Road Tested: 2015 VW Golf TDI


LOS ANGELES, June 30, 2015 — The 2015 VW Golf TDI practically corners the compact car market with a lower price, comfortable roomy interior, ever more sporty exterior, advanced safety technology and a faster, more nimble, more fuel efficient turbocharged “clean diesel” engine for this multiple-award-winning hatchback. If you are considering going diesel, this is the car to road test.

2015 VW Golf TDI Rear View

Volkswagen is the global leader in selling diesel cars to the masses (more than one million since 1977) and its all-new “clean diesel” 2015 Golf TDI lineup is a winner with multiple top auto awards and even a lower price than the previous model. This handsome four-door, five passenger cozy compact hatch with a zippy direct injection 2.0-liter “turbodiesel” powertrain (45 mpg hwy) and surprisingly large cargo space has very few drawbacks except when diesel fuel is harder to find at gas stations.

The Golf has always been a distinctive-looking compact, but the newest shape is even more sporty and dynamic. With an increased overall length (by 2.1 inches) and width (just 0.5 inches), the 2015 Golf’s exterior now has a more narrow front end and more sculpted side lines. Inside, the quality-made interior of the 2015 Golf TDI and its three trim levels are similar to the gas-powered lineup, especially in their impressive menu of “near luxury” standard features such as a 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, power locks, power windows and media device interface.

Few four-door, five-seat compacts can truly compete with the Golf TDI’s price, looks, fuel economy and power although the Ford Focus, Kia Forte, Mazda3 and Subaru Impreza come close.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

Like its gas-powered brethren, VW’s “clean diesel” Golf TDI lineup is offered in three trims: S, SE and SEL. The base TDI S has a MRSP of $22,345. The only upgrade to the TDI S is to an automatic transmission. ($23,445) Standard equipment on the base TDI S includes: VW’s new EA888 2.0-liter “clean diesel” engine, power windows, power locks, 16-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, 60-40 split-fold rear seats, 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, media device interfact (MDI), Sirius XM satellite radio and automatic post-collision braking system.

For $25,895 (manual) or $26,996 (automatic), the 2015 VW Golf TDI SE adds a power tilt-and-slide sunroof as well a 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, premium Fender audio system, rear view camera, heated front seats, fog lights, automatic wipers and headlights.

The top-of-the-line TDI SEL comes with all the SE’s model features in a six-speed manual ($28,395) or automatic transmissions ( $29,495) plus 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, keyless access, push button start, automatic air conditioning, ambient LED interior reading lights, “sport comfort” seats with 12-way power driver’s seat and a navigation system.

Only two optional packages are offered. A “lighting package” ($995) including bi-xenon headlights with adaptive front lighting system, LED daytime running lights and ambient LED reading lights. The “driver assistance package” ($695) adds a front and rear “park distance control” and “forward collision warning.”

All prices exclude $820 destination charge.

Powertrains and Performance

VW’s new wonder engine, the EA888, replaces the Golf TDI’s previous power plant. The EA888 is turbocharged to deliver more power and torque as the previous engine, but with improved efficiency and better torque. This means the Golf TDI’s powertrain as well as the Golf’s lighter (yet larger) body gets better acceleration, better fuel economy and lower emissions.


The EA288 is VW’s first diesel engine technology to be built in the company’s “modular diesel matrix” (MQB). It produces 10 more horsepower than the previous model for up to 150 hp at 3,5000 rpm and 236 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,750 rpm.  When coupled with the Golf TDI’s six-speed manual transmission, the EA288 gets a whopping 30 mpg city and 45 mpg highway (31 mpg city and 43 mpg highway for the automatic transmission).


Volkswagen’s entire Golf lineup is full of advanced safety features including six air bags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control (ESC) and the aforementioned automatic post-collision braking system. The optional “driver assistant package” brings forward collision warning and front and rear parking distance control to the Golf SE and SEL.  VW’s entire 2015 Golf family was awarded the hard-to-get “top safety pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI is larger, has better ergonomic design, sports bigger cargo room and is full of quality-made materials such as soft-touch textured and shiny “piano black” plastics as well as burnished chrome and polished silver metal accents.

2015 VW Golf TDI Interior

The driver’s cockpit has been adjusted to optimize ergonomics with a more “driver-centric focus.” This fine tuning is perhaps one reason why the 2015 Golf won so many of the auto industry’s top awards. It seems VW was trying to compete with luxury vehicle interiors such as BMW when it repositioned equipment like the driver-angled center stack and added white back-lit.

Total comfort was also clearly important to the 2015 Golf interior redesign as the back- and thigh-supporting leatherette seats are cozy even for long distances along with the perfectly-placed shifter knob and multi-function steering wheel.

The 2015 Golf TDI S base model even comes standard with VW’s 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and SiriusXM satellite radio. The screen’s “capacitive touch sensor” is more like smartphones or tablets making it even easier to get information or change a channel while driving. The car’s “media device interface” is now handily designed into the center stack for better charging and in-car functionality.


Second-row seating is surprisingly roomy for heads, shoulders and legs, even for tall adults. The three-seat leatherette bench and well-designed back doors are a study in utilitarian design and comfort for active commuters or busy families.


Cargo capacity in the 2015 Golf has been enlarged to 16.5 cu. ft and the hatch’s sill redesigned to make loading easier.  With the 60/40 split-fold seats down, the Golf has 15 percent more trunk space than the previous model or 52.7 cu. ft., which in some cases is bigger than a comparably-priced midsized sedan.


Driving Impressions

Diesel engines still have a bad reputation as being noisy and sluggish at acceleration. This is just simply not so with the 2015 VW Golf TDI and its new EA288 or turbocharged 2.0-liter “clean diesel” engine. The easy shifting in the TDI’s six-speed manual transmission makes for a rather thrilling drive albeit not as rambunctious as Golf’s gas-powered lineup. Unfortunately, the stick version can produce a rather clunky result when accelerating into first gear from a dead stop. The automatic version was not tested.

Steering and handling – when combined with the turbocharged engine and better aerodynamics – are nimble and highly responsive especially on windy roads and fast-flying highway driving. The 2015 Golf’s tight suspension with little road feel over bumps and potholes adds to this compact’s almost luxury car performance. Overall, the 2015 Golf TDI brings a delightful ride to this modern diesel-powered compact hatch.


Priced reduced $3,000; sporty exterior; comfortable interior; fuel efficient; low emissions; spacious cargo room; offers loads of standard features.


Diesel fuel not always convenient.

What’s New for 2015

Refreshed seventh generation 2015 Golf TDI wins multiple awards for interior, exterior and performance.


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