2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Mk 7)
2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Mk 7). Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Dan Heyman

Napa Valley, California – What a difference just a few choice interior additions can make to a vehicle.

Yes, this may seem a strange way to start a story about a car that hasn’t even reached our shores yet (check back this time next year), but have a drive in a doppelganger for what’s going to be the 2015 Mark 7 Golf and you tell me you don’t come away thinking “man, just when I thought they could do no better…”

I am a fan of the current-generation Golf; it’s an athletic, handsome, quick little car that managed to maintain just enough of its European flare to not look like it’s trying too hard; throw in a powertrain set that includes a diesel option – an option I love – and you have a hot sellin’ winner.

The interiors, however, have always kind of belied the Golf’s Germanic upbringing; they’re usually finished in (mostly) high-quality materials, but they’re often dark and not as high in features as some of the competition; adding these often knocks it out of the comfort zone for many compact hatch buyers.

In this Euro-spec model, however, things have changed, and for the better.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Mk 7)
2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Mk 7)
2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Mk 7)
2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Mk 7). Click image to enlarge

The centre-console and stack is often the focal point of a vehicle’s interior – how it’s finished often influences the feng shui of the rest of the cabin – and it so it goes with the Mk. 7. A wide LCD display with a brushed aluminum surround and new, larger buttons are much easier to find and use so you needn’t take your eyes off the road ahead for more than fractions of a second.

The gauge cluster could still use a little more character, but a new, brighter LCD screen mounted between the tach and speedo is a welcome addition that adds an air of modernity to the proceedings.

It should be noted, however, that the car we sampled during a recent VW full-line drive event was a European-built model and all North American–spec cars will be built in Mexico, a first for the Golf. It will be interesting to see if any quality issues arise in cars destined for our market. The Mexican-built Jetta GLI demonstrates all the quality materials and solidity of its German-built cousins, though volume trims of the Jetta are decidedly underwhelming in this regard.

Ahhh, modernity. That’s really what this is all about; no longer does it feel like you’re surrounded inside by a bunch of parts from the same bin that was used to outfit my father’s 2003 Passat. The way the left-hand vent of the twin central air vent configuration is a little larger than the right hand side gives the impression of a much more flowing dash, as opposed to the sharp-angled and straight-edged affair that permeated VW’s compact lineup these last few years.

It’s not all window dressing, either; the rounder surfaces make for a more roomy and airy cockpit. Rear legroom is up 15 mm over the Mk. 6, with shoulder room up 30 mm both front and back, even though the roof actually sits 28 mm lower than the old model. There’s also eight percent more cargo room than the old car.

The lower roof lends a more athletic air to the Golf; while the old car looked athletic enough, beside the new one it looks rather tall and almost ungainly.

It’s interesting because while the interior got a little rounder, the exterior is actually more robust looking (and actually more reminiscent of classic Golfs) thanks to some squarer lines. The twin creases either side of the hood, the rhombus-shaped headlamps and new side creases mean the new Golf is more chiseled, less slab-sided than its predecessor.

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Mk 7)2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Mk 7)
2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Mk 7). Click image to enlarge

Out back, a horizontal crease across the tailgate and a pair of taillamps that mimic the angularity of the headlights give the Mk. 7 a lower beltline and stance; it also looks less pitched forward than the old car – the rearward-sloping roofline helps here, as well.

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