Expert Reviews

Day-by-Day Review: 2015 Volkswagen GTI

Day 1

This week it's the every man's hot hatch! I've actually had a lot of compliments on this car and it's only Tuesday. I guess people really like a car they can aspire to actually afford and own. Or maybe it's just the bright red colour making it stand out in a crowd of boring grey, white and black cars.

For 2015 the new Golf and of course the GTI is built on Volkswagen's new MQB Platform, it's lighter and stronger than previous platforms which means more rigidity and better performance. This new platform is also more efficient and allows VW to create a more spacious vehicle in the same footprint.

Also new for 2015 is a new infotainment system or in Volkswagen speak a new MIB. This new system has a faster processor, better graphics and more features. Thank heavens, because the old system was unbearably slow, it seemed like at times I reached my destination before the thing booted up... it actually did do that once in the winter.

Also new is the "revised" styling, less bubbly and more slab sided. As mentioned I have had a lot of comments on the looks of this car so it must be appealing; I kind of liked the older style more myself.

My tester is loaded with the new Performance Package, Technology Package and the automatic (DSG) transmission, topping out at just over $37,000. It still seems like a relative bargain when you consider what you get included -- oh and those plaid seats!

Pricing: 2015 Volkswagen GTI
Base Price: $35,190
Options: DSG Transmission -- $1,400; Technology Package -- $695
Freight: $1,605
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $37,385

Ford Focus ST
Mini Cooper S
Subaru WRX


Day 2

I really like leather seats, but on days like today, when the temperature soars to 34 degrees Celsius I'm happy to see cloth seats when I open the door of my car to go home. And in the GTI, when you open the door it's even more dramatic as the plaid seat covering jumps out at you -- hello there!

Those seats really do dress up the interior. Without the plaid the interior would be rather boring as the rest is for the most part just your basic black vinyl and plastic. The centre console is actually a textured black plastic with a honeycomb pattern but I didn't notice it until I looked a second time in my photos.

Of course the appeal of the GTI is that it is an understated sports car that is also utilitarian. With its 60/40 split-folding rear seats and hatchback design the GTI provides plenty of cargo capacity without much compromise.

My tester is equipped with the Performance Package, which really adds to the performance, unlike many packages that just add bling. The performance package adds 10 hp (for a total rating of 220 hp), GTI logos on the brake calipers, summer performance tires and the biggest key – a locking front differential. What does that mean for the everyday Joe? No more one wheel peel! The locking differential ensures better traction in performance driving but will also help in the winter as well.

The performance pack also offers a dynamic chassis control that adjusts steering response, throttle control, the previously mentioned differential, the ride firmness and the shift points of the DSG transmission if so equipped.


Day 3

It really impresses me when I step out of a car that costs $70,000 then get into a car like this GTI that is nearly half the cost yet enjoy driving it more!

The 2015 GTI is doing just that when compared to the 2015 C400 I drove last week. The GTI is just as quiet if not actually quieter than the Mercedes-Benz, but the suspension is more compliant and adjustable with the DCC system. Handling is impressive as well, with sticky summer tires mounted on this car, the GTI will never run out of grip.

Wind noise is zero on the highway but the tires do hum a bit, put the DCC in comfort and it is immediately noticeable that the suspension and chassis has been softened up. But switch it to sport and the shifts become abrupt with a snap and pop from the exhaust, the throttle response opens up and the suspension becomes taught and quick to react.

Unfortunately you can't be a boy racer everyday... or can you? But if you can't the GTI delivers around town running errands as well. It is easy to drive, easy to zip in and out of traffic or parking spots, while providing the versatility of the hatch. Visibility is good all around, although I'd like slightly larger side mirrors.


Day 4

A lot of enthusiasts swear by the GTI as the best all-around performance car available on the market. A lot of those enthusiasts vote with their wallets as well and who am I to argue with them, right?

Well... right! Because the GTI impressed me quite a bit this week, with super performance, versatility, comfort and all around quality while delivering mind boggling fuel economy at the same time -- performance daily driver bargain?

What was the fuel economy? After a week of hammering the throttle to listen to the snap of the exhaust on upshifts and feeling the push of the turbo I still managed to average 7.8 L/100 km. I'm a little dumbfounded honestly how it is possible to provide that much power and still sip fuel better than some basic economy cars with half the power.

So to those enthusiasts that swear by the GTI as a performance bargain that they can take to the shops, to the track and home again, a salute to you and the GTI you love.