2015 VW GTI – First Drive (Mk7 Tech Perspective)

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In 1976, Volkswagen created the “hot hatch” with all the MK1 Golf GTI. The little GTI has evolved to the seventh generation you see here, although since that time, many competitors have come and gone. Though the GTI has expandedbigger and stronger, and more refined over the years, it has retained plenty of its original character, with the Mk7 2015 GTI is the best one yet.

1976 Volkswagen MK1 Golf front-endWe need to list base trim, because, for the first time, Volkswagen will offer a Performance Package that, amongst other things, will bump power to 220 hp. Even bigger is the addition of 51 lb-ft of torque over the Mk6, bringing the whole to 258 lb-ft. (The figure is identical for Performance and base Package cars.) Better still, torque peaks at just 1500 rpm and remains tabletop flat all the way up until 4400 (base) or 4600 (Performance Package) rpm. I have a feeling the engineers in Wolfsburg are now being modest making use of their numbers, as not only does this GTI feel faster than the previous car, but the Performance Package car feels like it receives way over a 10-hp bump.

2015 Volkswagen Golf R – First Drive

In addition to having extra power, the third-generation 2.-liter EA888 turbo-four is lighter and more efficient. The increases come from several changes, the very first of which is the use of both direct and port injection. Port injection is still preferable for low RPM situations, and direct injection is a lot more efficient once power is requested. I actually have a feeling that using a small amount of port injection will even help with the carbon buildup on the intake valves inherent in direct injection engines, although it is unconfirmed by VW. Those valves are now controlled by a set of cams which include variable timing on both the exhaust and intake side. The exhaust-side cam also features variable lift, which optimizes exhaust charge velocity to reduce turbo lag.

2015 Volkswagen GTI front three quarters in motion 3

2015 Volkswagen GTI rear end in motion 4

2015 Volkswagen GTI side in motion 6

2015 Volkswagen GTI taillight

2015 Volkswagen GTI wheels in motion

2015 Volkswagen GTI grille

Another remarkable engine feature is the absence of the exhaust. Instead, the exhaust runners collect in the head before dumping out straight into the turbo. Minimizing runner length means faster spool times and probably saves a few bucks in the process. Those runners are surrounded by coolant to keep exhaust gas temperature down, primarily in high-power situations. Previously, these engines had to run richer than optimal to preserve the O2 sensor and the catalytic convertor. Besides leaning out at the top end pick up several ponies, it uses less fuel in the processcontinues to be the best blend of cost, durability and weight for this engine — it has lost some weight through optimization of mass. A good portion of the fasteners are now aluminum; the oil pan is plastic; as well as the new turbo, no longer a K03-based unit, is more lighter and efficient than the previous unit. Even with more power and substantially more torque, Volkswagen is expecting an EPA rating of 24 mpg city and 34 mpg highway for both models.

Instead of a straight mechanical Torsen or clutch-pack differential, Volkswagen went with an open differential combined with a personal computer-controlled, hydraulically operated wet-clutch coupling that locks the axles, although another GTI first is incorporating a proper limited-slip differential. The setup allows the differential to operate fully open after it is most advantageous, with the ability to fully lock it when needed. Charge of the differential is tied into the stability control as well as the old electronic differential system, now referred to as XDS , which is often used for brake vectoring in extreme situations. Unsurprisingly, transmission choices will continue to consist ofpurchased in the U.S. Despite being larger and better-equipped, the Mk7 will probably be almost 100 pounds lighter than the outgoing MK6. Hot-formed steel, which makes up 22 percent from the Mk7’s unibody versus only a 6 percent of the Mk6’s, part of the weight-loss is because of a dramatic increase in the use of ultra high-strength. The Mk7 also promises to be safer, with VW saying that the architecture was modified late within the development cycle to perform better in the new small offset crash test.

Anyone that’s ever labored on a Golf will find a familiar setup within the Mk7’s suspension. The front suspension arms and subframe are now produced from high-strength steel, although the front is still a MacPherson strut. While not as sexy to check out as cast aluminum, it can be both lighter and more rigid. The change may save 4 pounds, but keep in mind that these are larger and stronger components.is already hollow, something the aftermarket tuners have already been doing for the decade to shave ounces. What the tuners aren’t doing is vulcanizing the bushings directly to the bar to minimize NVH during use. VW has also labored on the geometry of the 2015 GTI, raising the roll center nearer to the center of gravity. This reduces the strength of the lateral force that pushes the body in the car from the inside of the turn, making for less body roll with the same spring rates.

VW also spent more time on the suspension bushings. Maintaining geometry through the suspension’s motion is key for keeping the car stable and predictable, and the Mk7’s stronger bushings keep the tires pointed inside the intended direction while still isolating NVH. On the front suspension mock-up VW had the event, the bushings looked and felt far stouter than those on thein the Mk5, but here too, VW shaved weight (some 9 pounds) and improved functionality. New bushings have risen transverse rigidity, improving rear tire tracking and quickening the entire car’s reaction to turn-in. The rear suspension also utilizes a hollow anti-roll bar and the locations of the anti-roll bar drop-shock and links-mounting points have been changed. It all adds up to a more connected-feeling car front to rear.

