About the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Volkswagen has done some model line shuffling, moving its Jetta SportWagen to its Golf line. A similar size and a lighter weight define the new model that goes on sale in US showrooms this spring.

Mention the word “SportWagen” to any Volkswagen acolyte and “Jetta” may come to mind. That’s a fair assumption as the two names have been conjoined since the Jetta SportWagen came to the market in 2011.

2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen
2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen (Photo: Volkswagen of America).

Model Line Migration

However, beginning in 2015, the two names have officially been dissevered as the Jetta SportWagen was terminated to make way for the Golf SportWagen. And lest you think that the new model is a smaller version of the Jetta variant, consider this: the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen is slightly larger and capacious than the outgoing Jetta version in keeping with upsizing for the subcompact Golf model line. Further, bigger does not mean weightier either as Volkswagen found a way to prune 137 pounds from the original SportWagen.

Please indulge me and I mention one side reference: where vehicle lines were downsized from the late 1970s and through much of the 1980s — in a bid to save weight and improve fuel economy — today’s vehicles are trending larger as weight savings are realized elsewhere, typically through smaller engines and in the greater use of lightweight materials, including carbon fiber, aluminum and high-strength steel.

2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Arriving in dealer showrooms in April, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is priced from $21,395 for the base 1.8T model powered by a turbocharged, 1.8-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine. It comes paired with a 5-speed manual transmission; opt for the 6-speed automatic and you will add $1,100 to the price. Volkswagen estimates that the gas model will achieve 36 mpg on the highway.

Also available is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine. It comes paired with a 6-speed manual or a dual-clutch automatic transmission. The base TSI S starts at $24,595 and achieves an estimated 43 mpg on the highway.

Although the SportWagen is definitely a wagon, it has the utility of a small crossover and might be compared with the likes of the Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade and the Fiat 500X. However, the front-wheel drive SportWagen has no all-wheel drive variant, unlike the assemblage of subcompact crossovers.

Shortcoming or not, Volkswagen says that the SportWagen has the equivalent fun-to-drive characteristics as the standard Golf, including the versatility that this best-selling VW bestows. With this in mind, Auto Trends has not received a model to test yet, so we will reserve our own comments for a later date.

Corresponding Trim Levels

Volkswagen will market the new SportWagen in six trim levels, with three each corresponding to the chosen engine. The gasoline engine yields TSI S ($21,395), TSI SE ($26,995) and TSI SEL ($29,345) editions; the diesel engine yields TDI S ($24,595), TDI SE ($27,995) and TDI SEL ($30,345) editions. Notably, the diesel option in “S” lines is a $3,200 premium, but drops to just $1,000 with the SE and SEL editions. By the same token, the diesel equivalents are outfitted with the manual transmission — to upgrade to the automatic, you would pay an additional $1,100.

Every SportWagen offers aluminum-alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, a touch screen, SiriusXM satellite radio and iPod integration. Power accessories and air conditioning are standard as are manually-operated leatherette seats.

The amenities list expands as you move up, as larger wheels, front fog lights, keyless entry with push button start, a panoramic sunroof and a rear view camera are included with the SE editions. Select the SEL and you gain automatic climate control, sport seats, and a 12-way power adjustment for the driver. Lighting and assistance options are available with the SE and SEL trim levels.

Advancing the Volkswagen Brand

For Volkswagen, a model such as the SportWagen is imperative, regardless whether it is called a Golf or a Jetta. This German automotive manufacturer has had a tough time in the ultra-competitive US market and needs additional new products to flesh out its model line. And those new models can not come quick enough.

SportWagen photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Turbo CUV: 2015 Audi Q5 TDI Quattro

Medium range crossover combines performance with efficiency.

2015 Audi Q5

The recent arrival of an Audi Q5 TDI Quattro in my drive marked the third of three crossover utility vehicles I’ve received from this German luxury manufacturer within the past year.

The exquisite seven-passenger Q7 arrived first, what serves the full-size end of the segment. Later in the year, an all-new five-passenger Q3 arrived, an elegant vehicle designed for compact luxury CUV shoppers. But it was the five-passenger Q5 that provided me with the best week of driving thrills, by virtue of the 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 diesel engine powering its medium frame.

Quattro Meets Turbodiesel

The 2015 Audi Q5 comes with standard all-wheel drive Quattro; only the smaller Q3 offers with either front- or all-wheel drive. As I have adroitly enumerated in my previous write ups, all-wheel drive is the superior choice — not just for on-road traction, but for optimum steering and handling. Think “quattro” and you have a permanent all-wheel drive system — one that is always at work. In some other vehicles, all-wheel drive only kicks in as you need it. Yes, there is a difference, one best articulated in every twist, turn, rise and fall of the pavement.

The advantage of the Audi Q5 depends principally on how you examine it.

First, it seats five people just like the smaller Q3, but more comfortably so. I like to think that Q3 buyers acquire one to serve two people or perhaps two parents with their young children in car seats. Beyond that, rear legroom will have you feeling pinched, especially as the children grow.

Second, it offers the same larger engines as the Q7 as well as the four-cylinder 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine found in the Q3. Audi, in its infinite wisdom, only offers the larger V-6 diesel in the Q5. And that’s where the fun begins!

2015 Audi Q5

But first, let’s look at what you receive in the 2015 Audi Q5. This model is available in three trim levels: Premium ($39,300), Premium Plus ($42,200) and Prestige ($52,900). Select the Premium edition and the four-cylinder, turbocharged gasoline engine is your solitary choice. All three engine choices, including the “four” and a pair of turbocharged diesel and gasoline V-6 engines, are available with the Premium Plus. The Prestige offers only the larger engines.

