The new-generation Golf GTI has grown in size yet dropped in weight and
features a new 2.0-liter turbo with 210 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque,
figures that are 10 hp and 51 lb-ft higher than in the previous-generation GTI
The optional Performance Package, which goes on sale later in the model year, ups the ante with 220 horsepower, as well as a torque-sensing electronically-controlled limited-slip differential and larger brakes.
All 2015 Golf GTI models have a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic that has a launch control feature.
The all-new Golf GTI is available in three trim levels: S, SL and Autobahn. The Golf GTI S, which starts at $24,395 (plus $820 destination charge) for the two-door model with manual transmission, adds the following over the previous entry-level GTI: standard 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment center, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, VW Car-Net connected services, ambient and footwell lighting with LED reading lights, LED foglights, and a new Driving Mode Selection feature.
For the first time, American Volkswagen enthusiasts will be able to order the DCC adaptive damping system as an $800 option on Performance Package-equipped SE and Autobahn models.
The Golf GTI's closest competitors are the Ford Focus ST, Honda Civic Si and the Subaru WRX.
Golf GTI's Sporty Exterior
The 2015 VW Golf GTI is wrapped in sheetmetal that is totally modern yet equally unmistakable as a Volkswagen Golf GTI. The shape and design elements remain as defined as ever, with a distinctive C-pillar and roofline framing classic Golf GTI side windows, but the striking new front end and steeply sloped hood leave no doubt this is an all-new model.
The new look is further accentuated by the sharper headlight clusters and the bright-red horizontal graphic that runs through the optional Bi-Xenon headlights, as well as by the narrower grille, which now leads to a strong character line that travels along the side and all the way back to the taillight clusters, only breaking for the wheelarches. Just above, another body line can be traced from the rear side window all the way back up to the headlights and front horizontal graphic. These subtle body lines help create a poised yet elegant appearance.
In addition to the red-colored horizontal highlight on the grille, the 2015 VW Golf GTI has several other visual differences from its conventional Golf brethren. The lower front fascia incorporates standard LED foglights housed within a series of horizontal strakes on either side of a unique mesh pattern grille. Red-painted brake calipers peek behind bespoke GTI wheels and subtle side skirts help to give the GTI a more planted appearance. Around back, bright exhaust tips sit on either side of a unique rear diffuser, and a roof spoiler further differentiate the car.
Dimensionally, the 2015 VW Golf GTI has grown in all directions but up. Overall length has increased by 2.1 inches, while width has gained 0.5 inches. Overall height has decreased, however, by 1.1 inches, making the car look more ready to pounce than ever. Thanks to the MQB architecture, which dictates a fixed relationship between the front-wheel centerline and the pedalbox, the front wheels now sit 1.7 inches further forward, giving a premium "cab backward" aesthetic.
Along with the new design graphics and shape, these updated proportions help the Golf GTI achieve a lower visual center of gravity and a more dynamic stance, helped by a sport suspension that lowers the car by 0.4 inches compared with a regular Golf. The car is more aerodynamic than the previous GTI, with a Coefficient of drag of 0.31. The all-new Golf GTI is equipped with large 18-inch wheels as standard equipment, wrapped in standard all-season or optional summer 225/40 tires. A panoramic power tilt and slide sunroof is standard equipment on the SE and Autobahn models.
A stand-alone Lighting Package is available for $995 for all three 2015 VW Golf GTI trim levels: it consists of Bi-Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, as well as Volkswagen's Adaptive Front-lighting System. This system swivels the main headlight beams by up to 15 percent as the steering wheel is turned to help illuminate bends in the road more effectively at speeds of more than 6 mph. Automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers are now standard on SE models and above, along with automatic headlights.