Bottom line: The 2015 Golf should be on the list of anyone shopping for a compact, front-wheel-drive family hatchback car. There are a variety of Golf models for a variety of pocketbook sizes and transportation needs. If you are shopping small, you simply have to shop the Golf lineup.
Ride acceleration and handling: The TDI has more oomph. Credit the extra torque. You feel it — hallelujah! The TSI gets good marks in ride, acceleration and handling. It is a darn good commuter.
Body style and layout: The TDI and TSI are built on what VW officials call their MQB global platform. It allows for a longer (about 2.1 inches in the new Golf), wider (by about half an inch), lower body. There is more space for people and stuff inside of the front-engine, front-wheel-drive hatchback Golf, available with two or four side doors. Gas-electric hybrid and all-electric Golf models should be available in the summer.
Engines/transmissions: The TSI comes standard with a 1.8-liter, direct-injection, 16-valve, turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder engine (170 horsepower, 200 pound-feet of torque) linked to a five-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic transmission. The TDI comes with a 2-liter, turbocharged and intercooled, 16-valve diesel engine (150 horsepower, 236 pound-feet of torque) linked to a standard six-speed manual transmission and an optional six-speed automatic.
Capacities: Both have comfortable seating for five people. Cargo volume in both with rear seats up is 22.8 cubic feet. With rear seats folded, it is 52.7 cubic feet. The TSI holds 13.2 gallons of regular-grade gasoline; the TDI, 13.2 gallons of ultra-low-sulfur (15 parts per million) diesel fuel.
Mileage: In highway driving, I averaged 35 miles per gallon in the TSI and 42 in the TDI.
Safety: Standard equipment in the TSI and TDI includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear), four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, braking assistance and electronic brake-force distribution, stability and traction control, side and head air bags.
Advanced safety features: Blind-side and lane-departure monitoring, rearview backup camera.
Pricing: The 2015 Golf line goes on sale this summer in U.S dealerships. Base prices will range from $17,995 for the limited-edition Golf Launch to $29,095 for the TDI SEL. These cars will sell well, which means you could run into dealer-imposed premiums.