2015 Volkswagen Golf Test Drive

?2015 Volkswagen Golf: Now an even better hatchback?

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It?s been 40 years since the now iconic Volkswagen Golf hatchback debuted on our shores. The 2015 Volkswagen Golf represents the seventh generation of the popular hatchback. This latest iteration Golf will be available with two or four doors and will be powered by a choice of two powertrains: the EA888 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TSI? engine that mates to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission; and the new EA288 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TDI? Clean Diesel, coupled to either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed DSG? dual-clutch automatic transmission. It?s the first time the entire Golf lineup will feature powerful and efficient turbocharged engines. The Golf TSI increases fuel economy up to 6 mpg (or 20 percent) on manufacturer estimated highway fuel economy when compared to the 2.5-liter model that it replaces.

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The new VW Golf is not only better, but it is bigger, lighter, more fuel efficient, and serves up a heightened level of versatility and functionality. Dimensionally, the Golf has grown every which way but directions but up. Overall length has stretched 2.1 inches, while width has picked up 0.5 inches. Overall height however is 1.1 inches less. This seventh-generation Golf has dropped in weight by up to 79 pounds (depending on model), despite an impressive list of new and upscale features. The new Golf introduces Volkswagen?s versatile MQB (modular transverse matrix) vehicle platform to the U.S. marketplace, which takes a significant move forward in standardizing, simplifying, and improving the design and creation of products across the entire Volkswagen Group portfolio. MQB architecture allows for a more cab-backward design, giving the new Golf a more upscale appearance without sacrificing classic recognizable design cues from earlier Mk 1 and Mk 4 Golf models.

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Regardless of the trim level selected, the new Golf offers more standard features than its predecessor. A 650-unit, limited-availability entry Golf Launch Edition two-door with the manual transmission starts at $17,995. Add $820 for destination and handling. Extra content over the outgoing Golf 2.5L includes: a turbocharged and direct-injection four cylinder as the base engine, along with a standard 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth? connectivity, a Media Device Interface with iPod? integration, and SiriusXM? Satellite Radio. Automatic Post-Collision Braking System is standard on all Golf models, while available new comfort and convenience features include a Fender? Premium Audio System and Climatronic? automatic air conditioning. The price of the base TDI model has been reduced by more than $3,000 compared with the previous-generation Golf TDI model.

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Volkswagen will also offer a Golf Sport model at launch. About 650 of these SE four-door models will be built, equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission and the Lighting Package that includes standard Bi-Xenon headlights. Offered in either Pure White or Platinum Gray, the Sport model is visually enhanced with a bold body-kit that includes a front lip spoiler, side skirts, a rear valence, a larger rear spoiler, and chrome exhaust tips. Pricing for the Sport SE model begins at $26,930. Trim levels will consist of: the base S model; SE; SEL; and special Autobahn model. The Golf 1.8-liter TSI powered models will predictably sell in higher numbers than any other model.

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Visually, the 2015 VW Golf?s exterior wraps itself in sheet metal that is totally modern while remaining unmistakable as a Volkswagen Golf. The shape and design elements remain defined, with a distinctive C-pillar and roofline that frames the classic Golf side windows, while the striking new front end and steeply sloped hood display the fact that this is an all-new model. The new look is further accentuated by sharper headlight clusters and horizontal graphic that runs through them, as well as by the narrower grille, that adds a strong character line that travels along the side, continuing back to the taillight clusters, with a break only for the wheel-well arches. Just above, another body line can be traced from the rear side window back up to the headlights and front horizontal graphic. The overall impression is a collection of lines and subtle form that blend harmoniously to create a poised yet elegant persona.

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The Interior of this latest iteration Golf emphasizes comfort accompanied by an impressive and substantial list of features. Despite the Golf?s lower overall height, the interior space has been increased all around, with 93.5 cubic feet of interior room compared with 92.9 for its predecessor. In addition to the added space, many of the driver controls and switchgear had been relocated in the interest of improved ergonomics and user friendliness. Essentially the new VW Golf lineup may be classified as ?Driver-centric?.

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A new touchscreen infotainment system is standard for all Golf models, with a 5.8-inch display that has a unique proximity sensor that automatically senses when a hand is close by, and switches to a more ?finger-friendly? display.

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During the national press launch of the 2015 VW Golf, I was able to pilot experience?several versions of this latest VW hatchback, including: a Golf S TSI 1.8-liter?4-door automatic, finished outside in Blue Silk metallic with a Black V-Tex Leatherette?interior. The base price was set at $ 20,695 with a final stocker of $21,515. Next up was?a Golf GTI in SE trim with the 2.0 liter TSI ? also an automatic priced at $31,410. It was?sprayed Tornado Red with a Black leather interior. I also tested the Golf TDI 2.0-liter?diesel automatic with its exterior finished in Tungsten Silver metallic and priced at?$ 30,910. There was also a Euro-spec, full battery electric e-Golf to drive which is coming in the future, along with a Golf R and a Golf Sport Wagon.

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SUMMARY: Driving any of the latest VW Golf models served up a pleasant and enjoyable experience in virtually every aspect. The added performance potential and fun factor of the Golf GTI was certainly appreciated, and I happen to be a fan of diesel power ? particularly those of VW origin, but the 2015 Volkswagen Golf S TSI automatic was the cream of the crop in my opinion. It delivered more than ample power on demand, provided an athletic agility, along with a comfortable and compliant ride quality.

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It provided all of the creature comforts and conveniences available in the other Golf models, but at a lower price point. Its modernized styling cues are easy on the eyes, while remaining instantly recognizable as a VW Golf. Safety and infotainment features and technology are up to date and user friendly.

All in all, the newest members of the Volkswagen Golf family offer fun to drive, yet practical transportation that may be easily tailored to suit individual tastes and needs.

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?[wptabtitle] SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Volkswagen Golf S TSI [/wptabtitle]
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Base Price: $20,695.
Price as Tested: $21,515.
Engine Type and Size: 1.8-liter, DOHC, 16-valve, turbocharged and intercooled inline 4-cylinder with Direct Injection.
Horsepower (bhp): 170 @ 4,500 rpm
Torque (ft./ lbs.): 200 @1,600 rpm
Transmission: Electronically controlled six speed automatic.
Drive Train: Transversely mounted front engine / Front-wheel drive.
Suspension: Front – Strut-type with lower control arms, coil springs, telescopic dampers, 22-mm-diameter anti-roll bar.
Rear – Multilink with coil springs, telescopic dampers and 19-mm anti-roll bar.

Brakes: Power-assisted, dual circuit four-wheel discs (vented front) with standard four-wheel, three channel ABS and electronic brake pressure distribution.
Tires: Continental ContoiProContact 195/65 R15 all-season mounted on 10-spoke (alternating large/small) alloy wheels.
Wheelbase: 103.8 inches
Length Overall: 167.5 inches
Width: 70.8 inches
Height: 57.2 inches
Curb Weight: 3,023 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 13.2 gallons
EPA Mileage Estimates: 26 mpg city / 36 mpg highway
Drag Coefficient: 0.29
0 – 60 mph: Not tested

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Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well. 

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