Volkswagen redesigned its Golf and related GTI hatchbacks for 2015, and aside from lower prices and more standard equipment, drivers can also expect a safer car according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The agency awarded both compact hatchbacks its top honor, the Top Safety Pick Plus award, for earning good scores in all areas of testing, including the small front overlap test. This test, which is proving difficult for automakers to master, simulates a crash in which 25 percent of a vehicle's driver's side front end strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.
"The driver's space was maintained well and injury measures recorded on the dummy indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity. While the dummy's head nearly slid off the left side of the airbag, the side curtain airbag deployed to protect the head from contacting side structure and outside objects," IIHS said in a statement.
To qualify for Top Safety Pick Plus status, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating in the small overlap test, a good rating in the other four tests and a rating of basic or higher for front crash prevention. Both the Golf and GTI offer an optional forward collision warning system for 2015 that the IIHS rates as basic.
The 2014 versions of both cars received good scores in the moderate front overlap, side, roof strength and head restraint tests; the small front overlap test was not performed, and the models did not offer any type of forward collision warning system.