KBB Logo Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

The all-new 2015 Volkswagen Golf represents a family of vehicles that includes 2-door and 4-door hatchbacks, performance variants like the Golf GTI and Golf R, the upcoming Golf SportWagen, and the all-electric e-Golf. While it has grown larger and offers gasoline, diesel and electric power, the new Golf retains the practical and fun-to-drive attributes that serve its loyal customer base.

You'll Like The 2015 Volkswagen GTI If...

The VW Golf is a bit counterculture. It’s a hatch when most cars are sedans, and its German roots go against the grain, since most cars in this segment are either Asian or domestic. The Golf offers tremendous utility and good fuel economy, a fun-to-drive spirit, and one of the best interiors in its class.

You May Not Like The 2015 Volkswagen GTI If...

The Golf’s 2-box shape is not for everyone. Those looking for traditional styling and a separate trunk might prefer sedans like the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic. Also, if fuel economy is a priority, there are hybrids that offer as much or more fuel economy than the Golf diesel.

What's New

The 2015 VW Golf is all-new, 2.5 inches longer and a half-inch wider. With 5-passenger comfort and the cargo space of a midsize sedan, the new Golf weighs almost 80 pounds less than its predecessor. It features new turbocharged engines, formally adds the GTI to the family and has on deck the Golf R performance version, the e-Golf EV and Golf SportWagen.

Interior Features

The new Golf continues VW’s tradition of having an upscale look to its interior, using high-quality materials, soft-touch surfaces and piano black trim. The cabin has more shoulder room in both rows. Cargo volume is 16.5 cubic feet below the parcel shelf and 22.8 cubic feet to the roof. Loading is easier thanks to lower liftover in the rear hatch. The rear seat has a 60/40 split rear-folding back, expanding the load space to 52.7 cubic feet when lowered. There’s plenty of front-seat storage in the center console and door panels, and a nifty mini glovebox to the left of the steering column.

Exterior Features

Even though all the sheet metal is new, the car is instantly recognizable as a Golf. While the 2-box profile is the same, all the surfaces appear to be highly tailored with crisp character lines that start at the base of the steeper hood and new narrow horizontal grille, which is flanked by sharper headlight clusters. The distinctive C-pillar treatment recalls earlier Golf generations, adding to the familiarity of the overall look. The car is about 1.1 inches lower in overall height, and the wider track gives it a more muscular, purposeful appearance. The Golf R and e-Golf are 4-door only. The Golf R sits lower than its siblings and is also distinguished by four exhaust outlets.

Driving Impressions

The Golf's most popular iterations are the 1.8-liter gasoline TSI, the 2.0-liter gasoline GTI, and the 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel, while the niche Golf R appeals to performance junkies and the all-electric e-Golf is available in select states. The TSI and TDI share the same suspension and driving characteristics – turn-in is crisp and the performance on par, though the diesel has an advantage in torque, making it a feel snappier than the 1.8. Still, the gasoline engine model has a smooth linear feel, and with a traditional 6-speed automatic transmission, the Golf has solid road manners and a comfortable ride. If you seek more thrills, the GTI, which can be had with either a 6-speed manual gearbox or DSG automatic, has more horsepower and a willing spirit that invites hard driving. The 292-horsepower Golf R is the best performing model to date. Standard 4motion all-wheel drive transmits that power to the asphalt for 0-60 mph bursts under five seconds while also enabling the Golf R to stick to the road in hard cornering.

Pricing Notes

VW offers a Golf Launch Edition, a 2-door hatch priced at $18,815 including destination charges, which is competitive against Kia Forte, Ford Focus, Mazda Mazda3 and Subaru Impreza. The S model is $19,815 for a 2-door and $21,815 for the 4-door. SE models start at $25,315 and the top-line SEL starts at $28,815. Diesel models add about $1,000. The sporty GTI starts at $25,215 and tops out at $31,515, which includes the DSG automatic transmission, navigation and automatic air conditioning. The 4-door Golf R starts at $37,415. Models equipped with variable rate shocks, Navigation and 19-inch wheels have an MSRP of $39,910. The e-Golf begins just over $36,000 before incentives and is available in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. Being all-new, resale prices for the 2015 Volkswagen Golf have yet to be forecast, but historically, Golfs tend to play on the weaker side of the residuals field.

Notable Equipment

Among the standard features are power windows and door locks, air conditioning, a touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius XM satellite radio, and a media-device interface with iPod integration. S models feature aluminum-alloy wheels, V-Tex leatherette seating, steering wheel controls, and cruise control. Four-door models also have partial-power front seats. Golf SE models add a rearview camera and Fender Premium Audio System. SEL model features 18-inch alloy wheels, navigation and sport comfort seats with 12-way power adjustment. In addition to blistering performance, the Golf R offers leather seats, automatic climate control, and bi-xenon headlights. All new Golfs include one year/10,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance.

