By on December 9, 2014

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI13 years ago, the Golf-based Volkswagen GTI produced 180 horsepower from a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. Over the last week, I’ve been driving a brand new Golf that’s also fitted with a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder. It generates 170 horsepower.

In 2002, you could pair Volkswagen’s 1.8T with a 6-speed manual transmission. Our test car used a 5-speed manual.

Is this progress? Strangely, yes.

To begin with, the horsepower comparison is deceiving. The new car makes way more torque: 185 lb-ft at 1600 rpm compared with 173 lb-ft at 1950 rpm. There’s also progress in the form of efficiency: It travels 25% farther on a gallon of fuel, according to EPA testing procedures. On regular fuel. The old car drank premium.

Though it’s not a spec-sheet superstar, the new 1.8T is still a very quick car when mated to the 5-speed manual. And though the transmission would surely benefit from a tall sixth gear and feels as though it could use more tightly spaced ratios, shift quality is excellent. The clutch is friendly, with no learning curve required.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TSIOver the course of a decade and multiple generations, the Golf has made gains. Not in terms of outright power, but in overall refinement and the quality of the driving experience. These upgrades are unlikely to change the fact that most American small car buyers won’t consider a Golf. Like the well-behaved child who always carries his dishes back to the sink with two hands and efficiently and correctly finishes his homework, but who still sees all his parents’ attention paid to his delinquent little brother, der neue base Golf does its level best but still isn’t as desirable as its siblings.

This four-door, manual-shift Golf, loaned to us for a week-long visit by Volkswagen Canada, would carry a USD base price of $21,515, delivery included. As a mid-grade Comfortline example with one option package, this Golf featured a sunroof, leatherette upholstery, and dual-zone climate control. Absent the optional Fender system, audio quality was still more than acceptable. Volkswagen’s 2.0L turbodiesel adds $1300 or less to the cost in the United States. In Canada, where the price of diesel fuel is more closely comparable to the price of regular gasoline, it’s a $2500 upcharge.

With fuzzy carpeting spread across the front doors’ storage compartments and a dash covered in material so squeezable I expected fruit juice to come pouring out, there’s no doubt that the Golf’s perceived quality quotient tops the class. The infotainment system, on the other hand, lags — both in actual use and behind the segment leaders like Mazda Connect. It’s not a terrible system to use – I liked how it allowed me to scroll through satellite radio stations without actually selecting one – but the graphics and operational speed are behind the times. The 5.8-inch screen also seems too small for a proper backup camera, or is it just that the camera isn’t a particularly good one, washed out as it was in daylight and too dim later in the day?

Golf (13 of 13)Comfort is a key Golf edge, with first-rate seats and a huge range of adjustment for both seats and steering wheel. Wind and road noise is just something the owners of other small cars encounter; the Golf offers a proper luxury car ambience, only decontented.

Rear seat space doesn’t impress, however, as the placement of the especially narrow Diono Radian RXT carseat in the middle position required adults alongside to slam the door directly into their hip. Sure, it’s a small car, but many small cars these days offer more usable interior width. Hatchback versions of the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, and Subaru Impreza all have more overall space for humans.

The Golf does possess a bit more space behind the rear seat than the 3 and Impreza, however, and the cargo area is shaped like a box with little intrusion. Seats-down capacity beats the Elantra, as well. Of course, all are surprisingly practical cars, yet they also help to clarify the appeal of small crossovers, as our Baby Jogger Summit X3 needed its wheels removed if it was to fit under the cargo cover in the Golf. Where’s the Golf R wagon when you need it?

Like virtually all continuing nameplates, the Golf has certainly grown over the span of generations. This Mk7 car is 167.5 inches long on a wheelbase of 103.8 inches; 2.6 inches longer than the Mk4 car we mentioned earlier with a wheelbase that’s been stretched nearly five inches. Yet the growth has been contained. Relative to modern machines, the current Golf is just under two feet shorter than a new Toyota Camry and just 7.5 inches longer than the 2015 Honda Fit. It’s 14.7 inches shorter than the latest Jetta, with slightly less wheelbase and slightly greater width.

Golf (3 of 13)Those tidy dimensions are central to the Golf’s on-road appeal. It’s as tossable as a properly set-up subcompact but as unflustered as a much larger car. Mid-corner pavement protrusions don’t bother the Golf even when you’re driving as enthusiastically as you might in its GTI sibling. The Golf’s brake pedal could be firmed up, but the weight of other controls is in keeping with the car’s mission. It’s not a hot hatch, but there’s no mistaking this ordinary Golf (on unaggressive 205/55R16 Continental ContiProContacts) for anything other than the foundation of a great hot hatch. With quicker turn in, sharper throttle response, and just a little more stiffness in the suspension, it would be a wonderful all-rounder. It is not crying out for more torque.

A Mazda 3 offers much of the Golf’s driving appeal but lacks its hushed cabin and always-serene ride quality. Subaru’s Impreza does not come close to matching the Golf’s upmarket interior but offers Vermont’s favourite all-wheel-drive system. It’s obviously difficult for the Golf to match the value and content of the Hyundai Elantra GT and Kia Forte5, but the driving experiences between those cars and the remarkable Golf are worlds apart.

Over the course of the last ten months – but not in the last two – the Golf lineup has been outsold in the U.S. by its own offspring, the GTI. With the Mk7 now widely available, the non-GTI/R/E Golf lineup doubled its U.S. October volume. Yet at 2351 units, it was by no means a popular car in America. According to HybridCars.com, diesels account for 41% of the non-GTI Golfs sold this year. The Golf family is Germany’s best-selling vehicle line, the UK’s fourth-best-selling vehicle, and Canada’s tenth-best-selling car in October.

2015 Volkswagen Golf cargoAside from a frumpy radio and a sunroof visor which crudely slides back and forth, the Golf is an impressive piece, not just lacking in glaring faults but full of admirable elements. One might wonder why Americans are so indifferent, until one realizes that this compact hatch costs about as much as a base Camry. The Golf 1.8 TSI is a car I want, it’s just not a car I want to pay for, not with these interior dimensions and not on this continent. Not when this car travelled 28 miles per gallon in a mix of city and highway driving while the last Golf TDI we tested did 41.

Oh, summon a little compassion for the well-behaved gas-fired Golf. Even when reviewed positively, the whole story deteriorates into praise of its oil-burning sibling. We might as well pile on by mentioning the superior styling of the Mk1’s round headlights.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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147 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Manual...”


  • avatar
    319583076

    Premium drank!

    • 0 avatar
      Wizegui

      I had a change to sample a 2013 Golf Wolfsburg Edition. Admittedly, I’m not exactly a VW fan, but I came away very impressed with the car. I really enjoyed the small premium details such as rear seat air vents, carpet lined door pockets, soft touch dash and door trim materials, and the overall refinement of the driving experience. I was surprised to see that the one I sampled has 225 R17s, as I was expecting 215s. As Timothy mentioned in his review, all these details do come at a price.

    • 0 avatar
      IllTakeAn8WithThatV

      This made me laugh. True that!

  • avatar
    sirwired

    In the opening, you could have emphasized that this is a base-spec Golf, while that fondly remembered one was a GTI.

  • avatar
    jdash1972

    VW was going to rule the world but their styling is the most boring of any carmaker. Passats and Jettas look so similar they are easily mistaken for each other, as if the sedan shape has been perfected and this is it. I drove a Jetta with the 1.8T and DSG, an erratic transmission that shifted roughly and abruptly and didn’t know what to do with the engines power. The interior is boring too, like a miserable cubicle in an office building, the very place you’d like to escape from.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      For some reason VW seems to be intent on sifting every grain of style out of their designs. I half expect the next Golf to just be a cardboard box on wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      jrmason

      No more bland than a Toyota or Honda interior where nothing changes for several model years. I owned an 89 Toyota pick up and a 95 4runner and the interiors were identical. Both had the 22re and a 5 speed and the same axles. Redundancy worked in that scenario and I had few complaints with either vehicle. What I don’t understand is how it can be acceptable for one manufacturer and not another.
      Here’s another comparison for ya, while the wife’s pos Mountaineer was at the dealership for 6 weeks for warranty work that took Ford engineers from Michigan to figure out (I know, WHAT A SHOCKER!) They gave us a brand new 0 mile Hyundai Elantra. Compared to her 01 beetle TDI she drives as a commuter car, the Hyundai rode like a buckboard,had more road noise and rattles, and netted a solid 10 mpg worse than the Beetle.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I wonder how the 6AT is. Wouldn’t mind having this and a Mazda 3 hatch in the stable. I’ve had a good experience with my wife’s MK5 Rabbit so far. Only thing I would say it needs to be great are

    – more HP/torque
    – faster responding transmission
    – better brakes/tires/suspension

    So basically a GTI. But this sounds pretty close to the MKV GTI performance wise.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      The AT is pretty good (I wouldn’t say as good as the Mazda3 however).

