Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.0L I4
Power:
227 HP / 258 LB-FT
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
0-60 Time:
6.3 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
155 MPH
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
2,941 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
16.3 / 44.8 CU FT
MPG:
23 City / 34 HWY (est.)
Base Price:
$24,700 (est.)
As Tested Price:
$28,000 (est.)
The 911 Of Hot Hatches Takes The Compact Game To New Levels



North American car buyers get a bit of a slap in the face when it comes to delivery schedules for new the Volkswagen Golf and pumped-up GTI models. We'll just repeat the old chestnut: It's worth the wait... even though it still stinks. This time around, Western Europe is taking deliveries of the new Golf as we speak, and GTI deliveries start between May and July. North America doesn't get the Mk7 Golf or GTI until about July of 2014.

So we approached our first drive of the new GTI with this chip on our shoulder: "You're making us wait? Well, then at least give us the exact car we'll be able to buy. No compromises, mein freund." And so it was that we extracted nearly all of our drive impressions from behind the wheel of what, for the United States, will technically be a model year 2015 two-door Volkswagen Golf GTI Performance with the standard six-speed manual.

This time around, Volkswagen in Wolfsburg and in Herndon, VA, explain the wait in very practical terms. Whereas before it was just a long wait while Volkswagen slowly realized it needed to properly invest in North America, the wait this time is because VW needs to get its Puebla, Mexico, factory completely on-line to build all of North America's Golfs and GTIs. The deadline for this happening is... July 2014. We're still gonna whine about it though, because that's how we roll.
2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI side view2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI front view2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI rear view

The 93-pound lighter Mk7 GTI will do 0-60 in 6.4 seconds.

For the Mk7 GTI, power from the iron-block EA888 2.0-liter TSI four-cylinder versus the Mk6 GTI still on sale is up 10 percent to 217 horsepower between 4,500 and 6,200 rpm, and peak torque is up 51 pound-feet – almost 25 percent – to 258 lb-ft between 1,500 and 4,400 rpm. The outgoing GTI accelerated to 60 miles per hour in an estimated 6.8 seconds while the now 93-pound-lighter Mk7 GTI riding on its all-new MQB architecture will do the deed in 6.4 seconds.

At least in North America, the GTI thus cracks a special mental barrier regarding curb weight. By losing those 93 pounds of love handle, the Mk7 GTI in two-door trim with a manual transmission gets back down below 3,000 pounds to 2,941, despite being longer and wider than the Mk6. Almost all of the weight loss can be attributed to VW exploring ever thinner gauge high-strength steels for both the sheetmetal and all of the main joinders of body and chassis, the goal being to lose weight while gaining strength and stiffness.

2015 Volkswagen GTI engine

The traditional Jacky plaid sport fabric on the seats has been evolved into a new pattern dubbed Clark.

The traditional Jacky plaid sport fabric on the supportive sport seats has here been evolved into a new pattern dubbed Clark, and the standard 18-inch wheels for the Mk7 are a new design called Brooklyn, instead of the current model's standard Detroit-style alloys. Through the ceaseless curves of the southern French Alps, where we are all World Rally Championship drivers, both the chairs and Bridgestone Potenzas wrapped around the Brooklyns did their jobs without a hitch. They have some important little helpers in the Mk7, and it's these aids that take the new GTI to a place where no other front-wheel-drive hot hatch can tread with such overwhelming confidence.

The base car with standard progressive steering and VW's latest XDS+ electronic limited-slip action is a solid setup. The electronically assisted steering with 2.0-turns from lock to lock is weighted nicely and pleasingly precise. Critically, XDS+ goes one step further from its Mk6 XDS iteration. Instead of augmenting handling by reacting only through the brakes and stability control system, it can be proactive in off-brake moments where added front-end control is deemed desirable. Thus, it will still apply light braking to the inner wheel during dynamic driving as you approach the next curve, yet it will also assist even without any steering angle input when needed on all types of road surfaces – including snow.

2015 Volkswagen GTI interior2015 Volkswagen GTI front seats2015 Volkswagen GTI rear seats2015 Volkswagen GTI rear cargo area

But... but, we had the Mk7 in Performance trim for the meat of this test, an option setup that figures to cost somewhere around $1,200 extra over the projected $24,700 base price tag. The package includes larger-diameter, internally vented brake discs gloved by pretty red calipers stamped with a white "GTI," 10 more horsepower, a maximum-torque phase that stretches out 200 more revs to 4,600 rpm, a higher 155-mph top speed, one-tenth of a second quicker acceleration to 60 mph, and an all-important front Haldex-style electrically controlled mechanical locking sport differential. Yep, you do want this significant extra.