My weekly driver was powered by the turbodiesel V-6 and outfitted with all-wheel drive; it had a base sticker price of $47,000. Its total price came in at $55,625, due chiefly to a $4,000 technology package and a $2,300 luxury package. A savory Bang & Olufsen sound system added $850 — that’s one upgrade I strongly recommend.

Uniform Style Language

Across the Q3-Q5-Q7 triumvirate, the styling is constant, although there are some differences. The overall design composition is uniform, with the waterfall grilles on the Q3 and Q5 making for the closest match. Audi’s latest LED daytime running lights arrangement has those lights completely encompassing the lighting assemblies front and back.

The Audi Q5 has a graceful persona with a flowing look that extends from the grille, up the hood line, across the windshield and roof line, and down the liftgate. Not especially muscular, yet athletic, the Q5 moves lithely like a ballerina until a sudden kick tells you that it means business.

2015 Audi Q5
2015 Audi Q5

And that business is symptomatic to the turbodiesel, what produces 240 horsepower and a whopping 420 foot-pounds of torque. Its twist kicks in early and low in the rpm curve, providing an extra boost before you expect it. Be prepared here: you may find yourself tooling down the interstate entrance ramp at a cop-car-pull-me-over speed.

Audi pairs the Q5’s engines with an eight-speed tiptronic transmission. You will operate it in automatic mode much of the time, but if clutchless shifting is your fixation, then have at it. Personally, I want the real deal — give me a true manual gearbox and the attendant clutch pedal — maybe not in a utility vehicle, but definitely in a sport sedan or coupe.

With a utility vehicle, you will also have at least some pitching and rolling as you navigate the twists and turns. The Audi Q5 makes short work of it all as it hugs the corners and navigates its turns with authority. No, you are not driving a low-slung sport coupe, but you are accessing one crossover that has fun factored in. Just be certain that the kiddies are tightly buckled in back there!

2015 Audi Q5 TDI Quattro

View manufacturer details and pricing

2015 Audi Q5

Polished, Luxuriant Cabin

Inside, you enjoy the anticipated Audi craftsmanship that this brand exemplifies. And with an uncluttered dashboard at that.

The instrument panel features two large analog displays —odometer and speedometer — and two much smaller analog displays for oil pressure and fuel. Strategically centered is the digital driver’s information center, what you control with a steering-wheel mounted switch.

The center console has the requisite display and, notably, Audi seems to be moving away from the unit that either was fixed to the top of the instrument panel or quickly emerged once the ignition was activated. No matter, the look is a clean one, with orange and white lettering on the blackest of backgrounds. You govern the panel with a knob situated between the seats.

Underneath the display are vents, a multimedia system and switches for the climate control system, including heating and cooling switches for the front seats.

2015 Audi Q5

Connectivity Issues and an App

Audi still does not make it easy to connect some smartphones for recharging purposes. Specifically, you must have the correct cable connection, but that just does not work out for me. However that may change as Audi, new for 2015, released an “Audi MMI connect App” to sync directly with the available MMI navigation system. For example, the app ties in with the owner’s myAudi account to stream music, to help you find where your car is parked and provide destination support. Given that I do not have an account, I did not test it.

I have yet to meet an Audi that failed on the fit and finish front — each model is a mark of impeccable craftsmanship, with a tasteful fusion of authentic dark brown wood inlays, chic aluminum trim, Milano leather seating and choice soft touch materials. Drive this model at night and the interior is peppered with red highlights —easy on the eyes, but enchanting nonetheless.

Audi provides a crossover that comes well equipped. Every model is outfitted with three-zone climate control, power accessories, a tilt and telescopic steering column, a rear cargo cover, four 12-volt outlets, ambient lighting, leather touches and four cup holders and four bottle holders.

2015 Audi Q5

Move up to the Premium Plus and procure keyless entry and push button start and stop, heated front seats and a panoramic sunroof. The Prestige edition extends the luxury quotient to its zenith by bringing in adaptive xenon plus headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, MMI navigation, manual rear sunshades, parking assist and a rear view camera.

Additional Crossover Considerations

Beyond the Q triad, Audi does offer other crossovers for your consideration, including a hybrid variant of this very same Q5. Yet another variant, the SQ5, brings optimum performance to the line with the specialized styling befitting a sport edition. Consequently, you may find yourself wrestling with your choices as nearly every utility vehicle niche has been filled by Audi.
2015 Audi Q5

2015 Audi Q5 TDI Quattro

  • Sticker price from $47,000
  • Price as tested: from $55,625
  • Seats 5 occupants
  • 3.0-liter 24-valve V-6 turbodiesel engine
  • 240 horsepower @ 3,750 to 4,000 rpm
  • 428 foot-pounds of torque @ 1,750 to 2,250 rpm
  • 3.27 inches bore by 3.60 inches stroke
  • Engine compression ratio: 16:8-to-1
  • 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Wheelbase: 110.5 inches
  • Length: 182.6 inches
  • Width: 74.7 inches
  • Height: 65.2 inches
  • Passenger volume: 101.5 cubic feet
  • Storage volume: 29.1/57.3 cubic feet
  • Towing capacity: 4,400 pounds
  • EPA: 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway
  • Diesel fuel
  • Fuel tank: 19.8 gallons
  • Curb weight: From 4,475 pounds
  • IIHS safety rating: Good
  • Limited vehicle warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles
  • Corrosion warranty: 12 years/Unlimited miles
  • Vehicle assembly: Ingolstadt, Germany

2015 Audi Q5 photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine.