2015 Volkswagen Golf R

2015 Volkswagen Golf R

Episode 3449
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

The MotorWeek Drivers’ Choice Award for best small car for 2015 was awarded to the new Volkswagen Golf family. Primarily because with the TSI, TDI, GTI, SportWagen, and even an e-Golf, they cover all of the bases like no other small car series. Well, it turns out they’re not done yet, as they’ve now unleashed Wolfsburg’s latest pocket rocket on the US, the Golf R.

Regular viewers of MotorWeek are no doubt a little weary of our incessant praise of the new Volkswagen Golf and GTI. If that’s the case, you might want to change the channel for about the next 5-minutes, as we’re about to go all “fan-boy” once again about this 2015 Volkswagen Golf R. 

All-wheel-drive is part of the Golf R’s platform of course, a Haldex system that stays front-biased, but can send up to 50% of corner carving grip to the back tires. But, that extra hardware does push weight to a hefty 3,340-lbs.

Under hood, is a familiar VW and Audi mechanical; a 2.0-liter I4 turbo. And while that’s not a lot of motor in size, it cranks out a sizable 292-horsepower. Plus, a seemingly continuous delivery of 280 lb-ft. of torque throughout the rev band, makes it feel like even more.

This time around, just the DSG automatic transmission is available at launch, and a 6-speed manual won’t arrive until next year. But as you may already know, we’re very fond of the DSG. Driving Mode Selection gets a new Race mode, and you can further upgrade to optional Dynamic Chassis Control that lets you dial in an ultra-stiff ride, should you so choose.

Regardless, the Golf R is an absolute blast to drive. And really, it doesn’t feel much different than the GTI that we love so much until you go heavy on the throttle and let it spin up to glory. 

The interior finish is great! This car looks and feel like it’s worth every penny you spend on it; think more Audi than base VW. 

There’s plenty of room, a simple and effective layout, with logically placed controls. The upgraded sport seats are awesome at holding you tight, but comfortably so; in a Teutonic snuggle sort of way. 

The GTI is certainly no slouch when it comes to the handling department, but here on the Shenandoah Circuit at Summit Point Motorsports Park near Charlestown, West Virginia, the Golf R hunkers down and scoots through corners even better than your wildest expectations. 

Despite a soft overall feel, there’s plenty of grip to be had; as no matter how much throttle you’re carrying, this chassis, can put power in its place, and of course that’s on the pavement. 

ESC can now be fully turned off, but Sport Mode is absolutely great, letting you have quite a bit of fun, before the electronics step in to keep you pointed where you should be. 

As for complaints, this course’s tighter turns and many shifting opportunities had us wishing for bigger shift paddles, as with all of the constant shuffling they were sometimes hard to find. 

But of course in a straight line, leaving the DSG in full auto is really where it’s at. Mash the gas, hold on, and 4.9-seconds later, we’re at 60 miles-per-hour.

The Golf R launches off the line smartly with its all-wheel-drive grip, with a snappy and raspy exhaust note all the way down the track for a quick quarter at 13.7–seconds at 103 miles-per-hour. While a short 115-feet is all it took to stop from 60 miles-per-hour.

On the street, the Golf R is even more impressive. It feels very substantial for its size, with a dialed-in solidity like no other small car. It’s agile and wanting to be thrown around, and is the very definition of confidence inspiring.

Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 23-City, 30-Highway, and 26–Combined; we averaged a very good 28.3 miles-per-gallon of Premium. The Energy Impact Score is 12.7-barrels of oil used and 5.7 tons of CO2 emitted yearly. 

Alas, perfection never comes cheap. In this case it starts at $37,415, and is available in 4-door only. Those numbers may scare away a few, but in this world, it’s the unafraid that are truly rewarded.

So, don’t think of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf R as just a sportier GTI, think of it as everything you’d ever want a Golf to be and a bit more. And really everything you’d want in a sensible sport-hatch as well. If you’re perfectly happy with your GTI, do yourself a favor and don’t test drive the “R”, so you don’t know what you’re missing.


  • Engine: 2.0 liter
  • Horsepower: 292
  • Torque: 280 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 4.9 seconds
  • 1/4 mile: 13.7 seconds @ 103 mph
  • EPA: 23 mpg city/ 30 mpg highway
  • Energy Impact: 12.7 barrels of oil/yr
  • CO2 Emissions: 5.7 tons/yr
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Front

2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35

Goldilocks Approved: It Does Everything Just Right

Episode 4332
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

These days, you don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of money to get some real-deal AMG performance from Mercedes-Benz, as they’ve spread their high-performance love throughout their lineup. So, let’s go for some high-speed bargain hunting in the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35.

