- Completely redesigned for 2015
- Hot hatchback with a 210-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder engine
- IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award recipient
The completely redesigned 2015 Volkswagen GTI looks to continue its tradition of front-wheel drive performance and driving pleasure.
The latest in a long line of hot hatches, the 2015 GTI marks the debut of the brand-new Mark Seven (MkVII) GTI, the seventh iteration since the GTI’s debut many years ago. It was redesigned in tandem with the tamer model on which it is based, the Golf. Changes include a new engine, several other welcome mechanical tweaks, and updated styling inside and out.
Taking in the 2015 GTI, it’s a little bit hard to pick out the exact differences between it and the previous generation car. The shape and proportions are essentially unchanged, but the new car is both slightly longer and wider than its predecessor. At launch, only four-door models of the GTI will be offered but Volkswagen has promised that the two-door will make a return later in the model year. Most of the cosmetic changes are found up front, where a thinner grille, more angular headlights, and standard LED fog lights housed in stylish recesses in the front fascia sharpen the GTI’s styling. The standard 18-inch alloy wheels have also been restyled.
Under the hood, the new engine keeps the same displacement as the old engine but adds both horsepower and torque compared to last year. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder makes 210-hp and 258 pounds-feet of torque, good for an increase in 10-hp and 51 pounds-feet of torque. Couple the gains in power with an 82 pound weight loss thanks to weight loss in the engine and the chassis, and the new is both more efficient and quicker, a potent combination. Fuel economy figures increase to 25/34 mpg city/highway and are identical whether you opt for the six-speed manual or the six-speed automatic gearbox.
The GTI’s slightly larger dimensions translate to slight increases in cabin space all around which will be especially welcome for rear seat passengers. It’s still not the ideal car to fill for a long road trip, but for shorter jaunts it performs well enough. For 2015, the center console has been slightly turned so it now faces the driver for easier access to climate controls and the new, standard 5.8-inch touchscreen that controls the audio and infotainment systems. Volkswagen has been quietly tamping down their interior quality for the last few years in an effort to make their cars more affordable, but thankfully that hasn’t happened to the GTI. There is still great fit and finish and high-quality materials, and while it’s not quite a luxury grade interior it remains a well-appointed, comfortable cabin. And thankfully, the plaid seats are still available.
Adding to the good news, the 2015 GTI received a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS for its performance in crash testing. The usual standard safety features are all there including six airbags, electronic stability control, and antilock brakes. Newly standard for 2015 is an automatic post-collision braking system, which will automatically apply the brakes if the airbags deploy to reduce the chance of a secondary collision.