VAQ alone can peel off eight seconds from a perfect GTI lap of the Nürburgring.

This new differential, called VAQ in Deutsch for "Vorderachs-Quersperre," is available for the first time on a roadgoing front-drive compact car, and it showed what it was born to do curve after delicious curve out there on the region's rally special-stage roads. Volkswagen says that this feature alone can peel off eight seconds from a perfect GTI lap of the Nürburgring. For the past couple of years, this technology has been put to the test on the company's Volkswagen Scirocco racecars, so VAQ has been thoroughly beaten to a pulp and vetted.

What happens with this lightweight and simple solution that affords such hugely satisfying results is not revolutionary if you stare at it on paper, but that doesn't mean it isn't new and effective. The VAQ senses not only tangible or potential slippage and understeer in the front wheels through curves, it also monitors g-forces on each wheel to know which corner to send the greater oomph (normally the outer one), while just backing off on the wheel with less load (the inner one). There is still the light braking and ESC action of XDS+ going on as well, but VAQ amounts to a stunning further step.

Autoblog Short Cuts: 2015 Volkswagen GTI

No factory-issue Golf has ever come this far in extending our abilities. Not even an R32 or present Golf R.

We felt the potential of the system most while hitting the accelerator hard coming out of the myriad French curves we encountered. The outer wheel was actually grabbing and tugging at the tarmac, showing us the way, but it was smooth enough and in keeping with the drama of the moment. Combined with the new chassis, which sits sixth-tenths of an inch lower on firmer springs and dampers, the GTI is an empowering revelation. After we became confident in VAQ's abilities, we got the feeling that there was almost no limit to what was possible. There is effectively no understeer push and no torque-steer tugging going on. No factory-issue Golf has ever come this far in extending our abilities during super-hot escapades. Not even an R32 or present Golf R.

On a dry and ideal sports car day like this one, the 227-hp GTI Performance with VAQ and the standard progressive steering and squatting chassis was simply spectacular. We do think the Performance trim should include an angrier optional exhaust, but other than that, we are comprehensively bowled over. Playing with the dynamic chassis control interface's five modes – Comfort, Normal, Sport, Eco, Individual – via the optional onboard touchscreen, we were also able to turn the GTI Performance into a docile and mild-mannered family car for simple straight-line cruising. Left in the eco setting, this latest interpretation of VW's omnipresent 2.0-liter TSI improves its fuel use and lessens its CO2 footprint by 18 percent versus the Mk6 GTI.

2015 Volkswagen GTI rear 3/4 view

One more thing: The optional six-speed DSG dual-clutch automated gearbox remains good work, but on a GTI, we prefer a six-speed manual with the appropriate golf-ball-style knob and a clutch pedal. Fewer people every year are sticking with the stick, however, with roughly half of GTI owners in the US and Germany opting for the paddle-shift setup. In addition, as we noticed recently on a drive of the latest Euro-market Audi S3, heel-and-toeing is not really encouraged by the pedal orientation. Regardless, our staff has owned a few GTIs in its day, and for our tastes, we still prefer a good six-speed manual – even if we have to adapt our heel-toe style to suit.

We can't wait to see how the GTI and its Performance package version stack up against the heady likes of the Ford Focus ST, Mazda Mazdaspeed3 and new Subaru WRX STI. The GTI Performance tester we sat in most of the day puts any Mini John Cooper Works – except maybe the pricey new JCW GP edition – squarely into the weeds.

