- Competes with: Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Corolla
- Looks like: A longer, lower and wider Golf
- Drivetrain: Choice of three four-cylinder engines in 1.8-liter turbo, 2.0-liter turbo (GTI) or 2.0-liter diesel trim; six-speed manual or dual-clutch automated manual transmission
- Hits dealerships: TBD
The seventh generation of one of the longest-running nameplates in the automotive world is making its North American debut at the 2013 New York International Auto Show. Both the 2015 Volkswagen Golf and GTI high-performance variant sit on a new structure, designed to be lighter and less expensive than the current Golf. The 2015 Golf is 2.2 inches longer than the current one but 1.1 inches lower, with increases to both rear-seat legroom (which was already copious) and shoulder room.
Power comes from a choice of three revised engines: The base engine is now a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 170 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque, replacing the old 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. It's mated to either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. An optional diesel engine is available; the new 2.0-liter TDI turbo makes 150 hp and 236 pounds-feet of torque and is mated to either a six-speed manual or DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. The top engine, available in the GTI hot hatch, is a new turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 210 hp and 258 pounds-feet of torque; it also comes with six-speed manual or DSG automatic transmissions.Inside, the Golf gets a substantial makeover, with a more driver-oriented cockpit and repositioned seats, pedals and controls. A new base radio with a 5.8-inch touch-screen is standard, and a proximity sensor allows for smartphone-like swipe control. The media interface cable has been moved to the lower center console from the armrest storage, and the interior now features six cupholders for passengers. Cruise control also has been moved to the steering wheel from the column stalk.
The GTI receives the traditional sporting cues, including new sport seats with a plaid cloth pattern; a black headliner; red ambient lighting; and stainless-steel pedals, trim and shift knob. There is no word yet on when the new Golf will go on sale in the U.S., but given that VW is referring to the U.S. model as a 2015, chances are that it's not going to be this year. The new car switches production location as well, heading to VW's Mexico plant, which could result in a considerably less expensive car.
When VW switched Passat production from Germany to a new U.S. plant in Tennessee, it was able to drop the base price of the car by nearly $7,000. The Jetta saw a drop of more than $3,000 when it went to a new platform as well; localizing Golf production could mean less expensive, more price-competitive models are just a year away.