Motor Trend named the Volkswagen Golf family—Golf 1.8T, Golf TDI Clean Diesel, Golf GTI and e-Golf models—as the 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year. The Golf has won COTY only once before, in 1985.
For 2015, the Golf was a near-unanimous choice among our judges by virtue of its strong performance in each of our six Car of the Year criteria.—Motor Trend
Motor Trend’s Car of the Year program is open to any all-new or substantially upgraded 2015 automobile. Rather than being compared against one another, contending vehicles are first put through Motor Trend’s full battery of performance tests to measure acceleration, braking, and limit handling.
Each finalist is then driven on a real-world road loop that provides a range of surfaces and traffic conditions to evaluate ride and handling, engine and transmission smoothness and responsiveness, wind and road noise, and ergonomics. In the final phase of Car of the Year, Motor Trend judges debate and evaluate each vehicle against the award’s six key criteria:
Design Advancement—well-executed exterior and interior styling; innovative vehicle packaging; good selection and use of materials.
Engineering Excellence—total vehicle concept and execution; clever solutions to packaging, manufacturing and dynamics issues; cost-effective tech that benefits the consumer.
Efficiency—low fuel consumption and carbon footprint, relative to the vehicle's competitive set.
Safety—a vehicle’s ability to help the driver avoid a crash, as well as the secondary safety measures that protect its occupants from harm during a crash.
Value—competitive price and equipment levels, measured against those of vehicles in the same market segment.
Performance of Intended Function—how well the vehicle does the job its planners, designers, and engineers intended it to do.
In terms of efficiency, Motor Trend noted:
Weight reduction and improved engine efficiency have resulted in fuel economy gains for both the TSI and GTI models with their respective 1.8- and 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 gas engines. Even more impressive, Volkswagen has also included room in the lineup for diesel and electric versions of the Golf. The Golf TDI and its 2.0-liter turbo-diesel inline-four return an EPA combined rating of 36 mpg, while the e-Golf has an EPA-estimated range of 83 miles. The best part is that neither car is a penalty box to drive. What the TDI lacks in horsepower it mostly makes up for in torque. While it didn’t feel quite as quick as the TSI, it was no slouch for a C-segment car. No matter which Golf variant we jumped into, we emerged with smiles on our faces. With several electric vehicles present at this year’s COTY event, the e-Golf was lauded for driving and feeling most like a “normal” car. Indeed, it’s tough to distinguish the e-Golf visually from its internal-combustion counterparts, inside or out. We also enjoyed the driving experience. The chassis feels as willing and playful as the other variants, while the electric motor provides an instantaneous 199 lb-ft of torque, rocketing the e-Golf forward. Best of all, interior and cargo room appear to suffer little thanks to clever battery packaging.
The other COTY finalists were:
- Audi A3
- BMW 2 Series
- Ford Mustang
- Honda Fit
- Hyundai Genesis
- Kia Sedona
- Lexus RC
- Maserati Ghibli
- Mercedes-Benz C-Class