But, of course, we can't do any comparisons on US soil until July of 2014, and that just plain stinks.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 275 Comments
      nmbr55
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can deal with the fact that it's being assembled in Mexico. The engine and transmission will likely be produced elsewhere, and those are the major bits to be concerned about. However, I don't like that this car will be coming off a brand new, untested production line. Waiting a year for it to come out is already a stretch- waiting two years for them to resolve all of the first-run glitches and bugs will have me looking at something else.
      CarCrazy24
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks like another winner, love it!
      Lichtronamo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ok this is minor but while I like the look of the new Brooklyn wheels, they are going the wrong direction on the passenger side of the car!
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Lichtronamo
        true. still there are other wheels to chose from. just take another design
        Buckus Comments
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Lichtronamo
        Agreed. I hate directional wheel designs like that because they go a different direction on each side of the car.
      Mr. BaderĀ®
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just amazing thanks VW
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      stergis3
      • 1 Year Ago
      Type your comment Why the iron block still when weight reduction is the stated goal? The Japanese build engines almost exclusively with aluminum,no? Diesel engined Mazda 6 and Honda Civics included.
        404 not found
        • 1 Year Ago
        @stergis3
        Durability is my guess.
          • 1 Year Ago
          @404 not found
          [blocked]
        Jim
        • 1 Year Ago
        @stergis3
        Acoustic damping and durability, or so they claim. Not really a huge amount of weight to save on a 4pot engine block by switching to aluminium. It has lost weight compared to the last GTi engine anyway.
        Matthew Davis
        • 1 Year Ago
        @stergis3
        We asked this. The engine guru present claimed 1) aluminum blocks do still cost much more than iron units and 2) alloy blocks transmit much more undesirable noise. Both true in my experience, bjt still you'd think VW with mega billions could find a way.
      nojorge
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is the images of the GTI in this article representative of options we'll actually have in the US? Should we take this article as confirmation that the US will definitely get the Performance Pack? What about the large-screened "Discover Pro" navigation system - it is pictured in the article - are we getting that in the US?
        Matthew Davis
        • 1 Year Ago
        @nojorge
        Yes on Performance Pack definitely. As to exact onboard systems, no answers.
      ICantDrive88
      • 1 Year Ago
      Any word on how they are going to bastardize the NA market one? They haven't offered dual zone climate control since '07 and they never had a US spec on with LED rear lamps. My guess is both go bye bye in the name of cost... :-( At least offer one with these options!
        vtecgreen
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ICantDrive88
        As a current MK6 owner, came here to say amen. There are a few sweet options that the Euro-spec GTI's get that we just don't -LED tails, Auto dual zone climate - Rear Fog (obvious one w/ different lamps). I know its a cost savings measure, and you can easily spec one in Europe for more money than anyone can dream of, but still - I'll wait to see the US spec before I make my judgement.
      Monthra 77
      • 1 Year Ago
      The Greatest Hot Hatch on the planet is back!!!!!!!! Unless you count the Focus ST, or the Mazdaspeed 3, or the WRX, Or the Lancer Ralliart, or..... Wait the old Cobalt SS could beat it too, maybe the..... Nope still gonna get spanked by an old Neon SRT-4. Wait even the PT cruiser GT will show it its taillights? Is there a small fast car that isn't slower than a GTI? How about the Hyundai Veloster Turbo? Nope, still faster. But the fit and finish will be awesome. Seats will be extra comfy when you are waiting for the tow truck when all the electricals fail. Why is everyone so in love with this car?
        Lachmund
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        perhaps you shoudl try drivin' one
        Jim
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        Oh wow, 0-60 times. How so very important they are for every single aspect of daily driving. The golf is popular for a reason. Dont knock it till you've driven it.
          Baylok
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jim
          It's very important if you have 5 or 6 short ramps in your daily commute.
          Gorgenapper
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jim
          I have a short ramp in my daily commute, but it's so close to where I live that I force myself not to take it - reason being that oil temperature would not be enough to safely use boost, and I don't want to tempt myself.
        Z1Performance
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        And then you turn, and a GTI goes from mid pack to up front. I'm a fan of all these gen cars. Have substantial experience with WRXs over the years and we own an MS3. A GTI is a fantastically fun car to drive. It's always been sedate looking but it ages well, and has one of the best steering and interior in the sub $30k world.
        brucec039
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        It used to be that the GTI offered a lot of refinement and some sportiness at an economy price. Others didn't. The competition has come on enough so that this new update is not really enough. But the loyalty and love of the GTI nameplate carry on. There is a whole subculture built around these, much stronger than any newcomers to the segment.
        Scooter
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        LOL...Been wondering the same thing, Autoblogs love affair with the GTI reminds me of C&D's love affair with the 3 series.
