Birth of an automotive icon is measured in generations driven by the test of time.
Debut of the front-wheel front-engine Volkswagen Golf hatchback in 1974 was the target replacement for the German auto giant’s aging air-cooled rear engine Volkswagen Beetle.
Though intended to be VW’s “people’s car”, the compact Golf took on a new persona with the addition of a sport model called GTI.
Performance enthusiasts dubbing the spirited Golf GTI a “hot hatch” giving rise to a new genre in the automotive arena.
After 40 years, Volkswagen Golf remains the benchmark in the hot hatch segment and the automaker’s best selling model with more than 30 million units built worldwide.
Today, the 2015 VW Golf enters its seventh-generation of production with a larger footprint for better handling and more interior space.
For 2015, the 2.5L five-cylinder engine in the base Golf TSI is replaced by a fuel-efficient turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 170 horsepower that yields 23 miles per gallon/city and 30 mpg/highway with 6-speed automatic transmission.
A six-speed manual gearbox raises Golf’s fuel economy to 26/37 respectively.
Golf’s mileage leader comes with the 2.0L turbodiesel-powered TDI that provides 150 hp for 31 mpg in town and 42 mpg on the open road.
The 2015 Golf GTI becomes the benefactor of a revised 2.0L turbocharged engine for 210 hp. to garner 21/31 mpg with an automatic and 25/34 mpg with manual transmission.
“Golf’s engine variety and fuel economy draws a wide range of buyer interest,” says Ryan Roddy, sales consultant for Team Volkswagen in Merrillville. “Its hatchback styling is distinctive and functional. Our most loyal Golf customers are driving enthusiasts that choose the iconic GTI.”
According to Roddy, Golf ownership across the model line lasts beyond typical years due to its consistent styling and exceptional build quality. “Golf owners keep their cars. It’s unusual to have a pre-owned Golf on our lot."
Inside, Golf sports a passenger compartment that transports five occupants.
Back seat space comfortably accommodates a pair of adults or a trio of child seats with 16.5 cubic-feet of cargo space remaining behind the second row.
When unoccupied, Golf’s 60/40 split-rear seat folds into the cabin to expand its carrying capacity to an abundant 52.7 cu-ft.
Interior features include Bluetooth connectivity, satellite radio and a 5.8-inch touch screen. Albeit functional, the screen is slightly undersized for at-a-glance use.
Golf's gauges and switch gear are otherwise user-friendly for easy operation.
GTI features a racy flat bottom steering wheel with attached paddle shifters for driver-directed gear operation.
Sport seats, aluminum-style pedals and GTI specific instruments also are included.
On road, Golf’s steering is crisp at any speed.
Ride quality is sporty without punishment courtesy of an absorbent suspension that soaks up bumps and road imperfections.
Brakes are well matched to Golf’s size and rein effectively across the Golf and GTI power spectrum.
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf Launch Edition is priced from $18,815 with freight, followed by the volume-leading Golf TSI for $19,815 and diesel-driven Golf TDI at $22,815.
Volkswagen’s performance-based 2015 Golf GTI ups the anti to $25,215.