Does the 2015 VW Golf TDI keep the virtues of its predecessors? [Review]

2015 vw golf tdi mpg diesel real worldSeventh generation 2015 VW Golf TDI is finally here. It was a long wait as Volkswagen was preparing its Puebla, Mexico manufacturing facility for Mk7 Golf production. This was company’s way to lower pricing and make the car more attractive for the North American market. However, the more important question is – does the new Golf and TDI turbo diesel retain all of its virtues of efficient motoring?

STATS Starting Retail Price As Tested Price HP / Lb-Ft
2015 VW Golf TDI $21,995 $28,815 150 / 236
EPA Rating MPG As Tested MPG Curb Weight
Rating: BUY IT! 31 / 42 40.4 3,080

First, a full disclaimer – the author is an owner of a 2002 VW Golf TDI (an Mk4) with around 180,000 trouble free miles. I am a big fan of the technology and I could not wait to drive the new one to see how same or different it is.

2015 vw golf tdi interior dash steeringAs with most cars, the Golf has grown in physical size over the generations to accommodate families and provide more utility. It succeeds with plentiful passenger room in the rear seat, but the hatch opening is still a little small. Thankfully, the back seats fold easily to allow for larger cargo (52.7 cu-ft). However, the most evident improvement is the refinement and quality of the interior.

Design and styling is still somewhat conservative, but materials and fit and finish are many levels above the Mk4 Golf. The test vehicle is a top of the line SEL model the large screen infotainment system and all the latest technology, including front collision warning. The leather seats are comfortable with supportive bolstering and convey a sporty character. The steering wheel is contoured for good grip.

2015 vw golf tdi engine motor The latest iteration of the 2.0L turbo-diesel four cylinder engine is quieter and smoother than ever. Although, it has the same displacement as before, it has been fully reworked to make 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. The cabin is whisper quiet at speed. There is no engine noise, and it loves cruising at 75 mph on the highway. A casual bystander will not notice the diesel clatter when the car is idling, but you can hear it if you pay attention. The engine pulls strong off the line with just a hint of turbo lag, but the power does fall off soon after you cross 3,500 rpm. The test car came with a 6-speed manual transmission, which is a beautiful match for the engine. It allows for great driver control and keeping the engine in the meat of the power, or maximizing efficiency on the highway when running in sixth.

This TDI does require urea diesel-exhaust-fluid additive. The DEF filler is inside the fuel door, right next to where you fill-up the diesel. Volkswagen has not released recommended DEF refill schedule as of this writing and it does depend on the way you drive. The more aggressive you are, the more fuel and DEF you use.

2015 vw golf tdi volkswagen diesel mpg highway

What is the economy? I registered an impressive 49.5 MPG average after nearly 400 miles on the interstate. When adding more around-town commuting, the computer readout showed 40.4 MPG. All, great numbers and significantly higher than the EPA estimates.

We were able to take the Golf to our test track (at and Golf is surprisingly neutral and confident on this tight course meant for go-karts. You might think that the heavier diesel engine and the rear axle would make it difficult to handle. It’s not the case. Suspension engineers at VW did a good job here.

2015 vw golf tdi diesel doors

The electric power steering is a little overboosted, but it does communicate and has relatively good feel. The car handles regular roads and soaks up rough pavement with comfort. It’s meant to be family car and not a performance model like the GTI. so comfort is important. Still, the Golf surprises with it’s fun-loving and sporty character.

In the end, the Mk7 Golf TDI has all the elements of the older generations combined with the refinement and technology of the modern car.
On the TFLcar scale of:

  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2015 VW Golf TDI SEL a Buy It!  It is still pricey at $28,815 for the top of the line SEL model, but it has so much going for it. It’s roomy, efficient, and fun. You can easily spend the same amount on a similarly equipped 2014 Ford C-MAX Hybrid and get about the same MPGs.  If you can get around without the sunroof, center touch-screen, front collision warning, and other features – you can still get this frugal turbo-diesel at under $23,000.

Check out this track mashup with the Golf TDI and Beetle Turbo R-line.

And here is our full video review.

Andre Smirnov
Andre Smirnov

Andre Smirnov is a life-long automotive enthusiast, writer, producer, and software engineer. He has been writing and reporting at TFL since 2011. Likes ‘going for a drive’.