      The biggest performer issue I had with my brief test drive was it seemed a little sluggish from a standing start

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I tried the 6AT in the Jetta with this 1.8 and I thought it was responsive. Seems to step off the line faster than the 5cylinder/6AT I tried some years ago, which had an odd delay from a stop.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      The automatic is pretty good for being an automatic. Much better than ye old 01M from a Mark IV. 50000 mile service intervals are required on it using VW’s special gold plated ATF.

      However, the go pedal is a bit touchy when paired with the automatic, at least compared to a TDI with a DSG. But you’d get used to it after a while.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I pity the US diesel car buyer. In normal times, they maybe break even on their choice of engines and fuels, but now, gasoline is something like 25 percent less expensive than is diesel, and they’re taking it in the shorts.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      In my area it is 30% or $0.80 more per gallon. They achieved parity for awhile, but over the last 5 years that I’ve been paying any attention, diesel has never been cheaper than gasoline and most of the time it is notably more expensive. For me, this 1.8 eliminates any and all temptation to go for the TDI. The mpg are closer than before and the power delivery just makes it a much more satisfying car.

    • 0 avatar

      In the Northeast, the price of diesel is pretty much midgrade.

      The recent drop in gas prices shows how moreso diesel is keyed to home heating oil, so prices do go up when the temperature drops.

      When there are those disruptions in supply, though, having cars with two fuel sources makes your life easier. After Hurricane Sandy, diesel was available, gas was not.

      I don’t think the diesel choice is about pennypinching. I keep my cars forever, so there is payback, but the broad flat torque rules in city driving and most of the driving we really do, as opposed to our fantasy life ripping off shifts at redline with the v12 mid engine behind your ears.

      In 70k, my TDi has had oil and filter changes…..thats it.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Actually diesel torque curves are pretty peaky. The peaks just happen to be in the meat of the RPM range for normal street driving. Slightly less extreme situation with turbo engines in general. A little snail the size of a baby’s fist spinning up to 20 PSI at 2000-3000 RPM will make a car feel lively around town and effortless on the highway.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          “Actually diesel torque curves are pretty peaky.”

          Yeah, he’s definitely confusing torque with power. Naturally aspirated engines tend to have the flattest torque curves, while turbo engines tend to provide a flatter power curve because the torque curve peaks at low rpm and then rapidly declines.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        We had a hurricane induced shortage here in Atlanta as well, when the Gulf Coast refineries were flooded. Because nothing was coming up through the pipelines, everything sold out pretty quickly.

        I now have a plug in hybrid. If I see another hurricane coming, all I have to do is fill up before it hits and I’m good for two months.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    What is it with 4 doors in everything? The Golf needs to go back to 2 doors and forget the concept of being a people mover. We did just fine with little 2-door cars for 50 years, why do they have to all be “saloons” now?

    • 0 avatar

      Amen. The idea of a 4-door Golf GTI has always made me uncomfortable. I keep waiting for it to be ‘found out’. (“Hey, that’s not a proper GTI, what are they trying to pull??”)
      And when was the last time VW US offered a 2-door Jetta?…Mk II?
      Bring back the 2-door Fox ‘shooting brake’!

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        “2 door Fox shooting brake”? Hell, Sir! VeeDub has one already in Europe in the lovely guise of a Scirocco. Been very freakin’ patient VeeDub. Get with the mojo already!

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Then buy the 2 door Golf/GTI, VW still sells it. You will, however, also quickly realize why people perfer 4 doors and probably come to regret your decision.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @whynot: Please explain to me why you think I would regret buying a 2-door Golf. What is it about 4 doors that makes it so superior to 2?

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          Well, you specifically might not, I know you have interesting taste.

          But the thing that makes 4 doors superior to 2? Convenience. Even if you never use the back seats it quickly becomes apparent the times you do need to use them how much only having 2 doors sucks.

          Timothy was complaining about the width of the car relative to the car seat. Now imagine how fun it is installing the car seat with only 2 doors.

          Of course I am not entirely clear why you are complaining about the idea of a 4 door Golf. You realize that the Golf has been available with 4 doors every generation, including the 1st?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “But the thing that makes 4 doors superior to 2? Convenience.”
            No. In fact for me it’s the exact opposite, if I have 4 doors then somebody will EXPECT me to give them a lift because it’s “convenient”. If I only have 2 doors and the back seat is obviously small, they’re not going to ask and I can go my own merry way. Even my 4-door Jeep Wrangler runs with the back seats folded down 90% of the time and in 7 years of driving it I have only carried someone in the back seat FOUR times. In fact, with the exception of my very first car–in which my parents rode with me many times while I was learning to drive–I could count the number of times I carried passengers in the back seat of any sedan on one hand each. I have NEVER had need for four doors as such. Clamshell-style half doors like the Mazda RX-8 or the Saturn Ion or even the Ford-style extended cab pickup truck work fine for convenience–but since I don’t carry passengers, I simply don’t need passenger doors and don’t want them.

            I have complained for well over a decade now about how the 2-door coupe has effectively disappeared from the automotive market with the exception of a very limited type of vehicle that subsequently carries high insurance rates. Yes, I like the sporty look of a 2-door coupe and I know that most sedans today can compete strongly with a 2-door sport version in performance and “fun factor”. But 4 doors say you’re a FAMILY person and quite honestly I’m a hermit and have been pretty much all my life. Let others drive the people haulers; I want my car time to be MY time.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            Vulpine: Then the solution is clear. You have to learn to say no to other people. My car has 4 doors and I refuse to play taxi cab, so nobody asks me anymore.

            If having 4 doors somehow puts an expectation that you must carry other passengers that is your fault, not the automakers.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @Vulpine, just like small trucks 2dr cars have largely disappeared because people don’t buy them in the numbers they once did. The fact that you purchased a 4dr Wrangler kind of proves that fact and shows that once again you are the reason that they are going away. Given the opportunity to purchase what you claim you want you didn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Actually, whynot, it’s the dealers’ fault for ordering nothing but 4-door cars for dealer stock for the last 15 years. The 2-door Jeep Wrangler still sells like hotcakes, even if not as many as the 4-door model. The Mustang, Camaro and Challenger still sell in good numbers, if not huge numbers. The point is that there IS a percentage–a statistically-significant percentage–of drivers who simply do not want 4 full doors on their car or truck. It’s as simple as that.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            @vulpine you being too much of a pushover to deny someone a ride is not VW’s problem.

            Similarly you not needing a rear seat doesn’t mean VW shouldn’t offer it. You do realize there are other people in the world who buy cars right?

            And again VW offers the 2 door Golf you want. Do you just like to hear yourself speak?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @sportyaccordy:
            I’m not saying they shouldn’t offer a 4-door, I’m saying almost nobody offers a 2-door and THAT is what I’m griping about. If I want 2 doors, I don’t want to be forced into a 4-door model just because they don’t make what I want. Very few cars in today’s market interest me simply because they have two too many doors. That includes one of my favorite pickup trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            @vulpine nobody is “forcing” you to do anything. You clearly didn’t know the Golf was still available in 2 doors (hence your initial gripe that VW needs to go back to them- they never left) and now you are trying to backpedal

            Why is it so difficult for you to say “I was wrong” and move on?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You really need to read what I write, sporty. How many more times do I need to say that dealerships don’t tend to carry them? The only 2-door models I find at ANY of my local dealerships are the purpose-built “sport” models unless there simply isn’t a 4-door version built of a given model. The only 2-door cars at my (not so) local VW dealership is the Beetle and it’s been that way for years except when a special-order car comes in–and that doesn’t stay on the lot more than 2 days while the buyer takes delivery.