To quicken steering response, the 2015 GTI uses a variable-ratio steering rack that needs a mere 2.1 turns to go lock-to-lock. The teeth on the rack itself vary in pitch and spacing in accordance with the distance from the center of the rack. As a result, on-center the steering feel and response feel like those of the old car, but response increases while you dial in lock. Unlike active systems, however, the settings are constant and can’t be changed with all the push of the mouse.

Front rotors on the standard Mk7 GTI measure 12.4 inches in diameter and grow to 13.4 inches with the Performance Package. It seems that both will have the same calipers, though we couldn’t get confirmation.

In Europe, Volkswagen lists a 17-inch wheel as standard on the base GTI. The Performance Pack will get 18-inch wheels and 19-inch wheels will be optional. For the United states, VW happens to be saying that the 18-inchers will be standard, with no word around the 19-inchers. Summer tires will likely be an option and, after much prodding, VW admitted it willUnited states and European GTIs is the parking brake setup. European models can have a wonderfully efficient and-tech electronic parking brake operated from a small pull switch around the center tunnel. In the U.S. will we receive the old-fashioned mechanical pull-type E-brake that we all have demonstrated the extreme quantities of self-control to never use at 40 mph approximately in a snow-covered parking lot.

Design

Though the new GTI features a bigger footprint, its roofline is slightly lower. It’s visually more aggressive in comparison to the Mk6 and contains a bit more presence. It looks great and appears far more mature than rivals like the Focus MazdaSpeed3 and ST.

We still don’t really know what lighting options will be offered in the Usa In Europe, the GTI has bi-xenon lights with the active headlight option and LEDs can be used for the taillights and daytime running lights.

2015 Volkswagen GTI front endInside, the Mk7 GTI is only slightly bigger in writing, but seems much roomier in the flesh. I’m 6’2,” and there’s still more than an inch between my knee and the seatback with the front seat adjusted to my driving position. There is also lots of headroom front and rear, and the measured 4-inch boost in rear shoulder room doesn’t do the actual increase in space justice.

The interior might be the biggest single factor separating the GTI along with its rivals. The level of quality and refinement in the cabin is several notches above the Focus, Speed3, and WRX. The cabin iscomfortable and quiet, and better finished than even some more-expensive German offerings. The new 8-inch touchscreen now features Google Earth Maps and appears as good as anything in any other car. For those concerned that VW would decontent the GTI’s interior, sleep easy. Plaid cloth with Alcantara bolsters will once again be standard, with leather becoming an option.

2015 Volkswagen GTI front end in motion 7

2015 Volkswagen GTI front-end in motion

2015 Volkswagen GTI front three quarter in motion 3

2015 Volkswagen GTI side in motion 6

2015 Volkswagen GTI rear three quarters in motion

2015 Volkswagen GTI rear three quarters in motion 4

Driving Impressions

During our day in various Mk7 trims, VW offered up a palate cleanser such as a Mk1 GTI. It doesn’t hold a candle to the brand new one, as much as I adore the classic hatch. On the highway, the new technology does what it really should: fade into the background. The variable rate steering rack feels go-kart quick at first, but becomes second nature within 15 minutes. In typical GTI fashion, it feels comfortable and solid. It’s also quiet, rides better than the earlier car, and feels closer to an M or an AMG than an ST badge. The cars we drove showed major differences in ride and handling between the different modes of the Dynamic Chassis Control. We still don’t know if this is coming to the U.S., but I’m not holding my breath.It’s the split second afterward which makes the difference, although turn-in on the 2015 GTI is still quick and accurate. The GTI always had the ability to corner quickly, but once it started getting a lot more powerful, it became a point-and-shoot car. Now, it tracks as consistent unit. Instead of the front leading your back, it rotates around with front and back cooperating and the limited slip differential is an absolute revelation. The LSD allows for earlier throttle application, although gTI drivers are normally accustomed to carrying the brakes into the turn, late apexing, and receiving a bit straightened out before really getting on the power.In spite of the extra torque, there is no torque steer. Unlike the Focus ST and Speed3, which work to rip the wheel out of your hands, the GTI just puts the power down. Even aggressive shifts of the manual gearbox won’t elicit tugging of the wheel.

If the standard GTI feels quick, the Performance Package is downright fast. I can’t wait to actually test the cars together to see what happens, although the horsepower numbers still favor the rivals on paper. A track evaluation will be interesting as well. Previously, we have always gotten GTIs on all-season tires, though with an actual limited slip differential and summer tires, I think I might just put my money on the GTI.

In the real world, the refinement helps to make the GTI much more attractive compared to Focus. The new seats are the most effective to ever grace a Golf — I am including Golf Rs, Anniversary editions, and in many cases Trophies to suit your needs old-schoolers out there. The steering wheel is still among the finest in the industry, and how can you nothing like a golf ball shift knob? The trunk opening is low and wide cut, meaning it will be easy to fill the giant hatch with all the current stuff, which explains why you wanted a hatch for starters, right?


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