What a state of bliss the new Golf puts you in when cruising to work or play. Compact enough for city maneuvering and parking, versatile enough to load up your mountain bike and hit the trails and sporty enough to challenge adrenaline rush when dopamine is needed in heavy doses. Backed by a long history of success and a cult-like following to carry on its legendary moniker, the Golf is as important to VW as protein is to body builders.
Marking the 40th anniversary of the Golf, 2014 welcomes a brave new world for the 7th generation hatchback which launched in 1974 in Europe. With over 30 million vehicles sold worldwide since inception, the Golf defined a new vehicle segment and ignited a stir amongst its followers. Later on it would be introduced in the U.S. with welcoming arms. The latest 2015 models Automotive Rhythms drove in the San Francisco Bay Area were lighter, bigger, more fuel efficient and powerful and much more versatile than the models they replace. For example, the Golf offers 93.5 cubic feet of passenger volume and 22.8 cubic feet of trunk space. Moreover, its flexible architecture allows electric, hybrid, natural gas, and turbodiesel variants, with FWD and AWD platforms and three or five door styling. A panorama roof provides your source of Vitamin D and 24 city / 34 highway mpg gives a piece of mind that your hatchback purchase is worth its weight in gold.
In San Fran we started the chilly morning in a Golf TSI SE before upgrading to the “hot hatch” GTI. The Golf GTI is a special vehicle. It simply furnishes any driver with happy feet! Power emanates from VW’s 2-liter turbocharged DI 4-cylinder TSI with 210-horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque (up from 207). And the DSG transmission, which also incorporates launch control, is amazingly quick shifting (can also be paired with the 6-speed manual). At times I wanted to drive the Tornado Red GTI slow through Northern Cali and to be seen, but my alter ego said “hell no, this is the newest GTI Kimatni!” So I set the vehicle in “sport” and did just that. The metal pedals, Audi-like sport steering wheel with the flat bottom, the red cross-stitching, paddle shifters, direct steering response and bolstered seats certainly brings out the Tanner Foust in all of us. Before redlining in third gear for example you can accelerate to 80 mph. The chassis sits .6” lower than standard Golfs and DCC adaptive damping is introduced for aggressive handling. VW also offers a 2-stage stability control system on the GTI to counteract any mishaps from high-speed maneuvers or impending loss of vehicle control. Add in the $1,495 Performance Package and receive larger, vented 13.4” front (up from 12.4”) and 12.2” vented rear discs to your standard 18” aluminum-alloy spins, 10 additional horsepower and a torque-sensing limited-slip differential. VW is positioning the Golf GTI to battle directly with the Focus ST, Impreza WRX and Civic Si.
For the Golf, VW’s latest gen 1.8-liter turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque gets the ball rolling. It is paired with either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission. If clean diesel is your thing, and it is certainly my preferred engine, then go with the 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct injection 4-cylinder diesel with 150-horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm. The TDI pairs with a 6-speed manual or VW’s electrifying 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. Fuel economy is as amazing as Spidey with 31 city / 42 highway mpg.
The Golf feels light because it is light. Weight reductions are up to 79 pounds (depending on vehicle specs) and all models comprise 28% ultra high-strength steel. Additionally, the 2015 Golf is far more compliant and intelligent than its predecessor. For example, this model gets a big break with the application of Fender’s premium audio system. Based on a bevy of bass, expect the V-Dub to rock you Wall to Wall like the Wizard’s John on your morning commute to the office. No coffee necessary with Fender on deck! VW also sources the new Golf to introduce their 5.8 “MIB” touchscreen multi-media system and navigation. A bit cartoonish, it could use a little more aptitude.
Safety and performance technology go hand-in-hand since the Golf is empowered with the optional Park Distance Control, Forward Collision Warning, Bi-Xenon headlights with Advanced Front-lighting System and a standard safety feature, the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which actually brakes the vehicle after the first impact to lessen the chance of a secondary crash.
On sale in August, the Golf will be available in a multitude of trim levels and option packaging to cater to the diverse needs of buyers. Pricing starts from just $17,995 for a Golf “Launch Edition” 3-door manual. VW is also introducing a limited edition Sport Model for $26,930. The cosmetic package is style based, not performance oriented and bestowed to 650 Golfs. The Golf GTI goes on sale in June and commences pricing at $24,395.
Once again VW has scored a few key goals with the latest Golf and Golf GTI to advance to the top. In fact, expect to see the sporty hatch profiling at the World Cup in Brazil with the biggest names in soccer as the fans scream Gooooolllffff!!!