            But what if I wanted a 2-door Charger?
            What if I wanted a 2-door Volt?
            What if I wanted a 2-door Fusion? (Granted, I wouldn’t; I’ve never owned a reliable Ford product.)
            Heck, what if I wanted a 2-door Tesla? (And I do.) The Roadster is no longer built.
            The only 2-door pickup trucks I like are the extended cab, clamshell (suicide) door models which limits me to Ford (remember what I said about Ford), Toyota and the GM mid-size twins and the Toyota is the only one small enough for my needs but is uncomfortably tight in the cab–even compared to my Fiat 500 which is much, much smaller than that Toyota.

            In other words, almost nobody makes a 2-door in the models I prefer and the few that do either have to be custom ordered or have other issues making them unsuitable. The Jeep Wrangler and the Fiat 500 (for now) are the only ones I really like (and yes, I do know that the smaller Japanese models have 2-door variants or special 2-door models. Did you know I’ve only owned one Japanese vehicle in my life and now one European?)

            Am I prejudiced? Perhaps. But not necessarily in the manner you may perceive. I just don’t LIKE the majority of imports I see on the road. I don’t like their looks and I don’t like the impression of the driver they give–either a worker-ant with no sense of self or giving a false sense of status (Hey, I’m driving a BMW!). I own and operate my own business and I don’t pretend to be more than I am. I drive what I drive because I like what I drive. That F-150 I owned only garnered 5,000 miles in three years of ownership; I’ve already put 500 miles on that Fiat 500 in less than 2 weeks.

            So let me ask again: how are the dealers and OEMs not forcing me to conform if they don’t make what _I_ want to drive?

        • 0 avatar

          You clearly don’t have kids. Try getting the little monsters into the five point F-1 harnesses called child car seats bent into the back of a two door Golf. Ow !

        • 0 avatar
          seanx37

          Ummm…easier to get in an out of? You can actually bring people with you somewhere? Lower insurance rates?

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      According to the VW.com comfigurator, the base Golf has two doors.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        The configurator is one thing; when’s the last time you actually visited the lot?

        I mean, I fully understand why the 4-door is the more commonly sold version of any brand or model, but that’s because families NEED 4 doors to readily handle carrying their kids. Bloomin’ baby seats are nigh-on to impossible to install when you have to squeeze it between the front seat-back and the B-pillar of a 2-door. I get that. But I have no need for a baby seat and never had a need for a baby seat–legal or not. And certainly I wouldn’t have needed it in BOTH my cars.

        The problem is that dealerships won’t order a 2-door for their lots where it might sit for a week or two when a 4-door might sell in days. Too few people actually order cars any more because of the OEMs “packaging” all their options so as far as the OEMs are concerned, what the dealers order is what the buyers want. That’s not necessarily true. With my Saturn Vue and my Jeep Wrangler, I got exactly what I wanted by ordering simply because the dealerships didn’t have any on their lots OR on order for stock inventory. Yes, the Fiat came from dealer stock but that was more due to a need to get something NOW rather than waiting for an order to arrive. I promise you, next car purchase is almost certain to be a custom order if the OEMs don’t start taking some control back from the dealerships.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          Why would the OEM and dealer care? They are getting money for the car whether you buy it from dealer stock or special order it, although the dealer would obviously prefer you buy a car they already paid for.

          Dealers are not holding the OEM’s hostage, their is no control that OEMs have to wrestle away from them, because the dealers are, in fact, buying what a majority of their customers want- you even admit it yourself:

          “The problem is that dealerships won’t order a 2-door for their lots where it might sit for a week or two when a 4-door might sell in days.” (except with the Golf you could probably stretch a few days to a few weeks and a few weeks to a few months).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Your viewpoint, whynot, is a bit short-sighted. When people go to buy a car, MOST will take whatever is available because there is so little choice. If whatever available is a 4-door model, then that’s what they take because what they really want isn’t there. And since they bought what the dealer thought they would want, the OEM decides that nobody wants something else. Believe it or not, the dealerships DO have a control over the OEMs by emphasizing off-the-lot sales vs special order. Maybe you should try reading some of those sale ads in your newspaper or on TV sometime. Those ads always say, “Must be dealer stock” to get that specific percentage off invoice or special interest discount or whatever.

            I custom ordered my Saturn Vue. Why? I didn’t want an automatic and I wanted a sunroof. Everything they had in stock was solid roof with automatic. I custom ordered my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara because everything they had in stock was hard top with the basic radio and automatic. I wanted soft top, satellite radio with disk and aux jack with a manual transmission. In both cases I was willing and had time to wait for delivery. My current Fiat was purchased off the lot specifically BECAUSE I didn’t have time to wait for delivery of one in the color and equipped the way the wife wanted it (she wanted white 500c with red top and Lounge equipment). We’d also considered the Jeep Renegade but even now don’t have any confirmed release date.

            Dealers have also turned our streets and highways into a river of monochrome with only the occasional speck of red or blue. Whatever happened to the sea of color that once flowed down our highways? Finally a few brands are becoming more colorful but the vast majority at the moment is either white, silver, grey, black or red. A neighbor of mine has a 2002 (or so) Ram pickup in a brilliant blue that stands out among all the other cars in the neighborhood. The only other car that catches the eye is an FJ-40 Toyota in bright yellow. My own Canyon Red Jeep Wrangler is so dark that it doesn’t stand out but is still one of the few other vehicles with any color at all on them. This is what the dealers have done to the American automotive market. If they had their way, they’d charge maximum dollar for a plain-jane “only transportation” vehicle. Worse is that too many people are accepting that.

            But that attitude is changing. With the ubiquity of the internet, the OEMs are getting inundated with queries about new colors and new (or different) options. Ford has managed to prove with its trucks that it is no longer cost prohibitive to build dozens of different trim and option packages on the same assembly line. When one product line can build 12 different trim levels with three cab sizes and two bed sizes and varied suspension packages with over a dozen different body colors–it is no longer impossible to build a car or truck a La Carte and still make a profit. If a buyer wants to custom-order a car online, he should be able to do so without being referred to a dealer who is going to do their damnedest to sell something off the lot.

            What I want is what I want. What you want is very likely going to be quite different. Why should we have to settle for something less or more than we want?

        • 0 avatar
          hybridkiller

          Having 4 doors isn’t just about carrying rear seat passengers. I rarely have anyone in the back seat but travel a lot with luggage, bike, etc. and it is SO much easier to load/unload stuff with 4 doors vs 2. It’s funny because the 4dr Golf looks better to my eyes, which is why I chose it – this turned out to be a blessing from a functional standpoint.
          Another thing I like is, with shorter doors it’s easier to get in and out of the vehicle in tight parking situations.
          And fwiw, I’m 6’1″ and the B pillar is not an issue for me.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            My MKV GTI was a 4 door. The two door looked goofy, IMO. I have (2) 2 door vehicles in the stable right now, and they both have really long doors and both sit really low to the ground. The GTI was much more ergonomically friendly and easier to live with on a day to day basis. That said, the one coupe is a 10 year old MINI S that my wife bought. If she had it to do over today, she’d have selected the just-released 4 door MINI Cooper (not Countryman). My coupe was because selected because I wanted light and playful and this was the best thing you can buy for the money. If they had a sedan/hatch version that kept all the fun and most of the light weight, I’d have likely opted for that instead.

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      I’m with you. Four doors just doesn’t work well on small cars – the doors are simply too small. If you are short enough that you can drive the car without the seat all the way back, it’s not an issue, but for me, I have the B-pillar next to my head, and the door armrests and windowsills never extend far enough back. Moving the B-pillar further back is a non-starter: the doors have to be large enough to allow feet through.

      The only real answer is a pillarless setup with rear suicide doors like the Element, Saturn Ion, RX-8, Mini Clubman, and Toyota FJ, or a hybrid like the Hyundai Veloster.

