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Car Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI S Review By John Heilig

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI

By John Heilig

Reviewed Model: 2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI S

Engine: 1.8-liter DOHC turbocharged I-4
Horsepower/Torque: 170 hp @ 4,000 rpm/200 lb.-ft. @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 103.8 in.
Length x Width x Height: 167.5 x 70.8 x 57.2 in.
Tires: P195/65 R15 Cargo: 22.8/52.7 cu. ft. (rear seats up/down)
Economy: 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway/28.3 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 13.2 gal.
Curb Weight: 3,023 lbs.
Sticker: $21,515 (includes $820 delivery)

The Bottom Line: The Volkswagen Golf TSI is unbelievably smooth and quiet. It has a great ride, very good power and handling. For a compact car, it’s surprisingly roomy.

Volkswagen rarely makes rash decisions. For example, the company stood with the Beetle for years, and is still doing well with more modern interpretations of the classic bug.

It has been pretty much the same with the Golf. Introduced as the Rabbit way back in the 1970s, it has gone through seven generations (and name changes from Rabbit to Golf to Rabbit to Golf) over the course of the years. But what has remained, as with the Beetle, is a solid compact hatchback that is unpretentious and simply does its job.

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The TSI is the gasoline-powered Golf. The TDI uses diesel fuel. With all the variations on the Golf, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what you have without a scorecard. But if you’re looking for a compact car that will deliver a lot for the money, you can’t go too far wrong with the TSI.

Start the engine and it isn’t too noisy. On the road, it’s almost silent. Sure, there’s a little complaining when you kick the loud pedal, but it isn’t bad. And there’s plenty of power at 170 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque. The TSI only weighs a tick over 3,000 pounds, so it can zip along quite well, thank you. The 1.8-liter engine replaces the 2.5-liter 5 with equal power. The turbo 4 has food power, but it isn’t overpowering. You have enough to stay out of trouble and enough to get into trouble if you want.

We took the Golf on our longer hill climb with the more gradual turns and it performed admirably. I think back to my old Super Beetle (the one that still didn’t have a dash top), and the handling wasn’t that great with that car. The original Rabbit wasn’t a world beater, either, but VW has modernized the suspension over the years and it has served the car well.

Styling hasn’t changed much since the original Rabbit, although through seven generations, there are incremental changes. For example, this iteration is 2.1 inches longer, 0.5 inches wider and sits 1.1 inches lower than its predecessor, so it has a sportier stance. Still, you know what you see when you see a Golf.

I was impressed with the bottom line. At $21,515 it has no options. Still, everything necessary is there. You just don’t get goodies like blind spot monitoring or a rear view camera. However, the absence of these makes the driver pay more attention.

For entertainment, the audio system contains all the goodies. The audio screen has icons for all the SiriusXM stations. The HVAC worked well in pre-winter cold and a spell of unseasonable warmth. The screen doesn’t have navigation, but it does include many choices to monitor the vehicle.

One feature of the Golf that I’d like to see in other smaller cars is a flat-bottomed steering wheel. Those of us who are more corpulent like not having a wheel pushing us in the gut.

The front seats are comfortable with good side support. Large door pockets help contain all the paraphernalia you may want to carry. Rear seat legroom is tight and there’s a large center hump for potential center passengers to deal with. While the new Golf has a larger cabin volume, they obviously didn’t waste it on the rear seating area. The rear seat backs fold flat easily to more than double cargo capacity, with a flat floor.

The original generation of the Golf was introduced the same week as the Triumph TR7, so you know it has been around a while. And while the TR7 is no longer with us (nor is British Leyland Motors for that matter), the Golf is, and it keeps getting better with each new generation.

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