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2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI First Test

Scott Burgess
Nov 5, 2014
Photographers: Motor Trend Staff
While Volkswagen has created a whole stable of Golfs for the 2015 model year, the Golf TDI might have a leg up on all of the other variants. It has a reputation and dedicated group of followers.
Maybe it shouldn't.
Compared to the gas and electric Golfs, the diesel-powered Golf TDI is slower and less agile. The TDI has the second-slowest 0-60 time, at 9.0 seconds. Its 17.0-second quarter-mile time with a speed of 83.6 mph was even slower than the electric Golf's 16.9 seconds. It has the slowest figure-eight time of 28.3 seconds, more than 2 seconds slower than the performance-oriented and comparably priced Golf GTI.
The Volkswagen Golf is a 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year contender - find out soon whether it has what it takes to win.
Photo 2/25   |   2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI Front Three Quarter In Motion 02
Photo 6/25   |   2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI Rear Three Quarter In Motion
Like all the other Golfs, the diesel version inherits a body that has been stretched 2.1 inches, widened .2 inch, and lowered an inch. The wheelbase increases by 2.3 inches, which shortens overhangs and improves the car's proportions. It also helps maximize interior space for this four-door hatch. The changes helped add a half-inch of knee room in the second row and another cubic foot in the trunk. The battle of compacts is certainly a war of inches.
Additionally, the TDI shares its good looks with the other new Golfs. It's an evolutionary refinement for sure. So much of the Golf, built on Volkswagen's super versatile MQB platform, has improved with little touches. The gaps are tighter, the pieces stronger, and the all of the cars have gone on a diet, with some models shedding more than 200 pounds. (The TDI's iron block means it doesn't lose as much weight as its gas-powered counterparts, which switched to aluminum.)
Photo 7/25   |   2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI Front Three Quarter Turn
The 3,184-pound TDI -- which is heavier than the TSI and GTI models -- provides a very smooth and surprisingly quiet ride. Suspension refinements and a better drag coefficient help cut out road and wind noise. The electric power steering provides solid feedback with a nice weight and snap back to center. At high speeds, this compact car is stable and quiet.
The 2.0L turbocharged diesel engine generates 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. Mated to either a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic, the diesel engine provides nice, smooth ride. The torque pull makes the TDI feel quicker and more nimble than it really is. Gas models have faster times and proved quicker on Motor Trend's figure eight.
But for diesel enthusiasts, there's only one number that really matters: 45 mpg. That's the EPA highway mileage estimate of the Golf TDI. It will also get an impressive 30 mpg in the city. Most diesel owners will tell you those EPA figures are lowball estimates and they would expect even better performance. (My wife owned a Jetta TDI for eight years, and we often managed better than 50 mpg on long highway drives.)
Inside the Golf, drivers will find lots of standard features, including a 60/40 split second row, and a 5-inch color touchscreen on the center stack. The design is simple and complete with great ergonomics. Sitting in the driver's seat provides good visibility around the car and a commanding position.
There's an optional larger color touchscreen as well as a panorama sunroof. Other additions for the 2015 model year include keyless entry and remote start, adaptive cruise control, and even drowsiness detection. For a compact car, there's little more a person could want.
In the end, the Golf TDI defies any numbers that might attempt to define it. It's a comfortable, good-looking ride and future owners will love it even more every time they pass a gas station, which they will do often.
Photo 14/25   |   2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI Front End In Motion
Below, we've provided test numbers on the 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI with a six-speed manual transmission, as well as data on a 2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI with a six-speed automatic.

  2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI 2015 Volkswagen Golf TSI
BASE PRICE $22,815 $21,515
PRICE AS TESTED $27,010 $28,810
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door hatchback
ENGINE 2.0L/150-hp/236-lb-ft turbodiesel DOHC 16-valve I-4 1.8L/170-hp/200-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 6-speed manual 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3184 lb (61/39%) 3122 lb (60/40%)
WHEELBASE 103.8 in 103.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 167.5 x 70.8 x 57.2 in 167.5 x 70.8 x 57.2 in
0-60 MPH 9.0 sec 7.8 sec
QUARTER MILE 17.0 sec @ 83.6 mph 15.9 sec @ 88.3 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 117 ft 117 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.80 g (avg) 0.86 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.3 sec @ 0.59 g (avg) 27.2 sec @ 0.65 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 30/45/36 mpg 25/36/29 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 126/84 kW-hrs/100 miles 135/94 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.63 lb/mile 0.67 lb/mile

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