2015 VW GOLF SPORTWAGEN TDI
TESTDRIVENOW OVERVIEW: 2015 VW GOLF SPORTWAGEN TDI QUICK TAKES
The seventh-generation version of Volkswagen’s best-selling car is bigger, lighter, more fuel-efficient, and even more versatile
- Pricing starts at $17,995 for the two-door Golf Launch Edition model with manual transmission
- New TDI® S model reduces Clean Diesel entry pricing by about $3,000
- First U.S.-market vehicle using the new MQB modular platform
- Room for five with a larger trunk than any midsize sedan
- New 1.8-liter TSI® engine with automatic transmission gets 6 mpg improvement in EPA estimated highway fuel economy over outgoing Golf 2.5L
- Standard 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment center among new premium features
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) TOP SAFETY PICK
The seventh-generation Golf goes on sale in dealerships this August, celebrating 40 years since Volkswagen’s iconic hatchback debuted in the United States. The 2015 Golf will be available with two or four doors and with two powertrains: the EA888 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TSI® engine mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission; and the new EA288 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TDI® Clean Diesel, fitted with a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission. This is the first time the entire Golf lineup will feature powerful and efficient turbocharged engines. The Golf TSI gains up to 6 mpg (or 20 percent) on EPA estimated highway fuel economy compared to the 2.5-liter model it replaces.
This new-generation Golf has grown in size yet dropped in weight by up to 79 pounds (depending on model), despite a plethora of new and upscale features. The new generation introduces Volkswagen’s versatile MQB (modular transverse matrix) vehicle platform to the U.S. market—a significant step in standardizing, simplifying, and improving the design and creation of products across the entire Volkswagen Group portfolio. The MQB architecture allows for a more cab-backward design, which gives the new Golf a more upscale appearance while retaining classic design cues from the Mk 1 and Mk 4 Golf models.
The new Golf is better equipped than its predecessor, no matter the trim level. The limited-availability entry Golf Launch Edition two-door with manual transmission starts at $17,995 (plus $820 destination and handling) and adds the following over the outgoing Golf 2.5L: a turbocharged and direct-injection four cylinder as the base engine, along with a standard 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Bluetooth® connectivity, a Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod® integration, and SiriusXM® Satellite Radio. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System (APCBS) is standard on all Golf models, while available new comfort and convenience features include the Fender® Premium Audio System and Climatronic® automatic air conditioning. Fans of Volkswagen’s TDI Clean Diesel engines will be thrilled that the price of the base TDI model has been reduced by around $3,000 compared with the previous-generation Golf TDI model.
The new Golf is wrapped in sheetmetal that is totally modern yet equally unmistakable as a Volkswagen Golf. The shape and design elements remain as defined as ever, with a distinctive C-pillar and roofline framing classic Golf side windows, but the striking new front end and steeply sloped hood leave no doubt this is an all-new model.
The new look is further accentuated by the sharper headlight clusters and horizontal graphic that runs through them, as well as by the narrower grille, which now leads to a strong character line that travels along the side and all the way back to the taillight clusters, only breaking for the wheelarches. Just above, another body line can be traced from the rear side window all the way back up to the headlights and front horizontal graphic. These subtle body lines help create a poised yet elegant appearance.
Dimensionally, the Golf has grown in all directions but up. Overall length has increased by 2.1 inches, while width has gained 0.5 inches. Overall height has decreased, however, by 1.1 inches. Thanks to the MQB architecture, which dictates a fixed relationship between the front-wheel centerline and the pedalbox, the front wheels now sit 1.7 inches further forward, giving a premium “cab backward” aesthetic. Along with the new design graphics and shape, these updated proportions help the Golf achieve a lower visual center of gravity and a more dynamic stance. Moreover, the new design helps to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics with a reduction in the coefficient of drag from 0.32 to 0.29.
