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#1

in Affordable Small Cars

MSRP: $18,995 - $29,095
Invoice: $18,325 - $27,931
MPG: N/A
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Volkswagen Golf Performance

Most test drivers write that the redesigned 2015 Volkswagen Golf offers poised handling and a comfortable, controlled ride. While a few say that the base Golf could use more power in some situations, most report that the Golf is quick from a stop and feels powerful at higher speeds. The turbodiesel Golf TDI earns praise for its ample low-end power, as well as its exceptional fuel economy.

  • "The 2015 Golf TDI is better than ever, across the line, in even more refined fashion. Compared to the Mk.VI Golf, the new one pretty much seems a class above. It's smoother, quieter and more solid, but the refinement doesn't come at the expense of response or the general, wholesome goodness that has characterized the Golf for decades--even in the TDI diesel." -- AutoWeek 
  • "The TSI and TDI share the same suspension and driving characteristics - turn-in is crisp and the performance on par, though the diesel has an advantage in torque, making it a feel a little snappier off the line than the 1.8. Still, the gasoline engine model has a smooth linear feel, and with a traditional 6-speed automatic transmission, the Golf has solid road manners and a comfortable ride." -- Kelley Blue Book 
  • "All in all, driving the Golf is patently more fun than driving the majority of its competition. It's not a terribly fast car, but its nimbleness and balance around turns is sure to brighten up any commute or coffee run." -- Autoblog 

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Golf comes with a turbocharged, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is available. Golf TDI models come with a turbodiesel 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the Golf TDI, while a six-speed automated manual is available. The EPA reports that the base Golf gets 25/37 mpg city/highway, which is typical for a compact car. The 2015 Golf TDI gets up to 31/45 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for the class.

Many reviewers report that the base Golf feels responsive in stop-and-go traffic and offers plenty of power at higher speeds. However, a few say that the gas-powered Golf suffers from some turbo lag off the line, and that it could use more passing power at higher speeds. The Golf TDI pleases the automotive press with its ample low-end power, and some write that its engine operates in an exceptionally smooth and quiet manner. Test drivers agree that the base Golf’s available six-speed automatic transmission shifts quickly, though they mention that the standard five-speed manual feels clunky and can be difficult to shift.

  • "We were hoping for more punch from the standard 1.8-liter TSI engine; in the manual-transmission version, there's almost no roll-on power in fourth or fifth gear at speed. It's peppy enough around town, though, and for those who want better real-world performance, the TDI serves up a big wave of torque on demand along with its superior efficiency." -- AutoTrader 
  • "VW's new 2.0 works more smoothly and quietly than any inline diesel currently offered in North America -- better than BMW's, and on par with Mercedes' V6." -- AutoWeek 
  • "Power from either of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf's engines should satisfy most drivers, and the new gas engine is smooth and strong, one of the highest-powered in its class. The diesel TDI, meanwhile, delivers a nice slug of power at low speeds." -- Edmunds  
  • "It's a peppy little engine, though you'll feel a bit of turbo lag at very low rpm. It's really only apparent when you're trying to leave a stop aggressively, or if you're lugging the engine in a high gear. With a few more revs on the clock, the motor pulls smoothly and strongly and makes plenty of power to scoot the car around with authority." -- Motor Trend   
  • "The ancient manual gearbox could use some improvement, and not just by adding a sixth gear. The shifter contains noticeable physical resistance, making the throws a bit more laborious than expected, and clutch pedal travel length is too long. The six-speed automatic - an $1,100 option on S trim and standard on SE and SEL models - is solid, offering crisp shifts with minimal drama." -- Autoblog  

Handling and Braking

The redesigned Golf pleases critics with its nimble, controlled handling, as many note that it feels stable on the highway and planted through turns. Most agree that the brakes are strong, and that the Golf is easy to maneuver. The 2015 Golf also earns praise from some reviewers for its responsive steering and comfortable ride. However, a few auto writers report that the Golf rides firmly, and that its steering could offer more road feel. 

  • "On the road, the Golf feels nimble yet solid, displaying that distinctive Germanic composure at higher speeds. The steering is rather numb in corners, but you can hustle this little hatch along if you feel like it. It has moves." -- AutoTrader 
  • "On a typical commute, the 2015 VW Golf delivers a comfortable and compliant ride quality that irons out ruts and potholes with ease. With a relatively small footprint and excellent overall visibility, it's an easy car to drive and park in tight spaces." -- Edmunds 
  • "When the time comes to take a corner, you, as a driver, will be the most impressed. For a non-sport model, the 2015 Golf takes turns surprisingly well. The car feels confident and solid, exhibiting surprisingly little body roll. It isn't fazed by bumpy roads, even during cornering. The trade-off is a ride that's rather firm for the class, but more than tolerable." -- Motor Trend 
  • "The brakes have a nice sharp bite to them and the electronically assisted steering is blissfully responsive, eschewing the numbness found on less enthusiast-minded cars in this class." -- Autoblog 
Review Last Updated: 11/10/14

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