Turbo Diesel, check. Wagon, check. 6-speed stick, check. Wayne Gerdes – CleanMPG – July 26, 2015 Meet the 2015 VW Golf SportWagen TDI parked along the Pacific Coast near Malibu. Starting at $24,595, it provides owners an easy to achieve 31/43 mpgUS city/highway rating. 2015 VW Golf SportWagen Overview At the opening of the Detroit Auto Show in January, the all-new 7th generation VW Golf family was named the 2015 North American Car(s) of the Year by 57 esteemed North American Car and Truck of the Year jurors from automotive media across the U.S. and Canada. Following up on that achievement, the company which is celebrating its 60th year in the U.S., released a game changing model with all of the attributes of the award winner(s) but in a family wagon format. The latest member of Volkswagen’s Golf family starts at $21,395 when equipped with the 170 hp and 199 lb-ft turbocharged and direct-injected 1.8L I4 mated to the base 5-speed MT. That drivetrain is fine by all accounts but it is the all-new 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque 2.0L EA288 Clean Diesel mated to either the 6-speed MT or 6-speed dual clutch AT that makes takes the all-new 2015 VW Golf SportWagen from a world renowned award winner to a hyper efficient world class super wagon. What makes the SportWagen is its std. 30.4 cu. ft. behind the rear seats and a whopping 66.5 cu. ft. with the seats folded flat. This compares favorably to something the size of the CX-5 with 34.1 and 64.8 cu. ft. of cargo capacity with the seats up and down respectively. Part of the large volumes are explained by its dimensions including being 1.1 inches longer (179.6”), 0.7 inches wider (70.8”) and 1.1 inches lower (58.3”) than the Jetta SportWagen it replaced. 2015 VW Golf SportWagen Exterior The 2015 VW Golf SportWagen features two prominent 0 radius feature lines running the length of the hood from near the A-Pillars to the edge of the upper grille opening. A std. 3 bar grille with the lowest bar being chrome is centered by the large VW logo. Large wraparound headlamp lenses and a large lower intake with a lower chrome strip on the SELs and all black on the S/SEs is standard. The SE and SEL trims can be purchased with a standalone lighting package ($995) which includes Bi-Xenon HIDs and LED DRLs, as well as an Adaptive front-lighting system that steers one of the headlamps in the direction that you are turning. These bright headlamps and AFS work great too! Moving to the profile, a laser welded body to roof seam is also standard. This construction detail not only looks great but is stronger than the spit welded seams most other vehicles use. Again not inexpensive to build but a quality detail you will not find on competitors. Another chiseled 0 radius character line runs just below the door handles from the front fender flare to the beginning of the rear fender flare where it disappears and reappears running to the center of the rear taillamps. Beneath sees a mild sill cutout. Attractive 16”, 17” and 18” alloys are standard on the TDI S, SE and SEL trims respectively. To create these distinct bends, varying thickness – read expensive - sheet metal is used. From the back, a roof lip spoiler, large hatch with a large centered VW chrome badge and lower chrome tipped exhaust on the SEL round out the backside. The hatch load height of just 24.8 inches and a 40.6 inches wide opening adds to its utility. Hidden rear view camera and hatch lever. 2015 VW Golf SportWagen Interior Moving inside, the new SportWagen is larger than its predecessor with 94.3 cu ft, up from 91.7 cu. ft. With 41.2” of front seat legroom, you have to be a giant not to fit inside this large and well-designed cockpit. Driver control position, seat placement and adjustment, shifter height, spacing between the pedals and the center stack angled towards the driver have all been fine-tuned to meet the ergonomic needs of the American driver. An area that the Japanese offerings always miss. Utility is the SportWagens strong point. The steering wheel CC toggles are multifunctional. I am not talking about initializing (top right mimic), canceling (CNL), set speed (SET), resume (RES) and up and down (- +) left to right toggle but both a +/- single mph and +/-5 mph function. The - + left right toggle is +/- 5 mph while the RES/SET switches raise or lower CC speeds by 1 mph. Just good old fashion ingenuity by making it easy to use yet multifunctional. Tactile feedback is a little light but dash indications display exactly what you changed. New driver display control functions are cycled through with your thumb on the wheel toggle vs. the end of the stalk from the previous gen. In addition, there is more high quality trim pieces that you cannot find on anything in the segment. This includes a generous amount of soft touch dash plastics, cloth textured A-Pillar, felt lined door map pockets and glove box, oval grip leather wrapped wheel, shifter and hand brake, split folding rear seats that can be dropped from a lever that can be accessed from either the rear seat or rear hatch plus a 12V/115 outlets in the rear cargo area. 2 levers to lower the rear seats plus the two 115V/12V outlets. SEL trims with the Fender Audio system have large tweeters in the A-pillars. And like all VWs nowadays, they have a woven cloth like covering vs every one of its competitors. Soft Touch interior plastics in the dash do not just cover the dash face but cover the entire dash right up to the either screen. Again, nobody in this segment provides that level of std. build quality. IP colors are matched and aluminum trim pieces are again, best in segment. 