The entry Golf Launch Edition is equipped with 15-inch steel wheels with attractive covers, wrapped in 195/65 all-season tires, while the Golf S steps up to 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The Golf S TDI Clean Diesel stands on larger 16-inch aluminum-alloy rims shod with 205/55 R16 tires. Both TSI and TDI lines are upgraded to 17-inch wheels in the SE trim and to 18-inch for the SEL. A sunroof is standard equipment on all trim levels except the entry Launch Edition, Golf S, and Golf TDI S.
In addition to the foglights that are fitted on the SE and SEL models, a stand-alone Lighting Package is also available for $995 on the Golf S with Sunroof, SE, and SEL and on the Golf TDI SE and SEL models: it consists of Bi-Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, as well as Volkswagen’s Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS). This system swivels the main headlight beams by up to 15 percent as the steering wheel is turned to help illuminate bends in the road more effectively at speeds of more than 6 mph. Ambient interior lighting with LED reading lights is standard on the SEL trim and included in the Lighting Package on S with Sunroof and SE trims. Automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers are now available on SE models and above, along with automatic headlights.
The all-new Golf takes another step further upscale with its interior. In all regards, it’s a larger, more mature cabin with an emphasis on comfort and a substantial features list. Despite the Golf’s lower overall height, interior space has been increased all around, with 93.5 cubic feet of interior room compared with 92.9 for the previous Golf.
Shoulder space has been increased by 1.2 inches in the front and 1.1 inches in the back, while elbow room has a slightly more modest increase of 0.9 inches and 0.8 inches respectively. The cargo capacity in the trunk is improved by approximately eight percent compared with the previous model, to 16.5 cubic feet up to the parcel shelf and 22.8 cu ft to the roof. That’s more luggage room than even the largest mid-size sedan.
The load area is now easier to access, thanks to a load sill that is 0.7 inches lower and an opening that is 1.9 inches wider. The versatility of the load space has been enhanced by a trunk floor that can be moved up or down by 3.9 inches, while the 60:40 split backrest can be folded to give an almost flat cargo area that easily accommodates a full-size bicycle. With the rear seats folded, the Golf now has 52.7 cu ft of cargo capacity, fully 15 percent larger than before.
In addition to the added space, many of the driver controls have been repositioned to help optimize ergonomics and usability. The seat position is now 0.8 inches further back, while the height of the shifter and the spacing between the pedals have all been fine-tuned as well. This new driver-centric design focus is evident from the center stack, which is now angled towards the driver—a trait frequently seen in premium luxury or performance vehicles. White backlighting for the controls further highlights this upscale ambience, as well as the use of premium materials throughout, such as soft-touch plastics and trim pieces available in chrome, aluminum, and piano-black finishes.
An equal amount of attention has been paid to maximizing comfort and convenience. The two-door Golf Launch Edition has standard power windows, door locks, and exterior mirrors, along with air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, and a Media Device Interface with iPod integration.
The Golf TSI S and TDI S models up the luxury quotient with standard V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces, cruise control, VW Car-Net® connected services, leather-wrapped handbrake, shifter knob, and multifunction steering wheel that now incorporates the buttons for the cruise control, and partial power seats on the four-door models.
One of the most significant advances in the new Golf comes in the form of its new touchscreen infotainment system, standard on all models. At 5.8-inches in size, the display utilizes a capacitive touch sensor (as in smartphone and tablet technology) rather than the more common resistive touchscreens that require pressure, enabling gesture controls like swiping and even pinch-zooming.
This infotainment module offers an available SD card-based navigation program complete with 3D rendering, as well as the expected audio functions (including standard SiriusXM Satellite Radio compatibility) and car analytics and settings. This display also has a proximity sensor function, which senses when a hand is nearby and automatically switches its display to a more finger-friendly layout. The Media Device Interface with iPod and iPhone® connectivity is now housed in the center stack, while more traditional media such as CDs and SD cards can be inserted into slots in the large glovebox.