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        What kind of cars have you experienced this in? I hear this used as a defense of two-door cars but I don’t get it.

        I drive a last-gen Civic- a compact 4-door. I’m about 6’1 and 200lbs, so not tiny. When I look to my left, I’m looking straight out the window, no B-pillar anywhere.

        Do you have a gangster lean on? Are you 7′ tall?

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      The Golf/Jetta has been available in 4 door form since the very beginning, as has been the GTI in Europe. As far as I know, VW never bothered to make a performance 2 door Jetta variant (the GLI/GTX were 4 doors). Back when the Jetta was available with 2 doors, less than 10% of them were purchased that way. I loved my ’92 2 door, but offering a 2 door sedan made little sense, especially given that you could get essentially the same car in marginally smaller, 2 door hatchback form. At 18 I thought it looked nicer and sportier. I suspect that now, at 31, I’d just find it less convenient.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      For what it’s worth, my last car was a two-door hatchback, and it’d get obnoxiously warm in the summer because there was no way to ventilate anything past the B-pillar, so you’d be stuck driving around with this huge mass of warm air.

      Admittedly, not having A/C made this worse, but still, even without frequently using the back seat, I like the option of opening the rear windows, even if it’s just for a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      bikephil

      Vulpine-you seem like an angry, childless, unmarried, antisocial guy. Just go drive your Jeep deep in the woods and leave the rest of us alone!

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        You got three of the four correct: Congratulations!

        I don’t drink because I’ve seen what it does to others.
        I don’t smoke because I’ve seen what it does to others.
        I don’t party because it encourages drink and smoke.
        And I simply don’t have the patience to put up with a squalling child of any age. They’re great to visit, but every time I think I want to try, I see some other kid having a temper tantrum.

        But I’m driving that Fiat 500 more than I am the Jeep and just LOVE watching the big V8 guys scramble to keep up with it. Yesterday alone I had a full-sized pickup truck nearly burning rubber to beat me away from a stop light–and was at 50mph, triggering the cruise control, when he finally caught up to me. The same thing happened with a big ’90s Caddy and again I was triggering the ‘resume’ when he finally caught up to me. Meanwhile, the Jeep lets me go where those other two can’t.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      If you have some money to spend, there are plenty of coupes to be had. If you’re looking for something more modestly priced, Honda has the Civic and the Accord for you.

      You can get a two door Golf, but only in the lower trim levels. If you want more stuff but still want two doors, get the GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      I realize that I’m a day late to this party, BUT I purchased a 4-door GTI back in 2010, not because I had kids, but because I have a large dog.

      When I test drove the GTI, it was on a 100 degree day. NC laws require dealer to drive off lot during test drives, so when touring the hatches, my wife took shotgun, and I the back (to give myself an understanding what passengers 3 and 4 will experience.)

      As the model was low on gas, dealer salesman drove off the lot to the station next door.

      Fun fact about the four door: back windows roll down.

      Fun fact about the two door: back windows do NOT roll down.

      While the HVAC to the back seat is nice for an econobox, fun fact about the back-seat: when you turn off the car on a 100 degree day, the back goes from comfortable to ‘surface-of-the-sun’ in about 2 seconds flat.

      Recognizing that I would like to be able to fill my car’s tank on a road trip with a dog or potentially person in the back I went on a search for a 4-door manual tranmission.

      And no, contra your statement about the abundance of 4 doors, I had to travel 500 miles to find one. Every dealer between NC and NJ had an abundance of 2 door models. 4 doors, curiously, were sold out.

      It’s almost as if VW and the customers, understand that having 4 doors is worth the $500, 150-lb premium.

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        “It’s almost as if VW and the customers, understand that having 4 doors is worth the $500, 150-lb premium.”

        The “weight penalty” isn’t 150 lbs – iirc it’s more like 65 lbs.

  • avatar
    TheOtherGoose

    For many in the US, VW products will always be saddled with reliability concerns. I have a love/hate reaction to any VW – I know they drive well and have great design but they “break” too easily. After suffering through the coil pack and window regulator fiasco (and the poor support from VWofA), VW is in a deep hole with many consumers.

    • 0 avatar
      EAF

      I’m with you Goose. I can’t comprehend how anyone could ever contemplate owning one of these curses. I don’t care how well they may drive! I have a co-worker who is currently riding his bicycle to work every day in the freezing cold and rain because his 1.8t is broken (again). Having wrenched on cars (recreation)of every make for 16 years now, VW is by far the worst to work on and the least reliable (IMO). Blown turbos, coil pack issues, oil sludge, oil consumption, transmission slipping, interiors falling apart, electrical issues, water pumps… I just did a carrier bearing on a Toureg flimsiest design of all time!

      • 0 avatar
        Nedmundo

        I completely agree, and after our experience with a 1995 Jetta GLX, I’ll need to see a long positive track record before I’ll consider another VW. All the “initial quality” stuff doesn’t matter, because the real problems often begin a few years in. I loved many aspects of our Jetta, especially the VR6 engine, but it really started to fall apart as the mileage climbed and was plagued with a number of issues. By contrast, my 2010 TSX still feels new at 83,000 miles, and virtually nothing has gone wrong in five years. I realize it’s much newer, but mid-1990’s Hondas were no different.

        If it weren’t for reliability concerns, I’d love to have a GTI or Jetta GLI, but I’d sooner buy a Focus ST even with the madness of MyFordTouch.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          The current iteration of MyFordTouch is very usable, see Jack’s review of the Lincoln that was posted a few days ago.

          I have it in my car and have no complaints. It is a 2014, though.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I had MFT issues with an early 2012 Focus. I have had zero issues since mid 2012. That would be over 100K miles on at least nine MFT equipped vehicles (that doesn’t count the occasional rental). Not one problem. No frozen screen, no reboot, no wonkiness.

          • 0 avatar
            Nedmundo

            Fair enough. I’ve only tried MFT in a 2012 Focus rental, and I hated it. (I liked the car overall though.) My parents just bought a 2014 Escape, and are having issues with MFT, but they’re older and have trouble with technology generally. I’m sure I’d get used to MFT, but I’m also sure I’d prefer the straightforward, old-school controls in a WRX.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Foley

      Amen, brother. The local VW dealer has two 2015 “launch edition” Golfs with 1.8T and 5-sp manual for $18,500. I want one, and I can afford one, but I suspect it would be much less reliable than the 24-year-old Miata and 14-year-old Saturn I’m driving now.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        You suspect a new car of any make would be “much less reliable” than a 24-year-old car and a 14-year-old car. Really.

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Foley

          I’ve owned the 14-year-old Saturn since new, and it has had one breakdown in that time (starter, which I replaced myself).

          I’ve owned the 24-year-old Miata for four years, and it has never broken down.

          So unless the 2015 Golf can provide more than nine years of trouble-free service, it would be less reliable than my current cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Occam

      I was surprised to learn through Reddit that VW and BMW don’t have the reputation for questionable reliability. I don’t know how much of that is home-market patriotism, or perhaps because there’s no extra cost to repair a German car in Germany, and a better dealer network.

      • 0 avatar
        whynot

        Europeans in general are usually more willing to put up with less reliable cars. Remember they typically are not driving as much or as far and usually have better public transportation options available if their car is not.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          And just think of all the European brands that have been driven from out shores. All the French cars, most of the Italians, and the British are considered to be even worse than the Germans. Yeah, you could say reliability is not a concern to Europeans.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          I think most US VW issues are caused by VW of America. The same VW cars in Canada don’t have as bad a reputation.

          The main problem seems to be that US VW dealers can’t deal with whatever problems come up. Maybe their hands are tied by the distributor.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          I’ve known Europeans – in fact, I am European – and I haven’t known the Germans, in particular, to be especially tolerant of things not working properly. VWs are ubiquitous in Germany – I’m there weekly – and you just don’t hear about them having the issues over there that they have in North America. I don’t know why that is, but it is.

          In a place where a middle-aged woman talks casually about how she takes her up! (100 hp) to its 100+ MPH top speed on a regular basis (true story!), you know it’s not because they’re seeing easier use than we do cruising at a steady 75. In fact, just the other week I saw a Mk2 Golf pulling, and I’m not exaggerating here, a >15′ trailer. I don’t know how heavy said trailer was, but it stuck out in my mind because you’d never see that in North America.