Notable Options

A 6-speed automatic transmission is available on TSI models, as is the exclusive Fender audio system. A driver assistance package – available throughout the Golf line – features forward-collision warning, and front and rear park-distance control. The 6-speed DSG automatic is optional on the GTI and the diesel TDI. On the GTI, options include an $800 adaptive-damping system and a $1,495 performance package, which includes larger brakes. Golf R models can be further upgraded with VW's DCC adaptive damping system that can tailor the car for "comfort," "normal" or "race" modes.

Favorite Features

CENTER CONSOLE TOUCH SCREEN

Standard on all Golfs is a new 5.8-inch center console touch screen. The device features a capacitive touch sensor similar to smartphone technology, which instead of requiring pressure touch to activate, allows gesture control by swiping and pinch zooming.

XDS CROSS DIFFERENTIAL SYSTEM

Previously offered only on the GTI, all Golfs benefit from this electronic substitute for mechanical limited-slip differentials. If the suspension becomes unloaded in a turn, braking is applied to the inside wheel to prevent understeer, which improves handling.

Under the Hood

The Golf family of engines includes an all-new turbocharged gasoline 4-cylinder in 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter displacements. The 1.8-liter engine is available with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, while the GTI's 2.0-liter comes with a 6-speed manual transmission or, optionally, the 6-speed DSG automatic. The 292-horsepower 2.0-liter Golf R has all-wheel drive and is launching with the DSG. A manual transmission will arrive a few months after launch, debuting in 2016 models. Also new is the 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel on the Golf TDI. Like the Golf GTI, the diesel-powered Golf is paired with a 6-speed manual or the optional DSG automatic transmission. All engines feature cast-iron blocks with five main bearings and aluminum heads. Unleaded regular is recommended on the 1.8-liter TSI, while the 2.0-liter GTI and R require premium fuel. The e-Golf uses an electric motor and has an estimated range of 83 miles. It can recharged in about four hours on a 240-volt outlet and is compatible with DC fast-charging stations.

1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4

170 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm

200 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/37 mpg (manual), 26/36 mpg (automatic)

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (GTI)

210 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm

220 horsepower @ 4,700 (optional performance pack)

258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (manual), 25/33 mpg (automatic)

2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4 (TDI)

150 horsepower @ 3,500 rpm

236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/45 mpg (manual), 31/43 mpg (automatic)

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Golf R)

292 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm

280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg (manual), 23/30 mpg (automatic)

AC synchronous electric motor (e-Golf)

115 horsepower @ 3,000 rpm

199 lb-ft of torque @ 0-3,000 rpm

EPA-estimated range per full charge: 83 miles

EPA city/highway fuel economy equivalent: 126/105 mpge

Editors' Notes

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that this vehicle's diesel engine is involved in a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act issued by the EPA to Volkswagen for producing and selling 4-cylinder diesel cars that include a software device that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) determined that these diesel cars emit up to 40 times more pollution than emission standards allow. Recalls, investigations and litigation are currently ongoing.

The launch of the seventh generation of the Volkswagen Golf represents a major turning point in the car’s history: No longer is it simply a model – the Golf – but rather a family of vehicles that includes 2-door and 4-door hatchbacks, performance variants like the Golf GTI and Golf R, the Golf SportWagen, and an EV in the form of the e-Golf. Not only does the Golf family offer a little bit of something for everyone, but in its most basic hatchback form, it has grown larger, offers a new family of gasoline, diesel and electric powerplants, while still retaining the practical and fun-to-drive attributes that have served a loyal customer base well.

Road Test Video Reviews

2015 Volkswagen GTI Owner Reviews

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35 Reviews
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Overall, the gti is a wonderful car that pleases almost all that own one.

2015 Volkswagen GTI

I absolutely love my 2015 Volkswagen gti! Quick, light, and compact, the car corners and drives extremely well! I currently own the 5 door hatch, and let me tell you; it is incredibly spacious! Perfect for the outdoors, I take this car up to ski every winter. You can rely on this car heavily without any worries. I have had no issues with my car so far, and I have at about 43, 000 miles on it. I get tons of compliments on the car and it is such a joy to drive. The gti is also fairly fuel-efficient averaging about 23 mpg city and 30 highway!

- Austin F

Through the eyes of a Volkswagen woman.

2015 Volkswagen GTI

Volkswagen has a way of defining themselves when it comes to the competition. There are so many extras such as sunglass holders, heated seats, side lights that come on when you turn, secret compartments built under the seats, the technology is amazing not to mention the stereos that come stock are phenomenal. I have owned 5 VW gti's and every single one has been a driving experience unsurpassed by others. And they corner like they're on rails!

- Amanda D

Probably the best car in its price range.

2015 Volkswagen GTI

It is extremely fast and picks up speed really well, not many issues as long as you change the oil on a timely matter. I have been having a little issue with the fuel door not opening. The bucket seats hug your body and makes long drives feel like they are shorter. Overall I love the car, it is small enough to zip through traffic yet still pretty spacious inside.

- Lisa H

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