2015 Volkswagen GTI First Impressions

San Franciso, CA – The Volkswagen GTI slots itself in performance automotive history alongside the Porsche 911, the BMW 3 Series, and the Chevrolet Corvette to name a few. I’m not being facetious. The 1976 Volkswagen Golf GTI spawned a segment that quickly gained a cult following.

Every version of the GTI, starting from the MK2 introduced in 1985, set standards that many manufacturers attempted to emulate over the decades.

The latest MK7 2015 Volkswagen GTI is the most powerful production GTI ever, and it drives extremely well. This extremely competent car has now become something for everyone to enjoy, especially when the optional DSG transmission is selected.

What is a Volkswagen GTI?
A game-changer; at least it was nearly 40 years ago. The GTI was nothing more than an in-house covert experiment that turned out to be a brilliant idea.

Each new GTI brings with it the promise of heightened performance and a lifetime membership to the Cool Euro Car Club. The GTI is the hot hatch and as long as VW makes it so, it will remain the compact performance benchmark.

2015 Volkswagen GTI Price and Specs
The 2015 Volkswagen GTI will swoop in to your driveway for a cool $27,995 for a 3-door with a 6-speed manual transmission. A 6-speed dual-clutch DSG is an excellent option for an extra $1,400. The $4,000 Autobahn package includes 18″ wheels, xenon headlights, Fender audio, rear-view camera, keyless entry, and rain-sensing wipers, etc.

The 5-door GTI starts at $32,895 and features the Autobahn group as standard. With the DSG, leather and technology packages, the grand total is $36,085. This is the top GTI. In fact, there will be an available Performance Pack early next year that will throw in 10 extra horsepower, larger brakes, and a limited slip differential.

The Performance Pack piles in on top of the GTI’s 210 horsepower and 258 torques (!) turbocharged 2.0L TSI 4-cylinder engine. Stock brakes maintain the red calipers and an XDS or electronic differential lock that prevents wheel spin when a wheel is unloaded.

New Direct Steering varies ratios and assistance to maximize steering feel. The GTI’s ESC now has a Sport Mode, but still cannot be completely deactivated.

Driving the 2015 Volkswagen GTI
I was given the opportunity to drive previous generation GTIs. The best way I can sum up the MK1, MK2 and MK3? They were mechanically honest. What you felt was what you got. Sometime around the arrival of the MK4, the precious man-and-machine connection was diluted. Volkswagen’s been hard at work bringing it back with the help of today’s technologies.

The 2015 Volkswagen GTI’s steering is the first element I noticed. The weight felt true — the effort required to turn the wheel somewhat reminded me of the power-less steering of the MK1…

Once underway, the GTI immediately shows how strong it’s become. Off the line, the 2.0L TSI engine pushes and pulls relentlessly, which should be good, but if you’re looking for an event behind the wheel of the GTI, you’ll be disappointed. You see, max torque romps in at 1,600 rpm and holds on until 4,200 rpm at which point max hp blows in at 4,300 and stays on until 6,200 rpm. There is literally no flat spot in the GTI’s power delivery. Acceleration is so linear that it almost feels boring…

But it isn’t. The 2015 GTI boogies impressively when pushed hard. The newfound torque allows the lazy driver to forgo a downshift even in 6th. For those in tune with heel-toe-ing and rev-matching, the 6-speed GTI is a blast. The gates are tight and the shifter glides smartly to and fro. The pedals are perfectly positioned for maximum feet play.

The GTI made short work of the trickiest and sharpest corners. It features the same track as the MK6, but somehow displayed a level of grip that felt more tenacious. Squat, surefooted and solid, the GTI will only release the surface below its rubbers if the driver does something really stupid.

The non-fully-deactivate-able ESC plays a role in the prevention of disasters, which, in turn, will hamper total balls-out tracking of the GTI. I take issue with that but understand why.

Inside and Out of the 2015 Volkswagen GTI
Like the new MK7 Golf, the 2015 Volkswagen GTI has once more grown up and is now a man-racer’s car as opposed to a boy-racer’s dream. The GTI features distinct front and rear fasciae that are beefier than the Golf’s. Wheel arches are slightly flared and specific GTI badges find their way on the rear part of the front fenders.

Red painted callipers make a comeback, as do unique wheel designs and blacked-out exterior trim. The 2015 Volkswagen GTI looks far more serious than playful and I like it like that.

I also like the car’s cabin. It has also matured. The gauges are loud and clear, the centre stack is well arranged, ergonomic, and pleasant. Fit and finish are impressive.

Specific to the GTI are the superb seats, which should only be covered with the plaid cloth as opposed to leather, and red contrast stitching. The steering wheel is meaty with great feel. A proper driving position can be found quickly where all controls fall perfectly in hand. A true driver’s car, this is.

New for the 2015 GTI are the MIB touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and SiriusXM satellite radio: all standard.

Comparing the 2015 Volkswagen GTI
The 2015 Volkswagen GTI lands squarely in one of my personal-favourite segments, the compact performance category ($25k-$30k range), which holds some of my most treasured driving cars, namely the Subaru WRX, Ford Focus ST, Ford Fiesta ST, Honda Civic Si, Kia Forte Koup, and many more are likely to be added in the future.

Of the lot, as I’ve said, the GTI is the most “mature” and sophisticated and for these reasons will likely remain a popular choice.

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