2015 VW GTI First Drive: The Hot Hatch Gets Moderately Warmer
What do Leonardo DiCaprio and a Volkswagen GTI have in common? Neither of them have won an Oscar, and they both turn 40 this year, go figure. For anyone who knows a little history on the GTI — it's a celebration spanning seven generations; from MK1 to MK7. From the beginning, the GTI has been the big seller in the Golf lineup here in the U.S. Today, it accounts for 40% of all Golf sales, and still gives fanboy racers all they would expect from a hot hatch, but without all the drawbacks of other less-comfortable $25K sportscars. A classier and more composed appearance accompanies panache performance. The exterior and interior both get a minor revamping, along with a more powerful engine (in performance spec), and a healthy serving of new technology. It's a more grown up, more refined GTI. PHOTOS: See More of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI
Immediately any enthusiast will tell you exactly where the MK7 exterior differs in comparison to the MK6. The headlights and taillights are sharper, and the C-pillar is reminiscent of boxier GTI’s of past, a la MK3 and MK4. And the wheels are slightly new, but not unfamiliar. It’s plain to see that V-Dub went the “evolution” route rather than “revolution,” throwing back to some history along the way.
Inside it’s much of the same. The interior is cleaner, and carries a more quality build than previous generations, but still remains familiar to GTI faithful — plaid seats and all. We opted for the automatic DSG gearbox which, as always, was peppy and well-prepared for high revs and quick transitions. The manual gearbox though, which we tested statically, was much more precise than the slushy MK6.
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When it came down to it, the MK7 GTI was better than the MK6 in which it replaced, albeit only incrementally. But truth be told, that’s really all it needed to be, was slightly better. The MK6 was, and will always be one of the greats, and a minor refresh and power bump was exactly what the MK7 needed. A new gearbox, a new platform and some new looks make the MK7 just slightly that much better.
We like to think of it as the original hot hatchback, given a quick zap in VW's engineering microwave. We can't wait to deliver a full review of this thing.
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