Volkswagen is marking a milestone for its Golf model while simultaneously ushering in the next generation of its iconic hatchback. With the New York auto show as it stage, the German automaker is celebrating 40 years of what it proudly touts is "the most successful European car of all time" while also unveiling more details about the all-new 2015 models that will go on sale in the coming months.
As a quick history lesson, the first-gen Golf went on sale in May 1974 in Europe and arrived on U.S. shores that December as the Rabbit. Since then, over 30 million models have been sold worldwide. For 2015, the Golf and its performance-oriented GTI sibling enter their seventh generation. While they are slightly larger and bring the expected enhancements in safety technology, fuel economy and power, their basic mission remains the same: to provide the cargo-carrying versatility of a compact hatch infused with sporty European driving manners and surprising efficiency, all at a cost that doesn't obliterate the budget.
Regarding that last point, buyers of the 2015 GTI have reason to celebrate, too. The new VW GTI will see a price increase of less than $200 over the current model, yet packs a sizable boost in power and features. Amid the Golf's big 4-0 party, Volkswagen announced that the hot-hatch 2015 GTI model will start at $25,215, including destination, when it goes on sale in June. Regular Golf models are set to arrive at dealerships in August, with their pricing expected closer to launch.
In addition to bringing a freshly invigorated turbocharged 4-cylinder engine to the party (it packs 210 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, gains of 10 horsepower and 51 lb-ft of torque over the outgoing model), the 2015 VW GTI will come with a new driving mode selector, touchscreen audio system, LED foglights and VW's recently introduced Car-Net telematics system. In addition to the base model, the GTI will be offered in two higher trims: SE and Autobahn. The former starts at $28,215 and adds a sunroof, keyless access, push-button start, rearview camera, Fender premium audio system and leather interior. The range-topping Autobahn, available only as a 4-door, will start at $30,415 and brings navigation, 12-way power driver's seat, and automatic climate control. All come with VW's superb 6-speed manual transmission, or a 6-speed DSG automatic can be added instead for $1,100.
For GTI devotees with patience and an extra $1,495 in their pocket, a Performance Package will be offered later in the year. The option will include larger brakes, torque-sensing electronically controlled limited-slip differential, and 10 extra ponies under the hood. Also offered later in the year will be the Dynamic Chassis Control option. The adaptive damping system is the first of its kind on a U.S. version of the GTI, and will be available on models equipped with the Performance Package.
If you're a GTI fan (we'll assume you are since you've read this far) and are wondering how the new car will perform when rubber meets the road, you're in good company. While we haven't tested a U.S.-spec model just yet (stay tuned), we have driven a European version of the hot hatch, and you can see how it performed by clicking the link.
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