Recently, I had the opportunity to test drive the MK7 2015 Volkswagen GTI. Excited about getting my hands on the GTI, I began sharing across my Twitter and Instagram feeds. Before I had even the opportunity to jump into the car, I got inundated with questions from everyone!  The review everyone was waiting for was finally here. The all new 2015 Volkswagen GTI.

The Volkswagen GTI is not only a hot hatch, but it is also the grandfather that started the trend many years ago.  Over the years, Volkswagen has had to step up there game, with competition becoming more fierce everyday. The GTI can easily be compared to other hot hatches like the Ford Focus ST, the Mazda Speed 3, and even to it’s own cousin the Audi A3, and it’s bigger brother the Golf R.

The GTI has had a very passionate set of fans, with a very large enthusiastic community, that I actually am proud to be a part of. I will not deny the fact that I own a  2008 Volkswagen GTI (MKV), but I also own the older brother the MK6 Golf R.  This means the all new 2015 Volkswagen GTI has some pretty high standards to meet. Does the new model evoke passion from the community? Is it still a hot hatch that I can use everyday with my family? Most importably does it out a smile on my face when I drive it?

 

Exterior Looks

The all new Volkswagen GTI has a new look and all new chassis. Let’s begin with the chassis, known as the MQB platform, it has been designed to not only be lighter but to be far more rigid. This provides the driver much more feed back than previous models-more on that in later on. The outside design has been revamped to give more updated look. The beloved red accent strip now goes all the way thorough the headlamp housing. Many people shared with me across social media don’t seem to love this new concept. I will agree it’s different, but not a deal breaker for me, as I do enjoy the new Bi-Xenon headlights with Adaptive Front-light System, and their shape.

The GTI feels very upscale, and almost has an Audi-like fit and finish. This new GTI feels like it could give it’s more expensive brethren a run for their money.  The front slats in the grill remind me of the Golf R and Audi TTRS to some degree. The all new body line across the side of the body, along with the lowered roof line give it a more aggressive stance.

 

Around the back, you will find an all new piano black spoiler support, for better aerodynamics. There are new tail lights, and rear camera under the Volkswagen emblem. The rear tail lights have been a little controversial within the community. The stock ones look great, however the upgraded LED ones have had mixed reception from the community.  I had received many comments that the LED tails look more like they were designed by  a Japanese manufacture  as opposed to a German manufacture.

 

Interior Finish

The interior is very typical Volkswagen quality. Fantastic to look at and to live in on an everyday basis. The doors are accented by LED lighting and LED lit GTI scuff plates,  which reminded me of when I first saw these featured on the Mercedes S class.  A glance upwards and you will see a new panoramic sunroof, which allows for much more light into the car. I personally love sunroofs, and more light is always better.  Moving on to the driver’s seat, It was nice to see the flat bottom steering wheel has remained with some minor tweaks. Volkswagen has also finally updated the DSG paddles to something bigger, as the previous ones were really way to tiny.  Some of the soft touch plastic has been swapped out for more piano black finish. Although, I was happy to see a proper hand brake handle in the car, as opposed to those new dreaded electronic push button parking brakes.  However, I was disappointed to see that the handle is now a piano finish, what happened to leather? I’m not sure if this was a design choice or cost cutting choice. Either way, I’m not a fan.

The new GTI also comes equipped with a all new 5.8” touch screen with back up camera and proximate sensors. Gone is the old slower RNS510, which was great in it’s day but it was aging badly. This new display is much faster and better equipped. The back up camera is a great feature, although I feel like it’s not needed. I mean if you can’t back up a Golf should you really be driving ?

 

Power

Under the hood there is all new updated 2.0L turbo TSI engine powering the GTI. The horse power has had a slight bump at 210, but the torque is where the real story is at 258 lbs. Critics have cited that lack of significant horse power gain means Volkswagen could be left behind by it’s competitors. However, any good driver can tell you torque is where the fun is. I can assure there are mounds of torque being driven to those front wheels. Providing you with control over all that torque is the 6 speed DSG with paddle shifters. The DSG has long been one of my favourite auto transmissions. It’s incredibly fast and responsive in both manual and S modes. Personally, I’m a little old fashioned and still prefer a 6 speed manual. The DSG is very capable of handling day to day cruising or spirited driving on a beautiful piece of road.

