This week, we finally got behind the wheel of the all-new 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI for a test in the mountains above Phoenix, Arizona to see if it can really achieve its promise of 40 plus mpg.
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf starts with an all new chassis platform this year known as Golf IIV or MQB. The seventh-generation Golf is longer and wider, yet in the case of the SportWagen TDI, up to 95 pounds lighter.
The SportWagen shares the Golf five-door’s near 104” wheelbase but gets a 12-inch longer stretch at the rear. Design and facial features are identical to the rest of the Golf family, which itself mimics the rest of Volkswagen’s models very closely.
As our SportWagen is a top-level SEL with options, it features the Lighting Package with Bi-Xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights. As ours also had the new for 2015 Diver Assistance Package, room is made in the grille and bumper for its radar sensors.
The rear hatch opens with the pulling up of the VW emblem which also tilts automatically when the back-up camera is engaged. It’s a cute detail, but makes noises which take a while to get used to. No power lift-gate is yet offered here, though not a huge necessity.
The overall look is fresh and crisp and well planted with the 18-inch alloy wheels which are part of the SEL trim grade. Notable is the new triangular window ahead of the front door, afforded by its windshield being moved forward.
This strategy shows up inside where a more spacious feeling is had from behind the wheel. Overall interior design is an evolution of VW’s corporate design handbook. High quality switchgear and a down to business layout are its calling cards.
Our SEL had shiny piano black trims along with leatherette seating, leather wrapped wheel and shift knob, LED ambient lighting and a large power operated panoramic sunroof. The roof is a nice touch but the shade isn’t opaque, rather instead a mesh which still lets light and heat through.
The steering wheel has a nice sporting flat bottom design and features all the controls you need for the trip computer, audio system and cruise control. There’s even paddle shifters there for our optioned six-speed DSG transmission.
The center stack features Volkswagen’s all-new touchscreen infotainment system with Navigation and Fender Audio. The new system has hard controls on each side of the screen for top-level menu selections, swipe and pinch motion controls, and a proximity sensor for your hand.
Sound quality from the audio system is phenomenal as we have come to expect from Fender systems in other Volkswagen models. The system offers iPod and Bluetooth connectivity but there is still no USB port to be found here even for charging your devices.
Rear seat passengers will enjoy plenty of space afforded by that increased wheelbase and headroom seems unaffected by that big panoramic sunroof. There are vents back there too for HVAC.
Those seats of course can be easily folded down in a 60/40 split for a full flat-floor cargo area that you get a wagon for. With the seats down you get a full 66.5 cubic feet of cargo area. And underneath that floor is some extra hidden space for smaller things you might want out of sight – even a full sized spare if you dare.
Under the hood this year is an all-new 2.0 liter turbo-diesel engine which has 10 more horsepower than before now at 150. Torque remains at 236 pound feet and can be sent to the front wheels through a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic transmission such as optioned in ours.
The engine while the same size as before is all-new, with a number of comprehensive changes that bring more power, more efficiency than before, and quieter operation. Among them is a new air-to-water inter-cooler which can be seen right up front.
The EPA rates the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI as ours is equipped at 31 mpg city, 42 mpg highway, and 35 mpg combined. We however were able to achieve a 43 mpg combined city and highway average in our week of testing.
If a turbo-diesel isn’t your cup of tea, the Golf SportWagen is also available with a 1.8 liter turbocharged four-cylinder TSI gasoline engine with 170 horsepower.
The new chassis comes with a MacPherson strut front suspension, electric power steering and a multi-link rear suspension as most cars in this class do now. Tuning for the 2015 model is a bit more aggressive though with thicker anti-roll bars and stiffer springs.
Noise levels on rough pavement and on the highway from road noise were acceptable, the engine noise being whisper quiet at speed. Wind noise also seems to be at a minimum in most circumstances, even with the panoramic sunroof.
The Golf five-door for 2015 achieved a Top Safety Pick + status with the IIHS as it earned good ratings in their entire battery of testing including the small-offset crash. In addition, the availability of the crash-prevention systems this year gave it the edge. While the 2015 Golf SportWagen has yet not been tested, it’s expected to have similar results.
In our scoring this week, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI achieves 4.5 out of 5 stars and makes it to our I’d Buy It list for 2015.