2015 VW Golf SportWagen Trims, Features, and Pricing The entry-level TDI S trim ($24,595) features 16” alloys, black roof rails, vinyl seating surfaces, power windows, locks and heated mirrors, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and streaming, VW Car-Net connected car, keyless access with push-button start, rear view camera, 5.8” touchscreen, CD in the glovebox, SiriusXM, (2) 12V and (1) 115V power outlets and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. What is really cool about this display is as your hand nears, it automatically switches to a more finger-friendly layout. The SE ($27,995) includes all of the base S features plus 17” alloys, foglights, Panoramic sunroof, the excellent Fender Premium Audio System and heated front seats. 2015 VW Golf SportWagen TDI Drivetrain The all-new 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque arriving at a low 1,750 RPM 2.0L TDI mated to a 6-speed MT or 6-speed DSG dual-clutch AT ($1,100) provide a 31/43 mpg and 31/42 mpg city/highway rating respectively. The block is cast iron, with a forged steel crankshaft on five main bearings connected to two gear-driven counter-rotating balancer shafts to reduce NVH. The 2.0L TDI incorporates an aluminum head with a two-section coolant jacket, three-part cooling circuit and switchable coolant pump. NOx emissions are reduced by 40 percent with the latest SCR system and DPF located next to the exhaust manifold and low-pressure EGR. 2015 VW Golf SportWagen TDI Chassis The Golf SportWagen chassis is comprised of high- and ultra-high strength steels to not only stiffen up the chassis but also lighten it. It features struts up front and a compact torsion beam out back. From what I could gather, the multi-link setup of the std. 1.8L TSI could not be used with the TDIs due to the SCR tank location. Having driven both, you would be hard pressed to tell the difference as they both ride extremely flat until you drive rough roads through a corner where you might feel some chatter. The system that is partially responsible for the excellent flat ride and confident cornering could be the XDS Cross Differential System that monitors each wheel sensor and if the suspension becomes unloaded, the system automatically applies braking to the driven inside wheel as needed to help reduce understeer improving stability and handling. This wagon is not your average CUV as its cornering prowess is far better. Braking is typical VW. 4 wheel discs have linear, progressive and powerful stopping power thanks to 11.3-inch vented front discs and 10.0-inch solid discs out back to bring her down from speed smartly. 2015 VW Golf SportWagen TDI Safety Passively, front, side and side curtains airbags and an automatic post-collision braking system are standard. Actively, the SportWagen is equipped with standard ABS, EBFD, ESC, Brake Override, Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Engine and Hydraulic Brake Assist (EBA) and (HBA), and TPMS. The SE and SEL Driver Assistance Systems ($695) adds a radar based Forward Collision visual and auditory warning and front and rear Park Distance Control systems. The standard Golf has received a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS. The SportsWagen has not yet been tested by either the IIHS or NHTSA. 2015 VW Golf SportWagen TDI Impressions and Efficiency As a fan of the CX-5, the Golf SportWagen offers less body roll and better balance when all 4 wheels get loose. The sturdy roof racks and the $350 VW/Thule bike carrier accessory is rock solid! There is something magical about VWs latest 6-speed sticks mated to their EA288 2.0L TDI engines. When you launch, the ECU brings the revs up to over 1,000 RPM as soon as any torque is felt through the clutch. You can launch from a dead stop with no accelerator pedal and barely any clutch play all the way through 6th gear. Nobody will do this but the 2015 VW Golf SportWagen can. I am assuming the 15 Golf, 15 Jetta and 15 Passat TDIs can too. You can also idle along in stop and crawl traffic at 5 mph in first or 8 mph in second on the flats or with a grade without ever touching the accelerator pedal. The Hill Start Assist makes launching uphill far less intimidating for the beginner manual driver and really easy even for us decade(s) long clutch users. While the 1/2 and 3/4 gates are a little close to one another, this is the best stick for the beginner or heavy traffic driver I have ever driven. The 6-speed MT is like all VW MTs. Short and precise throws set you up for success. The clutch is very light and after spending almost an hour to escape downtown Austin at rush, I could go for another few hours of fun without tiring. USB ports are unfortunately non-existent but will be remedied for the next model year. The 4Motion AWD Alltrack will arrive as a 2017 model with a 1” lift for those so inclined. 2015 VW Golf SportWagen "in" a river crossing Something else few in the C-segment offer. The hood has a strut. Meaning no prop rod! I topped off the 15 VW Golf SportWagen at a Shell on West Hwy 290 in Austin, TX in preps to drive it back 1,500 mile to Los Angeles, California. 1,017 miles later, it was time for a refill. I topped off the 2015 VW Golf SportWagen TDI at a Shell Station just off the 101 and 59th in Glendale a few miles west of Phoenix. A total of 1,017 miles with 1,014.3 miles indicated and 79.3 miles beyond DTE 0. 81.4 mpg and 1014.3 miles indicated, 1,017 miles on 13.627 gal for a 74.6 mpg actual result. With the offset calculated, we can derive the steady states. The EPA highway of 43 mpg crossover arrives at 70.5 mpg. Very respectable but we have seen much higher crossovers from every other VW and Audi equipped with a 2.0 or 3.0L TDI. For the max effort, the 5 was all balled up through Camp Pendleton incl. single lane construction and a Border Patrol checks. 112 mpg displayed or 101.8 mpg actual over a 35 mile RT drive loop in mid-50 degree temps is not bad at all. All in, there is a damn good reason why auto journalists love great handling turbo diesel wagons with sticks. It is because they offer family utility with budget saving fuel frugality and are also fun to drive. While “driving a wagon” stigma is just as strong in the public’s eye, my wife included, there is no CUV available in the U.S. that offers the efficiency, range and fun to drive nature as the 2015 VW SportWagen.