 

Driving Impressions

What’s it like to drive? Well, to find out I spend many hours cruising around the GTA and up north. My initial impressions was this new GTI is tight. I mean incredibly tight. It’s lighter which made it feel more nimble, and the new steering lock made the GTI feel more like drivers car than ever before. However, I kept coming back to that word tight. The GTI feels so rigid now and more tightly put together. This is largely due to the new MQB platform. Volkswagen’s new platform feels like such massive upgrade on the chassis, it makes my 2008 GTI feel like a dinosaur. Don’t get me wrong, I love my GTI but this new 2015 model is just so composed, especially in the twisty roads it really just comes alive.

After spending some time with the thew GTI, I was convinced Volkswagen has improved upon the hot hatch and made it wonderful driver’s car. However, is this a car the community would embrace, especially with it’s new designs? To find out out I decided to take the GTI out to a few events. At several of the meets many drivers were definitely curious. The new GTI struck a cord with with community. Many were curious, and many wanted to trade up now.  A few drivers were so excited they wanted to grab some pictures with their cars. I took this opportunity to grab a few pictures with GTI’s from 2003 to the current generation. For those of you keeping track that MK4 – MK7 GTI.

The Volkswagen GTI has come a long way and this new model is not exception. It sits with a better stance, and the chassis has been greatly improved. Now combine all that with the mounds of torque mated to the DSG, and you quickly realize it’s the perfect car for spirited driving or carrying the kids to school. This GTI came fully equipped with a ton of features, and priced as tested $36,085 not including freight and tax.

Features

  • 18″ Austin alloy wheels with all-season tires
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seats with centre armrest and pass-through
  • 8-way adjustable top sport seats with power recline
  • Ambient Interior lighting
  • Automatic headlights
  • Automatic post-collision braking
  • Auto-dimming rear view mirror
  • Bi-Xenon headlights with Adaptive Front-light System (AFS) including red accent strip
  • Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity with voice activation
  • Climatronic dual-zone electronic climate control
  • Colour multifunction trip computer and indicator
  • Composition Media radio – 5.8″ touchscreen with proximity sensor, CD Player, 8 speakers
  • Cruise control
  • DSG paddle shifter (with automatic transmission)
  • Direct steering
  • Diversity antenna
  • Driver & front passenger front & side airbags and front & rear Side Curtain Protection
  • Driver profile selection
  • Electronic Stability Control + Sport Mode (ESC)
  • Fender Premium Audio System – 8 speakers plus subwoofer
  • Front LED fog lights
  • Heatable front seats and washer nozzles
  • Illuminated “GTI”scuff plates
  • KESSY keyless access with push-button start
  • LED signature daytime running lights
  • Leather-wrapped multifunction “GTI” sport steering wheel
  • Light Assist (Automatic high beam control)
  • MDI – Media Device Interface with iPod connectivity
  • Panaorama tilt and slide power sunroof
  • Power adjustable and heatable exterior mirrors with LED turn signals
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Rear view camera
  • Rear spoiler
  • Red brake callipers
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio
  • Sport suspension
  • Variable cargo load floor

Leather Package Includes:

  • Top sport seats in Vienna Leather with red accents
  • 12-way power driver seat

Technology Package Includes:

  • Discover Media navigation system – 5.8″ touchscreen with proximity sensor,
  • CD player and satellite navigation
  • Forward collision warning system

The milage was pretty close to Volkswagen’s numbers of 9.4 city and 6.9 highway. I was able to average about 10 L combined city, highway and spirited driving. Those numbers are really good for a car this size with all that torque.

 

Final Thoughts

The 2015 Volkswagen GTI has a slew of new gadgets and more features, but when you come right down to it, is it still the hot hatch I’ve grown to love.  The answer is a resounding yes. The new GTI feels like a great evolution and the new MQB platform is simply outstanding. Maybe with a few tweaks this GTI could even take on my Golf R.  The car is not perfect though, it does have some minor personal quips.  I’m not a fan of the piano black hand brake handle, and I do not like having to open the driver’s door just to pop the hood. In the end, every car has something I wish it did or did not have. Would I like more power ? Yes, of course! Is it usable in a front wheel drive car? Not really… Unless Volkswagen Canada brings us the performance pack with it’s limited slip differentials. However, as the car sits tested, the 2015 GTI is definitely one of the best hot hatches on the market today.  Just make mine a 6 speed manual.  Thank You.

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