          My guess is that their techs are more competent on those cars (just as some American mechanics prefer to work on American cars, German mechanics might prefer their domestics), the dealer/parts network far more accessible, and the German mentality of keeping their cars maintained to the letter.

          For what it’s worth, I took my Mk2 Jetta to 110+ MPH the day I sold it at 160k miles.

      • 0 avatar
        Zekele Ibo

        It’s because in North America, German cars are compared to Japanese cars. In Europe, German cars are compared to French cars. :)

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    A year ago this month, I rented a four-door Golf with the slush box. I then drove it 550 miles and enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it more with the stick shift, but it was a rental, so that’s how it is. Yes, I’d buy one.

    • 0 avatar

      I took a Golf 2.5 in lieu of a huge loaded Journey during a rental between Montreal and Boston on unfamiliar roads, at night, in a mixture of sleet and pouring rain. It was beyond reproach the entire time. Smooth, stable, responsive.

  • avatar
    tedward

    A couple quick points. I’ve been digging in to this drivetrain for the last month or two as my wife wants our second family car to be a MKVII wagon.

    One: the 1.8T makes 200 lb/ft in the Golf, in every other car it makes the 184 number. I’m not sure if this is software or plumbing related, I suspect software. I would love to know which version the sportwagen will get.

    Two: Isn’t the 6AT an Aisin unit? Doesn’t the Mazda3 also use a transverse Aisin torque converter for their 4 cylinders? Do they really drive differently (implying a software difference) or does it indicate different throttle response and mapping between the two engines? I’d love to know this definitively actually.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      It was difficult to decide which figure to quote. It certainly feels like a full 200, as both VW.com and VW USA’s media site state, but Volkswagen Canada calls it 185 lb-ft on both their consumer and media sites. Yes, 185, not the 184 often stated in early-release info and in Volkswagen Canada’s Golf brochure.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Your comparison of the current 1.8t to the 2002 1.8t is interesting but largely irrelevant. The current 1.8 is the base engine. The base engine in 2002 was the 2.slow. So yes, this is big progress. And the Mazda3 does not have better backseat accomodations than the Golf. I wouldn’t expect adults to ride comfortably outboard of a carseat in a C-segment car.

    The Golf with the 1.8 and manual is a delightful car, it beats my 5 cylinder in every way except probable long term reliability. If VW gets that down, I’d pick this over the Mazda3 2.5, as good as that car is.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      And yet you chose to comment on the alleged irrelevant subject, even calling it interesting?

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were thin-skinned enough to be bothered by mild criticism.

        Your introduction was interesting but flawed. I don’t think I was rude in pointing this out.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          You’re not alone. I also thought it was a little disingenuous to compare the top-spec 1.8T from 2002 to today’s Golf’s base engine. As has been stated, today’s 1.8’s true predecessor is the 2.0, which was – and still is, in today’s base Jetta – rated at 115 hp.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        I think a more relevant comparison of the new Golf to the 2002 GTI is the fact that the 2002 337 Edition GTI (the car you’re talking about) cost in its cheapest form over $4k more IN 2002 – and that’s of course IN 2002 DOLLARS – than the cheapest 2015 Golf with the 1.8T/5MT powertrain costs in 2015 dollars.

        So when you convert 2002 dollars to 2015 dollars, that’s probably an over-$10k difference. Even the mid-level Golf tested here would be almost a thousand bucks cheaper than that 337 Edition, before you even correct for inflation. So yeah, that’s progress.

        The rear seat size differences? Under an inch in every rear-seat measure I can find for all four of the cars mentioned. The Golf has the most upright rear window, so it probably has more real-world cargo capacity than appears on paper.

        A base-model Camry LE costs $24k. A Golf S 5-door with the 6AT, which is a slightly better-equipped car than a Camry LE (alloy wheels rather than steel, for example) costs $22k, so I don’t know where the claim of pricing parity comes from.

        • 0 avatar
          Timothy Cain

          Keep in mind, as tested, the Golf Comfortline with a convenience package in Canada includes dual-zone climate control, heated seats, 16-inch alloys, and light assist. Adding those options to a U.S. car, plus the automatic that Camry buyer wants (like basically every buyer of every thing?) makes for a $26,310 car. Is it a fair comparison? No, but American car buyers have never treated well-equipped compacts fairly, have they, persistently choosing larger size cars.

          Sunroof and an automatic on a U.S.-market Golf S 4-door creates a $22,915 car, $945 less than the basic Camry.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            “$26K?!?!? Pssshhhh. Gimme an Escape, CR-V, or Rav4.”

            -All Americans-

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Other point to make Tim, about reputation.

            Toyota is akin to solid state to Americans. Added benefit that they’re made in the US now. VW’s are made in Mexico, and everybody knows someone who’s had a really crappy Jetta.

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            Sunroof on a Golf S is only X dollars less than a base Camry…huh? A base Camry doesn’t have a sunroof, so…the Golf, minus the sunroof, is two grand less, as I said.

            Look, comparatively equipped, a Golf is around two grand less than a Camry. And that goes all the way up and down the line.

            I don’t know how many people cross-shop Camrys and Golfs, either, but I suspect not a lot of them.

            Dunno how thin you want to slice this…

          • 0 avatar
            Timothy Cain

            Fordson, you’re right, we’re not going to match equipment like for like. The point was that some of the factors which make this specific Golf a special car propel the price into dangerous territory, territory that’s typically been controlled by larger, sedan-shaped automobiles in the U.S. I struggle to believe a typical Golf buyer cross-shops a Camry, but the Camry is an easy (popular) baseline by which we can point out that the Golf’s pricing format – among many factors – may continue to limit its popularity. Then again, in Canada, where this car costs $26K, the whole Golf family outsold the Passat (base price with auto: $26,770) by more than 3-to-1 in October. In the U.S., the Passat is by no means a super-popular midsize car, but it outsold the Golf family 1.6-to-1 in October; 1.7-to-1 in November. Very different markets, as the Golf was Canada’s 10th-best-selling car in October and VW generates 3.6% market share, not the 2.2% of VW USA.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy Cain

        Sensitive? Nay, enlightened. (Nor could I have thought you rude when calling something interesting.) I only commented on, questioned actually, the interesting/irrelevant conundrum as I saw it. As to the topic of 1.8T relevance, the fact that 1.8L turbocharged engines from two Golfs in two different eras make similar power seems relevant to me in terms of progress, regardless of which “trim” uses the engine. If Toyota now made the base engine of their 2015 Camry a 3.0L V6 with less than 190 horsepower, the comparison regarding that car with older Camrys wouldn’t be more favourable because the old car was a top-end Camry while the new one a base level Camry, but rather the new 3.0L vs. the old. Same situation here. And indeed, the progress of the new 1.8T, though it’s similar to the old one on paper, was in fact noted in the review.

        • 0 avatar
          Fordson

          I think you are missing my whole point on “trim” levels of the two cars…back then, 100 hp per liter was reserved for cars with pretensions of high performance, and that’s the model that had 100 hp/liter.

          Nowadays, that specific output is found in grocery-getters.

          The modern counterpart to VW’s 2002 337 Edition is the Golf R – it’s making almost 150 hp/liter. So yes, VW is progressing in specific outputs, if you compare apples to apples.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    I’m tempted to get one of these once I need a big-boy car, but the price does hurt. In Quebec, the model reviewed (which conveniently wears Quebec plates) would cost $30k out the door. I like the features, but I’d be more likely to wind up in a 2 door base model for about $6,000 less, but then I’d be foregoing the extra doors, vinyl seats, sunroof, the larger wheels, fog lights, a handful of electronics, and cruise control (although you can get the latter back in a $400 package). The GTI would be a joy, but at $33k for a stripper 2 door version, it’s beyond what I could justify paying for.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You Canadians have to pay too much for things.

