2015 Volkswagen Golf First Impression

San Franciso, CA — The Volkswagen Golf began life a little over 40 years ago as the car that was expected to fill in for the then aging Beetle — and it did, in many markets around the world.

The level of craftsmanship, attention to detail, available powertrains, and trims all point to the up-levelness that is the Golf now. The MK7 is a proper near-luxury compact that drives as well as it looks. Not since the MK2 have I found a Golf more handsome and stately.

What is a Volkswagen Golf?
Volkswagen’s Golf is its least expensive compact hatchback product on our shores. Now in its 7th generation, it continues to be one of the rare world cars that actually crosses the Pond or the Mexican border with little or no changes.

The new 2015 Volkswagen Golf has been on sale elsewhere for over a year and just arrived at your local dealership.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Price and Specs
A basic 3-door Golf Trendline sports an asking price of $18,995. This bodystyle is only offered in this trim, with the 1.8TSI engine and with a limited number of options. The 5-door Trendline requires an extra grand for starters, but can be loaded up to nearly $35,000 in Highline trim with the TDI mill.

Said 1.8L TSI is the newest addition to VW’s line of powertrains and is a turbocharged 1.8L 4-cylinder that produces 170 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. Transmission options include: 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic.

The alternative is the excellent turbo-diesel 2.0L TDI 4-cylinder. This baby makes 150 horsepower (up 10 hp) and 237 lb-ft of torque. Here, boxes are a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic.

Also part of the revised Golf family is the new wagon that will surely tickle the collective fancy of those looking to combine more versatility with style and great powertrains. Here’s a thought: MK7 Golf Wagon, 6-speed manual, TDI, 4MOTION. I’ve seen it twice and it could come. We’ll know more in the coming months.

Driving the 2015 Volkswagen Golf
Expectations were high, but possibly not high enough as the new 2015 Volkswagen Golf is truly a superb driving machine. The day started off in a Highline TDI with DSG. As a true fan of the oil-burner and the dual-clutch box, I could not have been happier with our choice as we careened east out of San Fran towards some regional parks.

On paper, the TDI has one fault: The addition of AdBlue forced Volkswagen’s hand to “revert” to a torsion beam rear axle suspension in order to make room for the reservoir. AdBlue aids in controlling emissions and thankfully, the semi-independent rear suspension on the Golf TDI does not hamper handling. Only on the roughest, tightest corners during the drive did I notice a minute amount of wheel “skipping” in the rear — 99% of all Golf TDI drivers would never experience this.

As such, the new 2015 Volkswagen Golf handles as it should. Surefooted and firmly anchored to the road, the compact hatch covers ground smoothly and with poise. Its chassis is once more able to maintain high-speed stability as well as soak up uneven road surfaces. The Golf’s electric steering is precise, weighted, and well judged. Brake performance was flawless, however, I would have preferred firmer pedal feel.

What differentiates the Golf TSI and TDI (the only visible badges) are its engines.

The case for the TDI has always been obvious: massive torque, surprising performance and mind-numbing fuel mileage. These facts remain. In fact, the TDI feels more eager than ever to rev and really sounds good when pushed. The torque swell is nearly always available and when coupled to the DSG, as in my tester, almost never falls flat out of its powerband.

The arrival of the TSI changes the powertrain focus somewhat. So strong and efficient is this mill that the strive towards TDI is slightly less relevant. Honestly, and I found the same in a recent test drive of a Jetta TSI, the Golf TSI felt nearly as fast as an MK6 GTI. Power is on tap, especially when the autobox shifter is in “S.” The engine’s torque pushes hard, harder than the horsepower pulls.

The important part to remember is that all of this takes place in relative serenity and calm — in a near luxurious way.

Inside and Out of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf
The new 2015 Golf is every bit a Golf, on the outside. From one generation to another, angles sharpened, outer dimensions enlarged, but the car’s character has pretty much stayed intact.

The evolved Golf look is mature and stately when compared to the MK5, for example. The right creases and angles once more give off a luxurious aura that is becoming of the new MK7 Golf.

On the inside, the contrast with the older cars is just as flagrant. The piano-black and brushed-metal surfaces give a bejewelled effect to the car’s cabin. To boot, fit and finish are impressive and the materials used are classy. Most of the soft-touch plastics are in the right place, however, the area where the driver’s right knee leans is hard stuff…

The seats are very supportive and held occupants in place. The rear bench is comfortable and there’s plenty of room overall for two adults or three in a pinch.

The HMI experience is vastly improved over the MK6, on every level. Ergonomics are good and as usual, everything “fits” with the occupants in the Golf.

Comparing the 2015 Volkswagen Golf
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf lines up with a few choice hatchbacks such as the Mazda3 HB, the Hyundai Elantra GT and Ford Focus HB.

Of this lot, the Golf is the most high-end in most aspects and the car is priced accordingly. Depending on whom you ask, all compact hatchbacks are substitutes to the Golf.

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