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2015 VW Golf first drive

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2015 VW Golf

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Forty years and 30 million in sales is an enviable record in the highly competitive auto industry and Volkswagen has done just that as the seventh-generation VW Golf debuts in North America this June. The standard 2015 Golf TSI has arrived at dealers in three- and five-door variants. The GTI and five-door TDI will follow by August. The electric-only E-Golf and a Mk. VII wagon will arrive in the first quarter of 2015. All are bigger, faster and more fuel efficient than gen VI, with generally more content.
The latest VW still looks like a Golf, but this seventh generation offers major change. It's bigger than its predecessor in length and width, but weight is down as much as 79 pounds. It rides on the same platform as the Audi A3 and SEAT Leon, and VW says this platform was designed to carry-over some of the classic styling cues of past models.
The exterior features a new front end with sharper headlight clusters and a narrowed grille. The overall length is up by 2.1 inches, width is up by 0.5 inches, but height has decreased by 1.1 inches. The base Launch Edition has 15-in. steel wheels with covers and the S trim brings aluminum-alloys. The base TDI gets 16 inchers, while upgraded TDIs and TSIs get 17s. Limited edition Sport models get upgraded headlights, exclusive colors and a sporty body kit.
The interior has been completely redesigned with soft-touch materials, along with chrome and aluminum.trim. A wide center console tilts toward the driver; the lower section has a stowage compartment that integrates the Media Device Interface and iPod cable. For the first time, Volkswagen is using touch-screens with a proximity sensor, allowing users to change functions with a swipe of the hand, just like a smartphone.
Cargo capacity increases 30 percent to 93.5 cubic feet (30 percent and the floor of the cargo area can be lowered to increase stowage, which VW says is more capacity than any mid-sized sedan. Shoulder space is increased by 1.2 inches in front; the load-in height is about an inch lower. A collection of standard features includes power doors, locks and mirrors and air conditioning. S models add leatherette seats, steering wheel controls and VW Car-Net connected services; navigation, satellite radio, sunroof, and premium audio are all optional.
The new GTI gets unique interior treatments, with a sport steering wheel, GTI shift knob grip and instrument cluster, special trim inserts, and stainless-steel pedals and foot rest. Distinctive Sport seats feature unique plaid seating surfaces in the S trim and leather on the SE and Autobahn models.
The base engine is now the 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder, mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. This engine gets up 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque and is 20-percent more efficient on the highway than the engine it replaces. The 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder diesel has 150 hp and 236 lb-ft and is also available with either a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox.
The TDI's 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel is VW's next-gen EA288. The engine’s development in Wolfsburg focused on reducing weight and friction, trimming both by at least 15 percent. Horsepower increases by 10 to 150, compared to the '14 TDI; with 236 lb-ft of torque, the diesel delivers 18 percent more twist than the new Golf's standard 1.8-liter gasoline turbo four. Emissions are also reduced substantially, below levels required for California .
Both Golf and Golf GTI have a strut-type front suspension and a multilink rear with coil springs and telescoping dampers, while TDIs are set up with a torsion beam rear. The GTI and R models are both lower and have upgraded brakes. All Golfs get VW’s XDS Cross-Differential System, engineered like a mechanical limited-slip differential. Traction and stability control on the GTI can be set to sport, for more supple performance on the racetrack. GTI also gets progressive steering.
Those of us who have driven the new Golf models were impressed with its steering, braking and overall well-mannered, responsive handling. Quietness, especially the diesel, stood out as major achievements.
The new Golf and Golf GTI models have received the 2014 Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), when equipped with forward collision warning. With a long list of active and passive safety, there are a host of electronic and mechanical Driver Assistance systems.
The base diesel-powered Golf starts at $22,815 and the GTI stickers for $25,215

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