    • 0 avatar
      Corners

      I live in Vancouver but recently spent 2 1/2 weeks in Montreal & Quebec City. As a MK6 TDI owner I was surprised by all the base Jettas on the road, they seemed to be everywhere. There were also a lot of MK7 Golfs around even in smaller towns.
      That said very few monster diesel pickup trucks in Quebec at least privately owned ones that I saw…most people like smaller cars and SUV / crossovers.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        Higher taxes, fewer high-paying jobs, more expensive fuel, and tighter parking are likely explanations for what you saw. Mazda 3s are also disproportionately popular, despite their proclivity for rust on our salt-brine roads.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    I don’t know why people keep referring to the Golf’s rear seat as small. I can sit comfortably behind the driver in a friend’s new Golf, and we’re both 6 ft tall. I don’t doubt that a child’s seat in the rear mid position would make things tight for a pair of back seat passengers, but then so it would in most cars. Remember that the definition of a 5-seater only means that there are 5 seatbelts, not that there’s actual room for 5.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    “Like the well-behaved child who always carries his dishes back to the sink with two hands and efficiently and correctly finishes his homework, but who still sees all his parents’ attention paid to his delinquent little brother, der neue base Golf does its level best but still isn’t as desirable as its siblings.”

    Ooh, bad analogy. The delinquent isn’t more desirable; in fact the opposite is true. The delinquent requires more attention because the little brother in your analogy is… well, a delinquent.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    If it weren’t for the VW badge, I’d be at the dealer tomorrow test driving. But an all new, unproven turbo motor with the same displacement as the old coil pack eating, timing belt tearing motor? Not to say displacement is any correlation, but the subconscious association is there.

    I do love how planted and nailed down they can make a subcompact sized car feel, and how clean the interior and exterior styling is. Toyota and Hyundai especially should take some notes on the styling.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Kinda makes you think how one blogger can put down and have a completely different opinion on transmissions, infotainment, and seating vs. Consumer Reports and other auto journalist’s. Example Consumer Reports can’t stand the rear headroom and infotainment system in a Mazda 3 and others think of it as class leading. I think someone forgot to mention the Mk7 in the Motor Trend car of the year.

  • avatar
    Silverbird

    If you want to properly compare to the old GTI, and willing to feed the new 1.8T 91 octane fuel – chip it for 239 HP and 321 ft/lb
    http://www.goapr.com/products/ecu_upgrade_18tsi_gen3_mqb.html

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      This is a good point. The new 1.8 is very tuneable, and for $500-$600 IIRC, your base Golf can walk a stock GTI in a straight line. That ignores all the suspension, wheel, brake, interior and other feature upgrades that the GTI boasts, but given that in Quebec the price difference between the base and the GTI is about $11,000 out the door, the APR chip comes across as great value for money.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        Do your homework first. I had my GTI chipped at an APR dealer, they broke ECU, denied doing so. Many weeks and thousands of dollars later, I’m back to stage 0. APR’s tuner takes ‘pay to play’ to ‘pay to get played’

        Ironically, between the tuner, APR, and VW dealer service department, the only party that dealt with me honestly was the VW dealer service department.

        So, in reality, TSI 1.8 + $500-600 + risk of having to shell out a couple thousand and take bus or borrow wife’s car for a month or two = GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      I haven’t researched the reliability of the new 1.8 yet, but the new 2.0 scares me, and the GTI and R are on my short list when I need more practicality soon. They are already on the *fourth* revision to the turbo on the GTI. Lots of reports of blown turbos…even completely stock. Some with only a few hundred miles on them.

      http://www.golfmk7.com/forums/showthread.php?t=4780&page=9

      I’d go stage 1 on either the GTI or R, but I’m not buying until the turbo issues get sorted out.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        You need Focus RS. Wait until the NAIAS.

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          If it debuts at NAIAS I’ll at least get to see it. It would definitely be a contender, but I’ll need something with 4 doors (roughly) around April. The 2.3 should have huge tuner support though thanks to the Mustang. I haven’t really considered a Focus ST because the exterior is a little too boy-racery and the interior is too busy, but the RS would have enough performance potential for me to possibly overlook that (even though it will surely be even more “look at me!” on the outside).

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          Argh, farking comment system. I need to remember to just create replies in a text editor and keep them until the comment gods have smiled upon my response. Anyway, if it debuts at NAIAS I’ll at least get to see it. I’ll need something with 4 doors (roughly) around April. I haven’t really considered a Focus ST because the exterior is a little too boy-racer and the interior is a bit busy, but the RS would have enough performance potential for me to probably overlook those niggles (even though the exterior will surely be even more “look at me!”). The 2.3 should have enormous tuner support thanks to the Mustang, so it would definitely be in the running if it gets here in time.

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          Argh, comment eating robot infidels. Try caveman talk. Mmm…RS good. Grog likey. Around April need rolly rolly with 4 doors. 2.3 promising. Big tuner support from Mustang, make many mammothpower.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I have an idea! Are you able to just comment one word, then use an edit to say the rest of what you want? I might have to try this the next time I have to say the special bad word.

          • 0 avatar
            johnny_5.0

            @CoreyDL

            I’ll try that next time. I have no idea what even set off the filter. The one that made it through was attempt 4 or so, and none had bad language (okay so one had “fark”).

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I tried doing that yesterday on another article. Didn’t work at all, and told me I was spamming.

      • 0 avatar
        Delta9A1

        You will want to wait until after the warranty period if you chip it, as VW started flagging chipped cars about 18 months ago, and the service desk makes you sign a declaration that you have not chipped it each time you bring it in for service.

        • 0 avatar
          JuniperBug

          I see little reason to bring a VW into a VW dealership for service in the first place.

          If I needed to bring it in for engine warranty work, I’d either accept that the result for the failure was my fault for upping the power considerably in the first place, or I’d reflash the ECU back to stock.

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          I think the only thing more frightening than tuning an already sketchy turbo on a VW is doing so out of warranty (and I wouldn’t be able to wait more than a few weeks). I hadn’t seen any reports of TD1 action from tuned GTIs yet in the forums. Burger is developing a JB4 for the EA888 in conjunction with some guy in South Africa, so this news would push me strongly in that direction.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I need to find a MKVII and park my ’09 Mazda3 next to it to see the difference in length. Supposedly the 3 hatch is 181 inches long, vs the 167.5 for the VW. I’ve fit a lot of very large objects in the back of my Mazda3 that wouldn’t have fit into a car that’s a foot shorter.

    It seems like the VW gets all its extra cargo space in the height department, rather than more useful length or width.

    • 0 avatar
      Corners

      I traded in a 2005 Mazda 3 Hatch for a 2013 Golf 5 door hatch and the Mazda definitely had more room in the back. We really liked the Mazda and the way it drove however the VW is in a class above for sure…quiet, solid feeling car. No problems in 1 1/2 years and 30,000 kms and with a diesel 6 spd manual we have seen 59 mpg imperial on a long trip!

  • avatar
    Russycle

    “And though the transmission would surely benefit from a tall sixth gear and feels as though it could use more tightly spaced ratios”

    *sigh* For heaven’s sake, that extra gear would cost next to nothing. Why, VW, why??!!

    As for pricing, doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Hard to compare straight across, but a Mazda 3 hatch with sunroof and heated seats will run you almost $2000 more than this Golf, and have fewer ponies under the hood. If VW ever upgrades the gearbox, I’d take a serious look at the Golf.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      5 speeds certainly comes across as cheap and lazy, but you may want to try it in person before making a decision. Several other reviewers have noted that six speeds isn’t necessary in this car given the engine’s broad torque curve. I tried one and would be fine with the ratio spread.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      If they installed a transmission with tighter ratios on one to five and a slightly taller sixth, it would post worse fuel economy numbers on the EPA test because the test would still require higher shift rpms, and it wouldn’t even be allowed to use sixth until 50 mph. So the five speed probably makes more sense under those regulations even if it is more practical and fuel efficient in real-world driving.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    VW needs to bring the 8″ screen available in other markets to the US asap. I’m sure getting by with the 5.8″ screen seemed like a good idea at the time, but it’s now only 0.3″ bigger than the largest iphone 6.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      They need get the GTI Performance Pack on the dealer lots. That’s what a lot of people are waiting for. “It should be here in a few months” is what we’ve been hearing for a year now.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      That’s supposedly coming here for the 2016 MY. Although the rollout for all things MKVII Golf here in the States has been so painfully slow to this point, I wouldn’t really hold my breath.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Like the well-behaved child who always carries his dishes back to the sink with two hands and efficiently and correctly finishes his homework, but who still sees all his parents’ attention paid to his delinquent little brother”

    An accurate description of my 6 years junior brother.