        knightrider_6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        LOL. I can't believe people throw away so much money buying these toy cars.
        MMM
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        You have no clue. The only fail is in your bran my friend.
          knightrider_6
          • 1 Year Ago
          @MMM
          "The only fail is in your bran my friend." well, he can always switch to Honey Nut Cheerios. LOL
        Autothoughts
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        Why is everyone so in love with this car? My question is: Why would anyone not love this car? Have you ever driven a GTI? It is practical, fun to drive, and extremely well built. Only looking at 0-60 times on a spreadsheet does not constitute getting beat unless the one single defining aspect you care about is going in a straight line. The GTI has never been a drag racer.
          brucec039
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Autothoughts
          True. But in recent tests on 5th gear, in car mags, edmunds, etc, too-soft handling was one of the pitfalls vs the competition. It's fine for 99% of drivers, but it doesn't really have a performance edge in handling either. It wins on refinement and solidity, for those who prefer that.
          Indubitably
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Autothoughts
          Good points until the electrical starts to fails 80k miles down the road.
          Zoom
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Autothoughts
          Exactly...it's not all about going 0-60 in a straight line.
        ICantDrive88
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        You've never had a GTI is my guess. VW is notoriously conservative with the times they publish. The MKV actually did a 6.0 sec 0-60 w/DSG, this one will be in the mid 5's which is pretty excellent considering it's under $30k. I used to toy around in my '07 and spank Cobalt SS's, Neons SRT-4s and the rest. GTI was quick and you could launch it faster than any manual could ever allow.
        akitadog
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Monthra 77
        My '08 GTI has been virtually bulletproof for almost 60K miles, and the VERY slight issues it experienced weren't even drivetrain-related.
          Brandon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @akitadog
          My friend has a 01 gti with 160k miles and he has had very little problems with it and im sure it'll probably make it past 180k easily.
      Jai302
      • 1 Year Ago
      A commendable job by Volkswagen. They couldn't make it any more obvious that they stole the 6/7 series headlights
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      Autoblogs love affair with this plain dishwater looking hatchback is ridiculous. With performance you can find almost anywhere, I still don't think the red line on the front grille is enough to justify the price of this thing.
        Matthew Davis
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        More limited-knowledge based comments. Joy.
        Buckus Comments
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        If you're buying by the numbers, the GTI is probably not for you, so, please, move on. If you actually drive one you will appreciate the simplicity and refinement of the layout, the quality of the cabin materials, the smoothness of the ride and the confidence-inspiring high-speed stability. That's not to say those other cars don't have one or two of those other things, but the GTI just seems to get the right mix for the daily driver. I can crawl along in traffic or blast along a twisty back-road and the GTI is comfortable on both. Plus, although you may not like the styling, it tends to age well vs. the gee-whiz spoilers and flare of some of the competition.
          Bryan Rex
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Buckus Comments
          No, no you won't, i've test driven the focus st and this GTI.. both are quick, the ride feels similar, focus st shifts better... but the biggest difference... the GTI is SO DAMN BORING... it feels old, stale... forgotten
        knightrider_6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        oh snap!
          Scooter
          • 1 Year Ago
          @knightrider_6
          I guess I should accept the fact that Autoblog will always say the GTI is the worlds greatest hatchback. Maybe if they keep making articles about it, it will come true?
        pavsterrocks
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        Drive one, then speak. The steering feel alone is unmatched by any other car in its price range.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scooter
        [blocked]
      Rotation
      • 1 Year Ago
      AB, you fawn too much over VW rectifying a major error. They should have had a real LSD diff before. You got one one in a Dodge Neon SRT4. You got one in a Cobalt SS turbo. You get one in a Mazdaspeed3. Heck, you got on in an Acura Integra Type R 18 years ago! VW finally puts one on and you act is if they have shaken up everything instead of merely correcting a long standing egregious deficiency . Oh, and it's still not even standard. I really can't understand what VW has done to be deserved to get such treatment from journos.
        Hello, Brian
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        Drive it and understand.
          Matthew Davis
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Hello, Brian
          Rotation - you haven't driven this car, have you? Keep your mind open for a sec. The dynamics on this GTI Performance nicely outstretch those of the Focus ST. Better materials inside and out everywhere, too.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Hello, Brian
          Drive it and understand other companies did this decades ago. You underscore my point further by acting as if VW deserves special treatment. Look how great an LSD drives. Yes, that's the point. These idiots denied you a great LSD drive for over a decade.
        Gorgenapper
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Rotation
        This reminds me of Apple finally putting text messaging on the iPhone and getting it hailed as the next great innovation.
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