A panoramic tilt and slide sunroof becomes available at the Golf S with Sunroof and Golf TDI SE trim levels. Regardless of whether the TSI or the TDI engine is selected, all SE trim models are equipped with heatable front seats, a rearview camera, and the highly acclaimed Fender Premium Audio System. The top-of-the-line SEL variants come loaded with the aforementioned navigation system, Climatronic automatic dual-zone climate control, Keyless access with push-button start, ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights, piano-black interior trim, and front comfort sport seats that include a 12-way power driver’s seat.
Engines and Transmissions
The Golf now features compact turbocharged and direct-injection engines throughout the entire model range. In the case of the standard Golf, the new 1.8-liter four-cylinder EA888 TSI gasoline engine sees duty under the hood, while the TDI has an all-new 2.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel engine dubbed EA288. With this latest engine, Volkswagen aims to further reinforce the benefits of diesel—namely torque, fuel efficiency, and longevity—to the U.S. market.
The 1.8-liter TSI unit in the Golf is a member of the latest EA888 engine family and replaces the 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine of the previous-generation model. The EA888 engine line is a state-of-the-art design that uses intelligent downsizing to deliver comparable power and torque to the outgoing engine. It also improves efficiency to such an extent that the new Golf TSI posts an EPA estimated highway fuel economy gain of 6 mpg over the previous 2.5-liter-engined model.
The Golf’s turbocharged 1.8-liter EA888 engine produces 170 horsepower at 4,500 rpm, the same maximum output as the engine it replaces, but its increased torque peak of 200 pound-feet occurs much lower in the power band. Because the broad swathe of torque starts at 1,600 rpm—2,650 rpm lower than in the previous engine—and lasts until 4,400 rpm, the engine offers better acceleration as well as helping to deliver better fuel economy and lower emissions than before.
Augmenting the EA888’s 16-valve, dual-overhead-camshaft layout is variable cam phasing on the intake side. The single-scroll IHI turbocharger feeds intercooled air through the aluminum-alloy crossflow head down into the cylinders, where it meets fuel delivered by a high-pressure direct-injection system.
At just 290 lbs, the new engine is also lighter than the five-cylinder unit, thanks to a combination of compact design, streamlined componentry, and a focus on lightweight materials. The cast-iron engine block uses an incredibly thin casting with a wall thickness of just 0.12 inches to reduce its weight to 72 pounds, while a lightweight polymer oilpan and aluminum-alloy screws and fasteners also trim mass. Other changes that help the engine shed pounds include a reduction from eight to four crankshaft counterweights and the use of smaller diameter main bearings.
The engine’s compactness is illustrated by the way in which the exhaust headers have been integrated directly into the cylinder head. This not only helps improve the system coolant operation (aiding in rapid warm-up and improving efficiency) but also allows greater thermal management of the exhaust stream. This, along with a turbocharger that can withstand extremely high temperatures, means the forced-induction system doesn’t require complex fuel enrichments under high load, helping improve both efficiency and longevity.
All-new diesel engine: The TDI Clean Diesel model is powered by the EA288 turbodiesel engine, Volkswagen’s all-new diesel engine family. The EA288 engine family is designated the modular diesel matrix, or MDB, and will form the basis for all future U.S.-market Volkswagen diesel products. Just like the MQB platform, the concept is best understood by visualizing the MDB engine as a grouping of standardized modules available across the Volkswagen Group.
The EA288 in the Golf is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injection diesel engine, a thorough update from the powerplant in the previous Golf. Despite the similarity in basic specifications, the only aspect that carries over from the previous EA189 unit is the cylinder bore spacing. The new engine produces 150 horsepower—10 more than before—at 3,500 rpm, as well as 236 lb-ft of torque at 1,750 rpm. This high torque output is another compelling argument for diesel engines, along with their fuel efficiency. The new engine, when combined with the manual transmission, now gets an EPA estimated rating of 31 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway, an improvement of 1 mpg in the city and 3 mpg on the highway over the previous EPA numbers.