  • avatar
    JD321

    Launch Edition = First cars off the new factory in Mexico = Don’t walk – RUN AWAY!

  • avatar
    jrmason

    My grandfather has owned VW diesels since the mid 80s. 3 Jettas and a Golf to be precise. The first Jetta, an 86, had 310k on the odometer when he drove it to the scrap yard. The body was shot and there were holes in the floor. Pretty typical for the heart of the rust belt. The 85 Golf had almost 200k on it when he gave it to me for my first vehicle and I drove it for 3 trouble free years and put another 50k miles on it. He had a 97 Jetta that was totaled by an errant driver going left of center. His current is an 05 with around 150k miles. He is now into his late 80s so the car doesn’t see much use. I bought an 01 beetle TDI as a commuter car for the wife and it just turned 140k miles. Original steering components in the front end are still tight. Still on original clutch, water pump, and alternator. None of the VWs owned by myself or my grandfather have ever needed anything beyond routine maintenance. The diesel engines have been phenomenal and always netted excellent fuel mileage. The wife’s beetle has returned the best mileage out of the bunch consistently in the mid to upper 40s, hand calculated. I have to wonder out of all the slamming of VW on this site how many have actually owned one, and how many are simply spreading internet filth.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      Or your family has been blessed with a herd of unicorns. Even in the VW forums, you frequently see “Thank god I leased” type sentiment about the diesels too (HPFP issues with what would be a $5K+ repair, intercooler issues, etc.). But of course I’m making this up to spread internet filth, it’s not like owners on the TDIClub forum are reporting these types of issues!

      • 0 avatar
        hybridkiller

        If you actually spend some time on the TDI forums you will know that the concensus is that the HPFP failures are in the <1% range, most of which seem to be concentrated in the 2009-2010 models – and it is unclear how many of those were actually caused by gasoline misfueling. Also according to TDI forum members, VW is now evidently covering these failures out of warranty (within reason).
        This has been overblown to the point of insanity, and mostly by people who never had the problem, much less even owned one of these cars.

        But it's the internet, so, you know…

        • 0 avatar
          jrmason

          Your name along with the picture says it all! Non diesel owners look for reasons not to buy because of the upfront cost and higher fuel prices, but if you are into owning a vehicle long term and have a long commute or in the case of my truck work it hard on a regular basis, nothing else makes as much sense as a diesel. To me the up front cost is a wash because if and when the day comes I ddecide to sell, I know I will get that premium over a gasser or a hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        jrmason

        I am a member of TDIClub and I don’t believe I’ve ever heard somebody say “thank god I leased”. Lots of happy owners reporting 700+ miles per tank of fuel on their high mileage TDI.
        Thank you for proving my point in my above post.

  • avatar
    Trick Fall

    I really like VW’s and would love to get one, but I”m terrified by all of the reliability issues I’ve heard about.I wish they’d offer a five or six year warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      Trick Fall-

      While it’s true that VW built some breathtakingly crappy cars 20, even 10 years ago, so did GM, Ford, and Chrysler. VW hating is a major league sport on forums like this one, but it’s mostly people who don’t respond to – or aren’t aware of – more current data. The gap between the least reliable brands and the most reliable is much less than it used to be. And fwiw, Consumer Reports ranked VW brand reliability higher than Ford, Hyundai, Cadillac, Dodge, and several others in 2013

      If you’re ok with the fact that parts and repairs on a German car are going to cost more, and you absolutely must observe regular scheduled maintenance, then you will be rewarded with a driving experience that even the haters concede is at least a cut above the average car.

      No, I don’t work for VW, nor do I own any stock in the company – and I was never a VW fan prior to 2012.

      • 0 avatar
        Nedmundo

        Good point that the reliability gap between brands has narrowed, but you have to be careful with “current data,” which sometimes only pertains to cars one or two years old. As I mentioned above, many issues don’t arise until a few years into ownership, and they can be serious. They also won’t necessarily appear in “initial quality” surveys or other data available at purchase.

        For example, when I bought my 2001 Saab 9-5 Aero, it had a “recommended” rating from Consumer Reports because it performed well and exceeded their minimum reliability threshold. Three years later, it needed to be towed twice within the span of four months due to failure of critical components, and it turned out both issues were common to the model. One, the failure of a major fuel injection component, later resulted in a recall. Neither issue was likely to occur until around 50,000 miles, so of course neither had any impact on the reliability data when I bought the car. And, of course, by then the 9-5 was no longer recommended by Consumer Reports because of these and other issues.

        This is largely why I will need to see a prolonged track record of strong reliability from VW before I will consider another one.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        The data on TrueDelta don’t seem to bear out your thesis, hybridkiller. I’d love to be a GTI owner, but don’t see how to get there with reliability stats like the Golf has displayed over the most recent decade.

        • 0 avatar
          hybridkiller

          Astigmatism, I don’t know what to tell you. Prior to 2012 I never owned a VW and never wanted one, but I wanted a turbo diesel and the Golf was the best value proposition for me. I’m one of those people who researches major purchases to death. I’m also rather risk-averse, and skeptical of everything.
          I spent months reading everything I could find about the Golf, and TDIs in general, and found the overwhelming majority of customer reviews (and I read hundreds of them) to be very positive, with many reporting flawless ownership experiences (myself included at 3 years and ~48K miles). FWIW I also spent a lot of time on the Golf/TDI forums, and read all the horror stories, mostly second or third hand anecdotes from people with a clear axe to grind.

          My “thesis” isn’t that VWs have somehow suddenly achieved stellar reliability, they’re probably still average at best – it’s simply that they are not the rolling junk that some people make them out to be. And “average” reliability these days is actually pretty good by historical standards.

          All that said, I really couldn’t care less if you or anyone else buys one – to each his own.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            As you would have been able to read in a much more extensive post if it hadn’t been eaten by the moderator fairy, I really would love to join you in Golf driverdom, but ultimately didn’t feel that it was worth the risk given the reliability stats. And unfortunately VW has made those risks difficult to mitigate, by pricing VW leases at considerably above the lease prices for other comparably-priced cars; one common trend I’ve noticed on VW forums is that most people seem to own their cars and shun lease deals, in large part because the lease on a GTI is in the same ballpark as the lease on a 328i or an A4.

            If VW can establish a track record of reliability, I’m there. If they can price their leases such that I can justify leasing one for three years so that I can try out the car without having to worry about the long-term reliability, I’m there. Until then, all I can do is say, You’ve got a nice car, and I wish you the very best of luck with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Trick Fall

        I hear what you are saying, but based on personal experience (friends with late model Jetta’s and GTI’s) I just don’t feel comfortable with the brand and I think I’m far from the only one out there. An extended warranty would go along way towards allaying those fears.

        • 0 avatar
          hybridkiller

          FWIW, I’ll be the first one to say that for someone who needs to make every dollar they spend on a car count, VW is probably not for you (for numerous reasons already discussed)
          Likewise, if you’re the kind of person who will be broken hearted and disillusioned if you end up having to pay for substantial repairs out of warranty, again, a VW is probably not a good bet for you (along with about 10 other major brands I can think of).
          For me it came down to the fact that I bought less car than what I can actually afford (I’m pretty much that way with everything I buy), and I liked the car enough to roll the dice and accept the possibility of major out-of-pocket repairs at sometime in the future. This btw has been my attitude toward every car I have owned.
          I realize that not everyone is able, or willing, to make that choice.

          Fortunately there are lots of other good options out there – enjoy your ride, whatever it is.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I like German cars. I have owned and maintained several throughout my life. They are good, and I did not find them significantly more expensive to own and maintain than any other car.

