The decision to buy a Golf is two-fold. First, you need to decide which engine is right for you. The new-for-2015 1.8-liter four-cylinder produces 170 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 200 pound-feet of torque between 1,500 and 2,650 rpm, while the 2-liter turbo-diesel (TDI) engine makes 150 at 3,500 rpm and 236 pound-feet of twist at 1,750 rpm, while getting 35 mpg combined. The second stage is simply choosing what features suit you.
An unfortunate circumstance for diesel fans is that the low-cost Launch Edition doesn't offer the option of a TDI engine. This thrifty torque monster starts out in the better-equipped TDI S trim, which costs $4,000 more than the Launch Edition.
To give buyers the ultimate drivetrain freedom, Volkswagen chose to offer a six-speed manual transmission as the standard gearbox in every trim level and offer the DSG automatic transmission as a $1,100 upgrade, except in the Launch Edition.
There is a total of eight trim levels available on the 2015 Golf:
Unlike many base trim levels, the Golf Launch Edition is anything but stripped down, as it includes Bluetooth, a touchscreen infotainment system, power windows and door locks, and iPod integration. It is the perfect blend of a low entry fee and high-end features for younger buyers.
The Golf S adds $1,000 to the price and nets buyers some more mature features, like leatherette upholstery, aluminum-alloy wheels, Car-Net connected services and partial power seats in the four-door model.
This package adds an extra $300 to the Golf S four-door and give you a skyward view, thanks to its panoramic sunroof. Unfortunately, buyers cannot get this package in a two-door model. For an extra $995, you can opt for the Lighting Package, which adds in bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, ambient lighting, LED reading lights, and adaptive headlights.
The SE package adds $5,505 to the S package, and for this money buyers get loads of premium features, including 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, the cold weather package with heated seats and headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, fog lights, a rearview camera and the upgraded Fender Audio System.
The SEL package adds $2,500 to the price of the SE, and brings the Golf to a level of luxury few compact hatchbacks can meet with features like 18-inch wheels, navigation, automatic climate control, keyless start, a 12-way power driver's seat and ambient lighting with LED reading lights.
The TDI S is the base level for the diesel engine, and it gets all of the same features as its gasoline-power trim-mate. Jumping to the TDI adds $3,000 to the Golf S's base price
Like the TDI S, the TDI SE has all the same features as the gasoline-powered Golf SE, but it only costs $1,000 more than its petrol counterpart.
The TDI SEL, like the TDI SE, is a $1,000 upgrade over the gasoline-powered SEL model, and shares its features.
If you do a lot of long-haul driving, we suggest opting for the TDI engine, as the increased fuel economy and reduced emissions more than offsets the $3,000 upgrade on the SE model. If long hauls aren't your thing, then the livelier gasoline engine is the better choice.
Choose your Volkswagen Golf »