The compact EA288 engine has the intercooler for its turbocharger system integrated directly into the intake manifold, which serves a two-fold purpose of increasing throttle response and performance as well as helping lower emissions. The engine block is cast iron, with a forged steel crankshaft that runs in five main bearings and has four counterweights. In order to counteract engine vibration and maintain smooth operation, the EA288’s crankshaft is connected to two gear-driven counter-rotating balancer shafts that spin at twice engine speed. Friction has been reduced by about 15 percent in the engine, thanks to the use of roller bearings for the drivetrain side camshaft, increased piston-to-wall clearance, and lower piston-ring tension, among other measures.
The aluminum-alloy crossflow cylinder head has a number of unique features. First, the camshafts are integrated into a separate housing by a thermal joining process, ensuring a very rigid camshaft bearing while keeping the weight low. Second, each overhead camshaft operates one intake valve and one exhaust valve per cylinder (as opposed to one camshaft for intake valves only and one for exhaust), allowing for greater air delivery and swirl. The engine features variable cam phasing on the intake and exhaust valves.
Like its gasoline-powered brethren, the EA288 Clean Diesel TDI engine places strong emphasis on thermal management, which is evident in the cylinder head’s two-section coolant jacket, as well as a three-part cooling circuit and switchable coolant pump. Compared to the previous engine, emissions are reduced by up to 40 percent, helped by siting the exhaust after-treatment module close to the engine and by the use of a low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation system.
The 1.8-liter TSI engine is mated to either a traditional five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic transmission that is optional on the S and S with Sunroof models and is standard on the SE and SEL. The EA288 TDI Clean Diesel sends its power to the wheels through either a six-speed manual gearbox or a DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission, both available regardless of trim level.
Chassis and Suspension
As the first U.S.-market vehicle built on Volkswagen’s new MQB modular platform, the A7 Golf features an all-new body-in-white. The unitary construction chassis has two solid-mounted subframes with bolt-on front fenders, and utilizes new technologies such as the laser clamp welder, which produces “wobble seam” welds in a wave pattern to maximize strength in a limited space, offering up to four times the strength of a traditional spot weld.
The all-new Golf models’ stamped steel body and chassis now boasts 28-percent of its parts in high-strength, hot-formed steel, as opposed to six percent in the previous Golf. This technology—along with the use of newly developed ultra-high-strength steels that weren’t available during the last generation’s development and now comprise nine percent of the new Golf’s bodyshell—allow much of the chassis and body to be constructed from thinner and lighter parts without any loss in strength. Thanks to the use of selective thickness for parts, a single component can be tailor-rolled to have as many as 11 zones of varying thicknesses. The upshot is a body-in-white that weighs 51 pounds less than the previous car’s while providing a structure that is 10 percent more torsionally rigid. Overall, the new Golf is up to 79 pounds lighter than the previous-generation car, despite its larger size and additional equipment.
The all-new Golf features a strut-type front suspension. At the back, the TSI models have a multilink arrangement with coil springs, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar. The TDI Clean Diesel models use a compact torsion beam rear suspension with coil springs and telescopic dampers. The rack-and-pinion steering features electric power assist and features a 13.6 to one ratio that allows for 2.76 turns from lock to lock.
All 2015 Golf models are equipped with the XDS Cross Differential System—a feature previously only seen on the performance-oriented GTI model. This technology acts somewhat like an electronic substitute for a traditional mechanical limited-slip differential, working by actively monitoring data from each wheel sensor. If the suspension becomes unloaded, the system automatically applies braking to the driven inside wheel as needed to reduce understeer (the tendency for the front wheels to run wide). This not only helps the Golf’s stability, but also improves handling and cornering performance.
To help keep occupants safe, the new Golf provides a combination of both passive and active safety systems. The Golf has been engineered to meet or exceed all current crash regulations and features no fewer than six airbags as standard, along with a number of electronic and mechanical safety systems.
