I should start out by saying I’m a numbers guy. 350. 396. 427. 454. 502. That’s right. Cubic inches. Bigger is better, right? After driving the 2015 VW Golf GTI S, propelled by its 2.0L TSI turbocharged 210 hp in-line 4-cylinder engine, matted to a six-speed manual transmission, I was starting to rethink my logic. In sport mode, this little hatchback is quick, nimble and fun to drive. In an age where manual shift cars are getting pretty hard to find, I truly enjoyed running through the gears on this one on my way to and from the grocery store.
As usual, VW got the styling and performance right on this one. While the styling may be a bit understated for some in this era of massive hood scoops and rear wings, the four-door hatch back model I drove could easily be one of the best looking cars in the sub $30,000 price range. The large lower black front grill with honeycomb mesh with sport side skirts understates the aggressiveness that hides under its (scoopless) hood. The 18 inch Austin alloy wheels packaged with the 225/40 all season performance tires give this little hatchback an urban racer look. The interior styling is classic VW as well. From the golf ball shifter knob, to the Clark Plaid cloth sport seats, to the flat bottom steering wheel. My only criticisms of the interior, and they are pretty minor, are 1) the second couple holder in the center console gets blocked by the arm rest when down and with the arm rest up the car is pretty awkward to drive, and 2) there is only one power port in the front; I would like to see multiple usb ports in the front and the rear of the cabin.
Suburban Grocery Getter or Urban Street Machine
The model I drove was the base four-door model, “S” trim package, priced at $25,815 which lacked just about every creature comfort I’ve come to expect in today’s cars, even ones at this price point. This base model car lacked push button start, automatic climate control, fully electric adjusted seats, nav, back up camera, leather seats, moon roof, etc. That’s the bad news. The good news is some of this can be remedied by choosing the SE trim package and coughing up another $4,000 or so (sun roof, push-button start, leather seating, rearview camera, among others). The rest of it is easily remedied by choosing the Autobahn trim package which adds most of the aforementioned missing features (sun roof, push-button start, leather seating, rearview camera, dual zone automatic climate control, Nav, 12 way power adjusted drivers seat), but sets you back an additional $5,000 over that of the base “S” trim package price. Still at under $31,000 with the (almost) fully optioned car (you can add the performance package which kicks up the horse power by 10 and upgrades the differential and the brakes for another $1,500), this is one fun to drive urban street machine, even when returning from the grocery store with that spacious hatchback filled with groceries.