WASHINGTON — The redesigned Volkswagen Golf, the 2015 North American and Motor Trend Car of the Year, lives up to the hype.
With five models, VW has a Golf for most buyers looking for a compact car. The base Golf starts at around $19,000. There’s also the sporty GTI, with 210 turbocharged horsepower, the serious sports car Golf-R with nearly 300hp, and an electric e-Golf and the clean Diesel Golf TDI.
Volkswagen needs this 2015 Golf to boost lagging U.S. sales.
This week we focus on the Golf TDI. With its nearly 600-mile range, you won’t have to stop very often for fill-ups. After a week and 267 miles of driving with a heavy dose of stop-and-go short trips, I managed 36.8 mpg, which is a tiny bit better than the sticker of 36 mpg between city and highway. But the price for diesel fuel seems to be pretty high, on par with premium unleaded prices, so make sure you price out fuel costs before you buy. The times I jumped on the highway, the fuel economy zoomed to 43 mpg, and I even saw 48 mpg on I-95 with no traffic. The diesel starts to make sense if you are mostly on the highway.
I drove the top-of-the-line SEL trim-level Golf TDI, with a sticker price of $31,605 — about $1,000 more than the gas version of the Golf with the SEL package. You can save yourself a quick $1,100 if you choose a manual transmission instead of the automatic, and get better highway mileage.
The SEL trim level is pricey, but you get a touchscreen NAV system, panoramic sunroof, keyless entry with push-button start and a decent-sounding Fender sound system. There is also a rear view camera that pops out of the VW symbol in the back, keeping the camera clean even in bad weather, snow and road salt. It’s quite a nifty place for the camera. Even the interface and NAV seemed to work a little better than in a VW I tested previously. However, there is no blind-spot monitoring like in most of the competition.
The new 2015 Golf TDI is fun to drive, with plenty of torque from the turbo diesel engine. It does a good job soaking up most of the bumps, with only the bigger potholes upsetting the nice ride. The car does well in the turns, but choose a GTI if you want to carve up back roads all the time. The TDI does the daily commute well, and the greater the distance the better for fuel economy. I never felt it lacked any power. You can really only tell it’s a diesel at startup.
The new 2015 Golf TDI is an efficient highway cruiser with a more upscale interior than most in the compact class. Now with more space inside and a slightly more modern look outside, the Golf might be just what VW needs to get new buyers in the door and keep loyal TDI and Golf owners coming back for more.
Editor’s note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI , FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.
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