The seventh-generation Golf’s braking system involves substantial 11.3-inch vented front discs and 10.7-inch solid rear discs (10.0 inches for the TDI) with standard three-channel ABS with electronic brake pressure distribution. All Golf models are equipped with standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The SE and SEL models are also available with the Driver Assistance Package that adds a Forward Collision Warning and front and rear Park Distance Control systems.
A new standard driver assistance feature on the 2015 Golf models is Volkswagen’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking system. This builds on the premise that a collision is rarely a single, instantaneous action, but rather a series of events that follow the initial impact—the most significant of which can cause additional collisions. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking system addresses this by applying the brakes when a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors, thus helping reduce residual kinetic energy and, in turn, the chance of additional damage.
Limited Warranty and Scheduled Maintenance
The 2015 Golf TSI and Golf TDI models are offered with Volkswagen’s standard five-year/60,000-mile powertrain limited warranty and three-year/36,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty. In addition, a three-year/36,000-mile roadside assistance program is standard, as is the one-year/10,000-mile Carefree Maintenance® Program that covers all scheduled maintenance during this period, at no extra charge.
With a starting price of $17,995 (plus $820 destination and delivery), the limited availability two-door-only Golf Launch Edition brings a high level of standard equipment to the compact hatchback class.
This Golf model features a standard turbocharged and direct-inject engine; Bluetooth® connectivity; a touchscreen infotainment system; Sirius XM® Satellite Radio; a Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod® integration; cloth seats with manual lumbar adjustment; power windows; power door locks; and air conditioning.
The Golf S begins at $19,295 for the two-door model with five-speed manual transmission. An automatic transmission is available for an additional $1,100. The four-door automatic starts at $20,995. This model adds aluminum-alloy wheels; VW Car-Net® connected services; V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces; leather-wrapped handbrake, shifter knob, and multifunction steering wheel; and cruise control. Four-door models add partial power seats.
S with Sunroof
The Golf S with Sunroof, which is only available as a four-door model, starts at $21,295 with the manual transmission and is available with the six-speed automatic for $22,395. It adds partial power front seats and a power tilt and slide panoramic sunroof to the S model’s extensive list of standard equipment. A Lighting Package becomes available at this trim level: for $995 it adds Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights, and the Adaptive Front-lighting System. The $695 Driver Assistance Package adds a Forward Collision Warning system and front and rear Park Distance Control.
Pricing for the midrange Golf SE begins at $23,795 with the five-speed manual and $24,895 with the automatic. The SE includes all the features of the S and adds: 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; a cold weather package consisting of heatable front seats and heated front washer nozzles; rain-sensing automatic windshield wipers; automatic headlights; front foglights, a rearview camera; and the exclusive Fender Premium Audio System.
Building on the specifications and layout of the SE, the range-topping SEL starts at $27,395. The top Golf trim includes 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and adds Volkswagen’s latest-generation navigation system; Climatronic automatic air conditioning; Keyless access with push-button start; sport comfort seats with a 12-way power driver’s seat; and ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights.
GOLF TDI CLEAN DIESEL
The line of diesel-powered Golf models largely mirrors its gasoline siblings in terms of features and packages. The base model is the TDI S, which starts at $22,345. Available only as a four-door model, the TDI S offers a six-speed manual gearbox and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels as standard, with a dual-clutch DSG automatic available for an additional $1,100.
The TDI SE is priced at $25,895 with the manual transmissions and $26,995 with the automatic. It adds a sunroof and the same list of equipment and optional packages as its gasoline-powered counterpart, including the Fender Premium Audio System and the cold weather package.
Like the TDI SE, the TDI SEL is available with either six-speed manual or DSG transmissions. Pricing starts at $28,395, with the optional DSG adding $1,100. The standard equipment mirrors the Golf SEL, adding features such as a navigation system, Climatronic automatic air conditioning, and Keyless access with push-button start.
2015 VW GOLF SPORTWAGEN TDI MSRP $24,595.00