You may think of big cars and bigger horsepower when you hear AMG, but this updated 2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 4-door Coupe is certainly not a big car, yet there’s no doubt it packs a serious performance punch. The CLA is not the least expensive Mercedes you can currently buy in the U.S., but it is their lowest priced car, and it feels more right-size than small-size behind the wheel.

It’s a fun, enjoyable ride that lets you know what you’re in for right away with a nice raspy exhaust note at start up. Standard engine in the base CLA 250 is of course a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo, but it is ‘Benz’s latest with mild-hybrid assistance and a rating of 221-horsepower.

This CLA 35 is one of two AMG versions which cranks the turbo up to boost output to 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque; the CLA 45 S, goes even further with a full rebuild to crank it up to 416 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. The CLA is front-wheel-drive based but is sending power to all four wheels by the time it leaves the AMG shop with performance-tuned AMG 4MATIC.

2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dead Front
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Grille
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Front
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Profile
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Wheel
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dead Rear
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Rear
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Badge
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Badge 2
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dead Front2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Grille2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Front2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Profile2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Wheel2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dead Rear2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 3/4 Rear2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Badge2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Badge 2

AMG has done serious suspension tuning as well, and the great feedback that it provides through the AMG Performance steering wheel is a big part of this car’s fun-factor. But our test car came equipped with winter tires, which did hold us back a little bit through the cones at our Mason Dixon test track. Still, it felt both agile and fun and body roll was minimal. Not until we pushed hard could we really feel the lack of dry pavement grip from those tires. On the other hand, a few days after track day, we actually did have some winter weather to drive through and then we were very appreciative of the grip those winter tires provided.

With some assistance from AMG’s sweet launch control, which not only allowed us to launch at 3500 RPM with no wheel slip at all, but made sure the turbos were feeding full power, as we felt no turbo lag whatsoever on our quick 4.5-second trip to 60. AMG’s Speedshift eight-speed DCT lived up to its name, delivering quick and hard hits throughout the 13.1-second, 104 mph quarter-mile.

It’s a fun, enjoyable ride that lets you know what you’re in for right away with a nice raspy exhaust note at start up.

When it came time to remove speed in a hurry in our panic runs from 60 mph, those winter tires again played a factor, as the brakes felt very strong and there was very little nosedive but stops took a longer than expected 125 feet.

Now this 2nd generation CLA arrived for 2020, and for ’24 gets a subtle restyling at both ends. At the front, the grille has been redesigned, AMGs getting their own unique version with big vertical slats, prominent Mercedes star and subtle AMG badge. LED headlights are new, now labeled as High-Performance headlights, joined by upgraded rear taillights and a very aggressive looking AMG diffuser with big exhaust outlets. The back-up camera is smoothly hidden in a flip-out Mercedes badge. Multiple new wheel designs are available with sizes up to 19-inches.

2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Passenger Side Front
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dashboard
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Center Display 2
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Rear Seat
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Trunk
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Engine
2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Passenger Side Front2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Dashboard2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Center Display 22024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Rear Seat2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Trunk2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 Engine

Inside the CLA’s cabin, additional standard content includes a leather steering wheel and 10-inch media display. Both of which were already part of the AMG transformation, though AMG Line buyers can now add some heat elements to their sport steering wheel.

As we’ve seen with most Mercedes updates, both the virtual gauge cluster and the central touchscreen reside in a single housing mounted on top of the dash, upgraded with the latest MBUX software.

Pricing for the CLA 35 starts at $56,100, with the more powerful 45 S coming in at $66,550.

Bottom line, the folks in Stuttgart have given us a 2024 Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 that’s clearly better without messing it up. That’s certainly good news to us, as these days we seem to be getting less and paying more for just about everything. So, while you might not think the new CLA 35 sounds like a bargain, there is no better gateway into the amazing world of AMG performance.


  • Engine: 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo
  • Horsepower: 416
  • 0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
  • 60-0 Braking: 125 feet (avg)
  • MW Fuel Economy: 28.2 MPG (Premium)
  • Transmission: 8-speed dual-clutch automatic
  • Torque: 369 lb-ft.
  • 1/4 Mile: 13.1 seconds at 104 mph
  • EPA: 22 City / 29 Highway / 25 Combined