2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI
What's new for 2015? The Volkswagen Golf GTI has been completely redesigned for 2015.

Few cars can be both fun and practical, but the Volkswagen Golf GTI has done it for more than a quarter of a century. Combining the sensible nature of the Golf hatchback with various performance enhancements, the GTI is the iconic hot hatch for the everyman. Some GTIs have fared better than others through the years, but we're pretty sure the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI will rank as one of the best yet.

This year's full redesign is one reason why. Visually, the changes are subtle, with reshaped headlights and taillights as well as sharper creases on the body's side. The new GTI is just a bit longer and wider than the outgoing one, but a new sloping hood design gives it a shorter, more dynamic look. Inside the differences are also slight. Rear seat and cargo space increase slightly, and that's a good thing. The GTI's interior was already one of the better ones in terms of design and quality.

More substantial changes lie underneath the steel skin. VW has introduced an all-new body structure with revised suspension tuning to give the GTI more athletic handling this time around. Hit the gas and the new GTI moves faster, too. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine now generates 210 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, gains of 10 hp and 51 lb-ft compared to the outgoing model. An optional package adds 10 more hp along with larger front and rear brakes and an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip front differential -- a GTI first -- that can help the hatch power out of turns more quickly. An optional adaptive suspension is another new addition.

Exterior Highlights
Two or four-door hatchback available in base GTI S, GTI SE and GTI Autobahn trim levels

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI is a two- or four-door hatchback offered in three trim levels. Standard features for the base GTI S two-door include 18-inch alloy wheels, LED foglights, a rear spoiler, heated mirrors, a sport-tuned suspension, cruise control, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, rear 60/40-split folding rear seats with a center pass-through, a 5.8-inch touchscreen audio interface, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, satellite radio, iPod integration and VW Car-Net telematics. Four-door versions of the GTI S also receive power reclining front seats.

Stepping up to the GTI SE trim adds a sunroof, automatic headlights and wipers, keyless ignition and entry, a rearview camera, leather upholstery and a Fender premium audio system. The range-topping GTI Autobahn trim tops off the features list with a navigation system, a 10-way power driver seat and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The optional Driver Assistance package adds front and rear parking sensors and a forward collision warning system. The Lighting package gets you bi-xenon headlights, LED running lights and cornering lights. You can also select 18-inch wheels with summer tires or the Performance package (late availability) that includes an electronically controlled mechanical limited-slip front differential, larger front and rear brakes and an additional 10 hp. An adaptive damping suspension system is also available but only in conjunction with the Performance package.

Comfortable and sporty interior cabin, 5.8-inch touchscreen, intuituve buttons and switches, added leg and shoulder room, rear seats fold flat

The 2015 Volkswagen GTI's interior features well-grained materials that are soft to the touch and a cabin design that is, while somewhat austere, comfortable and even sporty, thanks to bold red stitching. Buttons and switches are placed close to the driver and offer intuitive, simple control. The 5.8-inch touchscreen works well and is easily read at a glance.

Front seats provide ample support and comfort, even during long-distance driving stints, and not at the sacrifice of rear seat passengers. The new GTI's added leg- and shoulder room make the small hatch feel big, although the low-mounted rear seat cushions are best suited to smaller passengers. Up to 22.8 cubic feet of cargo can be accommodated behind the rear seats, while folding the seats flat provides a class-leading 52.7 cubic feet of space.

Standard safety features for the 2015 VW Golf GTI include antilock disc brakes, automatic hill-hold, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and a driver knee airbag. A post-crash braking system is also standard and automatically applies the brakes after an impact to reduce the likelihood of a secondary crash. VW's Car-Net emergency telematics is standard with features that include automatic crash notification, roadside assistance, remote vehicle access, stolen vehicle location and geo-fencing (which allows parents to set boundaries for teenage drivers). A forward collision warning system and front and rear parking sensors are optional.

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