The compact hatchback, along with its Volkswagen GTI hot-hatch sibling, is lighter, larger, and more fuel-efficient than past generations, and adds a host of available safety equipment that it hasn't previously offered.
For the first time, our live photos show proper U.S. market cars, built in Mexico--rather than the European cars depicted in previous press images. U.S. visually differ from those sold in Europe, but the differences are minor.
The lines of the new 2015 Golf will be familiar to anyone who's seen a Golf (also known in the U.S. at various points as the Rabbit) on the streets. With a clear design history dating all the way back to the first Golf in 1974, the newest iteration four decades later is larger but just as crisp. Dimensionally, the 2015 Golf is 2 inches longer, an inch lower, and half an inch wider, and the front wheels are closer to the front of the car--extending the cabin length as a proportion of the overall car.
Inside the Golf is both new, and familiar. A simple, high-quality layout puts all controls just where you want them. The traditional black dash and interior trim is offset in some models by available two-tone upholstery.
All Golfs use more soft-touch materials, and trim materials include piano black plastics, aluminum, and chrome. Volkswagen has boosted the available storage inside the new Golf, with a sliding tray underneath the front seats (if they're manually adjusted), six cupholders, and a larger glovebox that includes a CD changer.
Safety equipment includes six airbags, the usual suite of electronic safety systems, and a new automatic crash-braking system that brakes the car when its sensors detect that it is involved in a primary collision.
The 2015 VW Golf and GTI for the U.S. offer a choice of three engines. The standard Golf comes with a new 170-horsepower turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, deemed TSI for its gasoline direct injection and turbocharging.
Most relevant to our readers, and likely to be a popular choice, is a new generation of the 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder turbodiesel for which Volkswagen is renowned. It develops 150 hp and a substantial 236 lb-ft of torque, and should better the current TDI's efficiency figures too--diesel is only going to get bigger.
Transmission options for the gasoline Golf include "manual and automatic" choices, and the TDI diesel will offer either a six-speed manual or VW's six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission.
A GTI model also returns. Visually, it's denoted by a more aggressive front air intake, larger alloy wheels, and additional aerodynamic aids like side skirts and a rear diffuser. It also rides somewhat lower on a sportier suspension.
The 2015 Volkswagen GTI will have a 2.0-liter TSI engine, though VW is being slightly coy about its power, saying that it's expected to be "about 210 hp." Customers can opt for either a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed DSG automatic.
Prices and fuel efficiency figures will be released by Volkswagen closer to the time the 2015 Golf and 2015 GTI go on sale, which is expected to be roughly in the spring of 2014.
For more launches and news from the New York Auto Show, head over to our dedicated show page.