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2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI - An Everyday Joy

Miles to Date: 21,750

Jake HolmeswriterPatrick M. Hoeyphotographer

After a sojourn on the West Coast and an epic cross-country drive, life in Michigan winter might have seemed a little dull for our Four Seasons GTI. Yet no matter what we throw at it, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI keeps making us smile.

For starters, the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 tires help the front-wheel-drive Volkswagen claw through snow and ice so well that we haven't missed our all-wheel-drive Subaru WRX. Couple that with cloth seats that heat up in an instant, and the GTI has proven itself a formidable winter chariot. With the car set to Sport mode, we're even able to coax mild slides out of the car when dashing through snow, thanks no doubt in part to the electronically controlled limited-slip differential's ability to divvy up power between the front tires.

"The Blizzak winter tires are champions, tracking faithfully through a fair bit of snow and ice," agreed daily news editor Joseph Capparella.

Of course, with the effects of El Nino giving us a relatively mild winter here in Michigan, we have at times been frustrated by the compromises the winter rubber's squishy treads afford on dry pavement: "Unfortunately the steering is a little squishy on these winter tires," said daily news editor Eric Weiner, conceding that, "I have not for a moment lost traction on cold, wet roads so far this season."

That's not for lack of trying to lose traction, as everyone who slips into the GTI's plaid seats returns with tales of back-road heroics. "I just love the sound of this turbocharged engine at high revs, plus how planted the chassis feels in corners," reported Weiner.

"The GTI may be down on power and torque compared to rivals like the Ford Focus ST, but you wouldn't know it behind the wheel," agreed daily news editor Conner Golden. "The car pulls aggressively up to the top of the rev range."

And, of course, not a single editor has tired of the Golf GTI's heritage cues: The dimpled golf-ball-like shift knob and those Clark plaid cloth seats.

"I took a girl on a date in the GTI, and she really liked the plaid seats," reports staff photographer Patrick Hoey. "But maybe the date would have gone better if I hadn't then told her the whole history of plaid seats."

Though the car itself has been mostly trouble-free, taking our 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI in for its 20,000-mile service gave us a few headaches. At first, the dealer insisted on a $440 service plan that included a fuel system cleaning and brake-fluid flush. When we balked, we eventually got our oil change and courtesy inspection for $270. That's still a heady amount for what seems like a simple service, though it's worth noting that Volkswagen provides free oil changes within the first 12 months or 10,000 miles of ownership.

We also sustained a rock chip on the highway. Hoping to avoid shelling out for an entire new windshield, we spent $118.37 to have a local Safelite technician fill the chip in our office parking lot. So far, the repair has held even in the biting subzero chill.

As our Four Seasons 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI enters its very last month in our fleet, we can't help but be disappointed. Nearly every editor who has driven the hot hatch says they'll lament the departure of the fast, stylish, do-anything hatchback.

Overview

  • Body style 4-door hatchback
  • Accommodation 4-passenger
  • Construction Steel unibody
  • Base price (with dest.) $27,700
  • As tested $28,895

Powertrain

  • Engine 16-valve DOHC turbocharged I-4
  • Displacement 2.0 liters (91 cu in)
  • Power 220 hp @ 4500 rpm
  • Torque 258 lb-ft @ 1500 rpm
  • Transmission 6-speed manual
  • Drive Front-wheel
  • EPA Fuel Economy 19/28 mpg city/highway

Chassis

  • Steering Electrically assisted
  • Lock-to-lock 2.1 turns
  • Turning circle 35.8 ft
  • Suspension, Front Strut-type, coil springs
  • Suspension, Rear Multilink, coil springs
  • Brakes F/R Vented discs
  • Wheels 18-inch aluminum
  • Tires Bridgestone Potenza S001
  • Tire size 225/40R-18

Measurements

Equipment

  • standard equipment

Options

  • options for this vehicle: