![GTI's seventh generation arrives.](http://buyersguide.carsoup.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/2015-Volkswagen-GTI-Front.jpg)GTI’s seventh generation arrives.
Seven is a lucky number.
Since 1975, we have been graced with six generations of the Volkswagen Golf. In this country, we called two of those generations the Rabbit. No matter the name, this was VW’s best answer to continue the legacy of the original Beetle.
Now, for 2015, the seventh generation model arrives. We recently drove the new GTI with the Autobahn package to see if the Golf’s legacy has advanced the breed.
The first thing to note on the Mark VII GTI is the ride. The prior generation was firm and choppy. The ride is smoother, but still firm. There was no give to bounce hard, as it appeared VW worked on the dampening of the suspension and the suspension geometry. For once, the GTI felt civilized.
While on the subject of dynamics, the drive modes have changed to go along with the DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox). If you go with normal, DSG gearchange behavior will be fine, while the steering has a tinge of softness to it. These are not bad things, but it does go along with the “civilized” theme. Put it into Sport and you do feel the difference. Gearchange will require some engagement through the paddles. What I like about this is the transmission will comply with your request to up or downshift when needed. There is no hesitation and no “beep” refusing your shift request. Steering felt sharp with a weighted and perfect on-center feel. You can also individualize these settings to make engine response in either sport or normal, while keeping the steering the opposite.
Under the hood is a new 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder. Standard horsepower is 210, but you can order an option to bump it up another 10 horsepower. The engine is well matched and comfortable with its new skin. The DSG is a solid transmission that needs to be worked by the driver. If you are clutch-challenged, this will give you a great opportunity to learn how to work the revs to gain better gear and drive control. If you are among the “save the manuals” crowd, a six-speed gearbox is available.
Step inside and you will experience the most premium cabin in Golf/GTI history. The center stack is canted to the driver for the first time ever. Dials and TFT screens have improved for enhanced readability and clarity. VW has moved the cruise control off of the turn signal stalk onto a new multifunction steering wheel. The flat-bottom wheel is fantastic, with new switchgear that will become familiar across the VW line in the next few years. The key word here is “logical” – something we hoped VW would embrace for us. They did fantastically.
The huge change is the infotainment interface. The touchscreen is much improved with more logical readouts and controls. That also includes the climate controls and functions related to Car-Net, VW’s new connected car suite. Everything you touch has a premium feel. Again, this is a welcomed feel for the Golf and the GTI. In this class, you have to step up your game – VW has responded accordingly.
One thing that was a bit of a head scratcher was the use of big wheels on the GTI. The Autobahn package comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels fitted with Pirelli P-Zero Nero rubber.
For 2015, the GTI is only available in four doors. There is plenty of space for four adults, the seats are bolstered perfectly for all drivers, the Fender audio system sounds wonderfully and when you look at it – it is indeed a GTI.
The GTI starts off at $24,995 for an S model. There are a few models inside of the GTI line, topping off with the Autobahn model driven with a base price of $29,595.
To the point, the GTI is more civilized with a premium look, and has smoother driving dynamics with a familiar shape that has now been sharpened for the seventh time. This will be one of those vehicles that will require a full review to truly see whether these conclusions hold up in the daily commute.