HEELS ON WHEELS: 2015 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF PREVIEW


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 Volkswagen Golf All Trim Levels


HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel


KATRINA SAYS: The 2015 Volkswagen Golf undoubtedly will satisfy the many cravings of young urban dwellers with its improved powertrains, increased space, excellent fuel efficiency and reasonable starting prices.


INTRO TO THE GOLF VEHICLE
Introduced in 1974, the Volkswagen Golf has forty years experience and rightfully takes credit for defining the compact hatch segment. So it should come to no surprise the seventh-generation 2015 models excel at what excellent German engineering is all about: power, fuel efficiency, and European-influenced styling – with the additional bonus of being bigger.

At a one-day media preview event in northern California, I spent time behind the wheel of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf with both the 170-horsepower 1.8-liter TSI four-cylinder engine and the 150-horspoewer 2-liter TDI Clean Diesel four-cylinder engine with a six-speed automatic transmission. Available in three trims – the base S, SE and SEL – standard features on the base Golf S trim two-door with the TSI engine and automatic transmission include: V-Tex leather upholstery; VW Car-Net services; Bluetooth; XM radio; a digital Media Device Interface with iPod integration; a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel; and fifteen-inch alloy wheels. Total price as described comes to $

For 2015, significant changes include weight, dimensions (lower roof with a wider front track) and more powerful engines. VW Car-Net connected services is also a current push with all models. Competition includes the Mazda3, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza and Honda Civic Si. The 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI, the all-new electric propulsion e-Golf and the reassigned Golf SportWagen (yes, no longer is it part of the Jetta family) will be tested in separate reviews.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: Inside, the Golf’s quirky interior has been replaced with a more mature feel supported by a substantial list of technology features and VW’s leatherette material that lends a glossy look. The design brought a tad more passenger space – 93.5 cubic feet in comparison to the previous 92.9. Trunk space is where the numbers get better, up eight percent for a total of 22.8 cubic feet which beats some mid-size sedans. The are many options that can make the Golf even more appealing are a sunroof, touchscreen Fender premium audio, a rearview camera, safety technology and navigation.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Standard safety equipment includes Intelligent Crash Response System, front and rear disc brakes, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, and anti-slip regulation. The 2015 Volkswagen Golf has not yet been tested by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Staying up with current trends, a suite of safety technology is now available.

Cost Issues: With Volkswagen pricing, it is important to remember the biggest cost variables are not so much the trims and packages you choose but the size of the model (two- or four-door), engine and transmission. So while a Golf Launch Edition can be as inexpensive as $17,995, it’s a two-door with the five-speed manual and without VW’s Car-Net connectivity technology or any leather. A fully loaded Golf SEL four-door with the diesel engine and the six-speed DSG automatic transmission is $29,095.

Activity & Performance Ability: Our course climbed through Tilden Park located in the Berkeley hills and around scenic Marin County byways where the new turbocharged 170-horsepower 1.8-liter TSI engine exhibited a wide degree of confidence and gusto. The diesel does drop down in horsepower and shows some stop-start lag, but handling makes up for any concern as all models are now equipped with XDS Cross Differential System that better monitors understeer for a lighter hatch that knows how to stay put during tight cornering.

The Green Concern: The Golf TSI has a fuel economy of 26-city and 37-highway for a combined 30 miles-per-hour under the manual; and 26-city/36-highway for the automatic. The Golf TDI Clean Diesel has a fuel economy of 31-city/42-highway under the manual (the automatic stats are yet to be released).

FINAL PARTING WORDS
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf undoubtedly will satisfy many cravings, as more powerful engines and improved handling attract the hot-hatch crowd – yet increased space, excellent fuel efficiency and reasonable starting prices bring in the budget-driven set as well.

2014 Katrina Ramser


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