    The Golf, however, is not a German car. It is a Mexican car. Along with the Honda Fit and the FIAT 500, I have no interest in owning, driving, or maintaining a Mexican car.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      “I like German cars. I have owned and maintained several throughout my life. They are good, and I did not find them significantly more expensive to own and maintain than any other car.”

      I said parts and repairs cost more – which is a true statement, and if you really have owned and maintained several (past the warranty period) you would know this. And thanks for the news flash that the Golf was designed, and the engine and transmission are manufactured, in Mexico – it’s evidently been a well kept secret until now. (sarcasm/)

    • 0 avatar
      jrmason

      So it’s acceptable for American and Japanese cars to be hecho en Mexico but not a German car? Thanks for clarifying that. Sheesh.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    “The 5.8-inch screen also seems too small for a proper backup camera, or is it just that the camera isn’t a particularly good one, washed out as it was in daylight and too dim later in the day?”

    If it were a dealer option, I’d junk the backup camera and go for that Fender system since the base sound system is so dispointing; assuming this isn’t par law as to have one. Honestly don’t need a backup system with this lovely hatch, rather spend the money for creature comfort.

    • 0 avatar
      hybridkiller

      “…the base sound system is so dispointing…”

      I worked in pro audio as a mix engineer and system provider for 25+ years, so I’m not easily impressed, but I’m fairly happy with the base audio. I think the mistake made by a lot of people is judging based on listening to either low bit-rate MP3s or satellite radio which is notoriously lo-fi. The best car audio money can buy will only sound as good as the program source.
      I’ve found that by adding 3 or 4 clicks of fader to the rear with EQ flat, it sounds pretty good with either 320kbps MP3 or CD music.
      Of course if you’re used to having a good sub in a car then yes, you probably won’t be happy with the base rig – regardless of the sound source.

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    “While it’s true that VW built some breathtakingly crappy cars 20, even 10 years ago, so did GM, Ford, and Chrysler. VW hating is a major league sport on forums like this one, but it’s mostly people who don’t respond to – or aren’t aware of – more current data. The gap between the least reliable brands and the most reliable is much less than it used to be. And fwiw, Consumer Reports ranked VW brand reliability higher than Ford, Hyundai, Cadillac, Dodge, and several others in 2013

    If you’re ok with the fact that parts and repairs on a German car are going to cost more, and you absolutely must observe regular scheduled maintenance, then you will be rewarded with a driving experience that even the haters concede is at least a cut above the average car.

    No, I don’t work for VW, nor do I own any stock in the company – and I was never a VW fan prior to 2012.”

    That’s a good point you raise there.

    Whenever someone asks me if s/he should buy a German car, I tell them, “Yes, do it — BUT make sure that you have the time and the means to have it properly serviced.”

    And by “properly serviced”, I don’t mean the nice old hippie guy who’s been tinkering with old VW Microvans, I mean “Take it to an authorized dealer and accept that just a regular maintenance service will set you back by about 500 bucks.”

    German cars are considered class-leading because of the way their chassis are built and engineered and because of many complicated electronic gizmos, and that technology has to be properly looked after.

    Also keep in mind that such a regular maintenance service is usually due once a yar.

    500 / 12 = around 42 bucks a month in savings just for maintenance.

    If you’re okay with that, then go for a VW/BMW/Merc/whatever other German brand. They won’t be any more or less dependable than any other car, but you’re likely to enjoy them more than many other competitor’s cars.

    If you’re not cool with those maintenance costs and just looking for a car you can drive into the ground without giving much thought to it, buy something Japanese. Not as sophisticated as German cars, but usually reliable even when neglected.

    Just my .02……

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    “While it’s true that VW built some breathtakingly crappy cars 20, even 10 years ago, so did GM, Ford, and Chrysler. VW hating is a major league sport on forums like this one, but it’s mostly people who don’t respond to – or aren’t aware of – more current data. The gap between the least reliable brands and the most reliable is much less than it used to be. And fwiw, Consumer Reports ranked VW brand reliability higher than Ford, Hyundai, Cadillac, Dodge, and several others in 2013

    If you are ok with the fact that parts and repairs on a German car are going to cost more, and you absolutely must observe regular scheduled maintenance, then you will be rewarded with a driving experience that even the haters concede is at least a cut above the average car.

    No, I don’t work for VW, nor do I own any stock in the company – and I was never a VW fan prior to 2012.”

    That’s a good point you raise there.

    Whenever someone asks me if s/he should buy a German car, I tell them, “Yes, do it — BUT make sure that you have the time and the means to have it properly serviced.”

    And by “properly serviced”, I don’t mean the nice old hippie guy who’s been tinkering with old VW Microvans, I mean “Take it to an authorized dealer and accept that just a regular maintenance service will set you back by about 500 bucks.”

    German cars are considered class-leading because of the way their chassis are built and engineered and because of many complicated electronic gizmos, and that technology has to be properly looked after.

    Also keep in mind that such a regular maintenance service is usually due once a yar.

    500 / 12 = around 42 bucks a month in savings just for maintenance.

    If you’re okay with that, then go for a VW/BMW/Merc/whatever other German brand. They won’t be any more or less dependable than any other car, but you’re likely to enjoy them more than many other competitor’s cars.

    If you’re not cool with those maintenance costs and just looking for a car you can drive into the ground without giving much thought to it, buy something Japanese. Not as sophisticated as German cars, but usually reliable even when neglected.

    Just my .02……

  • avatar
    redav

    Perhaps the Golf would get more attention from those parents if it could convince them that its reliability isn’t still wetting the bed.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Yeah. Because there’s always going to be someone around to tell them that they know someone whose window regulator failed on a 2001 GTI.

      I don’t love Hondas and Toyotas, but I hope people are not still trying to wrap the Takata airbag debacle around their necks 15 years from now.

      TTAC commenters are known for both their aversion to VWs (mostly due to reliability issues from quite awhile ago) and their love for Panthers (which were last sold to the general public…how many years ago?), but these characteristics are actually two sides of the same coin – the tendency to re-fight not just the last war, but the war before that one.

      If there had been an internet and a TTAC website in 1979, when Panthers first came out, I suspect there would have been a cult of Checker Marathon love, all wagging their heads dubiously about that newfangled rack and pinion steering.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Yeah. Because there’s always going to be someone around to tell them that they know someone whose window regulator failed on a 2001 GTI.

      I don’t love Hondas and Toyotas, but I hope people are not still trying to wrap the Takata airbag debacle around their necks 15 years from now.

      TTAC commenters are known for both their aversion to VWs (mostly due to reliability issues from quite awhile ago) and their love for Panthers (which were last sold to the general public…how many years ago?), but these characteristics are actually two sides of the same coin – the tendency to re-fight not just the last war, but the war before that one.

      If there had been an internet and a TTAC website in 1979, when Panthers first came out, I suspect there would have been a cult of Checker Marathon love, all wagging their heads dubiously about that newfangled rack and pinion steering.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I don’t think the price comparison with a base Camry is really the problem that the Golf faces in the US, as it’s courting an entirely different class of buyer. I would dearly love to plunk my own money down on a GTI, and have thought long and hard about it (to my wife’s great annoyance) since the MkVII was introduced, but I simply haven’t been able to get myself there with the reliability. Looking at the repair stats at TrueDelta, the GTI appears to be doing well for 2013 models, but the last _seven_ reported model years before that are _all_ well below average for number of repairs required. Ordinarily I would just say screw it, I’ll lease and then get a new car when it’s out of warranty, but that becomes hard to justify when Audi and BMW so heavily subsidize their lease deals that you can get a 328i for what you’d pay for a GTI, and in that company, it’s just not worth the trouble or the $$.

    • 0 avatar
      jrmason

      Seriously,you guys need to stop treating these online reports as gospel and get out in the real world. The Ford SuperDuty PowerStroke has outsold GM and Ram nearly every year for the last decade yet they’ve had so many engine related failures they’ve completely started from scratch and went back to the drawing board redesigning their engine platforms 3 times in 8 years. Multiple class action lawauits clearing hundreds of millions of dollars. Blind faith at its finest, and in similar fashion the vast majority of you are blind to reality. Your simply repeating what you’ve heard or read.
      How many of you have actually turned a wrench under the hood of a VW? I am very curious.

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