerful, efficient gasoline engine. The underperforming 2.5-liter five-cylinder is gone, a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in its place delivering strong acceleration and respectable fuel economy. If top fuel economy is your priority, diesel power also returns with the Golf TDI, though with only modest gains in power and fuel economy.

Inside, the 2015 Golf looks and feels much like its predecessor, but there's actually more space for passengers and cargo. Materials quality is marginally better, along with a slightly updated infotainment interface, but the Golf oddly lacks some desirable features found in other small cars, such as in-depth smartphone app integration, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Given past success, we can't blame Volkswagen for sticking to the formula, but it does put the Golf at a disadvantage to its competitors.

The Mazda 3 hatchback, for example, lacks the maximum, boxy space of the Golf, but counters with a fun-to-drive character, fuel-efficient engine and an impressive list of technology and safety features unavailable on the Golf. The Ford Focus is another top hatchback with impressive versatility and technology. And in this segment, the Golf (particularly the TDI) can be one of the more expensive models. Contrast this with the turbocharged 2015 Kia Forte SX hatchback, a great car loaded with features that costs much less, and the Golf has its work cut out for it.

Yet the Golf is an undeniable success, and this next evolution of this strong genetic line earns a recommended spot in our 2015 Buying Guide.

2015 Volkswagen Golf models

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf hatchback is available as a two- or four-door hatchback in four major trim levels (the all-electric e-Golf is a similar model, but reviewed separately).

The base Golf Launch Edition will have limited availability and is only offered in the two-door body style with a manual transmission. Standard features include 15-inch steel wheels, heated mirrors, air-conditioning, a front seat center armrest, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split-folding rear seats with a center pass-through, hill-hold assist, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 5.8-inch touchscreen audio interface, satellite radio and iPod connectivity.

The Golf S is available as either a two- or four-door and adds alloy wheels, cruise control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery and VW's Car-Net emergency telematics system. Power reclining front seats are also included if the optional automatic transmission and/or sunroof is added.

The SE trim is only available as a four-door with the automatic transmission, sunroof and partial power seats. Added features include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, heated front seats, a rearview camera and a premium Fender audio system. To that, the range-topping SEL trim adds 18-inch wheels, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, sport front seats with a 10-way power-adjustable driver seat (with power lumbar), a navigation system and interior ambient lighting with LED reading lamps.

Also offered are diesel-powered four-door-only TDI models available with either manual or automatic transmissions. The Golf TDI S includes all of the standard Golf SE features but substitutes 16-inch alloy wheels. Stepping up to the Golf TDI S adds 17-inch wheels, while the TDI SEL is appointed identically to its gasoline SEL counterpart.

Two package options are available. The Lighting package includes bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, cornering lights that shine light through turns and the ambient interior and LED reading lights if not already included. The Driver Assistance package includes front and rear parking sensors and a forward collision warning system.

2015 Highlights

The Volkswagen Golf has been completely redesigned for 2015.

Performance & mpg

Powering the conventional gasoline 2015 VW Golf models is a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. The Launch Edition trim is only available with a five-speed manual transmission, while the Golf S trim can be optioned with a six-speed automatic. The SE and SEL trims are only offered with the automatic.

The EPA estimates for this engine are 29 mpg combined (25 city/36 highway) with the automatic and 30 mpg combined with the manual. On our mixed driving evaluation loop, we managed to achieve an impressive 32 mpg from a loaded Golf SEL with the automatic.

In Edmunds testing, this same Golf SEL accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, which is quick for its class.

The diesel-powered TDI models receive a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automated manual transmission (VW's DSG) is optional. The EPA estimates now stand at 36 mpg combined (31 city/43 highway) for the automatic and 36 mpg combined (30/45) for the manual transmission. On our evaluation loop, we were impressed with our own 49 mpg average, easily outperforming the estimate for the manual transmission.

At the test track, we were also impressed with the Golf TDI's acceleration to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, which proves to be an average pace for the compact segment and impressive for a frugal turbodiesel.


Standard safety features for the 2015 VW Golf include antilock disc brakes, 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. Forward collision warning and front and rear parking sensors are optional.

On Golf S models and above, 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 Car-Net smartphone app lets owners control many of these functions on the go.

In Edmunds braking tests, both the Golf SEL and the TDI stopped from 60 mph in 119 feet, a good result for this class.

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


Power from either of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf's engines should satisfy most drivers, and the new gas engine is smooth and strong, one of the highest-powered in its class. The diesel TDI, meanwhile, delivers a nice slug of power at low and medium speeds, but the power drops off conspicuously as the engine nears redline. The six-speed automatic paired with the gasoline engine is a bit balky, however, prone to searching for the right gear when accelerating from a stop. Once underway, gearchanges are quick and smooth. The six-speed manual is easy to shift thanks to a light-effort clutch pedal and distinct shift gates.

On a typical commute, the 2015 VW Golf delivers a comfortable and compliant ride quality that irons out ruts and potholes with ease. With a relatively small footprint and excellent overall visibility, it's an easy car to drive and park in tight spaces. On a winding mountain pass, the Golf obediently sticks to its intended path, though there is an abundance of body roll and the steering can seem overly light and dull. Competitors like the Ford Focus or Mazda 3 are generally more fun to drive in this regard.


The 2015 Volkswagen Golf'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, 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 Golf'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.

Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2015 Volkswagen Golf in Virginia is:

$62.67 per month*