2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Comfortline Review - You Get What You Pay For

2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI Comfortline
13 years ago, Golf-based Volkswagen GTIs produced 180 horsepower from a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. Over the last week, I’ve been driving a brand new Golf that’s also fitted with a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder. It generates 170 horsepower.

In 2002, you could pair Volkswagen’s 1.8T with a 6-speed manual transmission. Our test car used a 5-speed manual.

Is this progress? Strangely, yes.

• Overall on-road behaviour

• Powerful base engine
• Luxurious ambience
• Interior quality
• Timeless styling
• TDI still more appealing than TSI
• Not exactly inexpensive
• Fuel economy disappointed
• 5-speed?
• Rear seat space could use a boost

The new car makes way more torque: 185 lb-ft at 1600 rpm compared with 173 lb-ft at 1950 rpm. According to EPA tests, it also travels 25% farther on a litre of fuel. Regular fuel, too. The old car drank premium.

Regardless of what the spec sheet says, the new 1.8T is still a very quick car when mated to the 5-speed manual. And though the transmission would surely benefit from a tall sixth gear and feels as though it could use more tightly spaced ratios, shift quality is excellent and the clutch is friendly, with no learning curve required.
2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8 TSI rear
Over the course of a decade and multiple generations of Golf, the greater gains have (clearly) not come in terms of outright power but in overall refinement and the driving experience as a whole. These upgrades are unlikely to change the fact that the wild fuel economy figures achieved by diesel-powered Golfs will still draw greater Canadian attention. Like the well-behaved child who always carries his dishes back to the sink with two hands and efficiently and correctly finishes his homework, but who still sees all his parents’ attention paid to his delinquent little brother, der neue base Golf does its level best but still isn’t as desirable as its siblings.

Audi USA Sold More A3s Than A4s In October 2014

Are times changing, or was October nothing more than an optimal arranging of circumstances in favour of Audi’s smallest sedan?

Audi USA sold more A3s than A4 sedans in October 2014, a serious shift from a year ago when the old A3 hatchback was dead and Audi sold 3040 A4s.

Canada Vehicle Sales Rankings By Model - October 2014 YTD
• Canada Car Sales Rankings By Model - October 2014 YTD

Before we assume this will be the new way forward for Audi in America, remember that the A4 is at the end of its rope. The next generation A4 has already been spotted in camo form, and while the current car clearly remains competitive in the marketplace, it is an older design.

The A3, on the other hand, was released in the United States in new sedan form earlier this year.

Small And Midsize Luxury SUV Sales In Canada - October 2014 YTD

2013 Infiniti JX35
Remove a trio of new rivals from the Audi Q5's segment and sales of the continuing nameplates still increased in Canada in October 2014, though not at the rate of the overall market. 

• Canada Vehicle Sales Rankings By Model - October 2014 YTD
• Canada SUV/Crossover Sales Rankings By Model - October 2014 YTD

Canada luxury SUV sales chart October 2014
Click Chart To Expand
Non-Macan/MKC/X4 sales were up 1.6% in October 2014 despite the fact that these new utility vehicles – plus the smaller Audi Q3 and Mercedes-Benz GLA - were attempting to steal sales. 

They undoubtedly did, but the market for these vehicles is expanding at such a rate that slowdowns were felt by very few of the established small luxury crossover nameplates. The Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti QX50, and Land Rover LR2 all posted improved Canadian sales both in October and during the first ten months of 2014.

The Q5, even with 345 buyers heading the Q3's way, still rose 4% to 772 units. Year-to-date, no premium brand SUV/crossover has sold as often as the Q5, though Lexus's RX comes close. We'll see soon if increased RX pricing and the NX, yet to arrive, sitting below it will harm RX volume. 

Small SUV Sales In Canada - October 2014 YTD

2012 vw tiguan brown
Toyota Canada has averaged nearly 4000 monthly RAV4 sales since the beginning of August, a mighty figure for a progressively more popular crossover.

• Canada Vehicle Sales Rankings By Model - October 2014 YTD
• Canada SUV/Crossover Sales Rankings By Model - October 2014 YTD

Canada small SUV sales chart October 2014
Click Chart To Expand
But the RAV4 is Canada's second-best-selling utility vehicle, not the first. Ford Escape sales slid 5% in October 2014, but sales are up 17% this year. The Escape outsold the RAV4 by a much smaller margin this October than last - 777 units compared with 1769 a year ago - but its dominance was not as all-consuming last month than it has so often been.

Regardless, it's the category's overall sales figures which impress the most. Sales of Escape/RAV4/CR-V-class SUVs shot up 17% last month in an overall SUV/crossover market which rose 15%. They accounted for nearly one out of every five Canadian new vehicle sales last month, more than one out of every five if their six smaller, more car-like alternatives and a trio of true off-roaders are taken into consideration.

Midsize SUV Sales In Canada - October 2014 YTD

2013 Hyundai Santa Fe
GM Canada sold 1224 copies of their full-size Lambda-platform crossovers in October 2014, a 32% year-over-year increase as the Enclave jumped 28%, Traverse sales were up 19%, and Acadia sales shot up 44%.

• Canada Vehicle Sales Rankings By Model - October 2014 YTD
• Canada SUV/Crossover Sales Rankings By Model - October 2014 YTD

Canada midsize SUV sales chart October 2014
Click Chart To Expand
Big gains were were produced by few other three-row utility vehicles last month. The Hyundai Santa Fe XL rose 38% to 429 units, but Toyota Highlander volume slid slightly and the aging Honda Pilot was down 11%. Dodge Durango sales, up 48% this year, slid 32% in October.

The Ford Explorer continues to be Canada's leading three-row utility vehicle, but sales of tweener-sized two rows like the Ford Edge (soon to be replaced) and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport are far stronger. 

Unlike American car buyers, when Canadians think three rows, they're far more likely to pursue a Dodge Grand Caravan than an Explorer.