Why the 2015 Volkswagen GTI Proved to Be an All-Timer

German automaker Volkswagen has been in the business of making some of the world’s most popular vehicles for decades. Its lineup has seen sensible sedans, useful EVs, practical SUVs, sporty hatchbacks, and more. But while Volkswagen may make some of the most affordable and practical vehicles on the road, it’s also responsible for making some of the best cars of its time, including the 2015 Volkswagen GTI.

The best of the 2010s: who made the list?

Experts at Car and Driver recently assembled a list of the most important cars ever built. Calling these vehicles “Car and Driver’s GOATS – the Greatest of All Time,” these lists contain the most important and influential cars throughout each decade. For the 2010s, Car and Driver selected six vehicles that best represent the decade and its influence on the future of the auto industry.

The 2010s list is loaded with impressive vehicles you’d expect like the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, which became the first production car fitted with a hand-built V8. Cadillac’s supercharged 2011 Sport Wagon as well as the 2012 Tesla Model S that helped prove “electric vehicles can be desirable and cool” also made the list.

Two vehicles from the famous Porsche brand make up the majority of the list, honing the mid-engine two-seater with its Boxster and Cayman as well as the perfectly-built 2018 911 GT3, which is considered “the zenith of driver engagement.”

Square in the middle of the list of the greatest cars of the decade is a more surprising selection, however, that proves the best cars can be both practical and impressive: the 2015 Volkswagen GTI.

How the 2015 Volkswagen GTI fits onto such a prestigious list

Models pose next to a 2015 Volkswagen GTI at the Seoul Motor Show
The 2015 Volkswagen GTI | Kim Jong Hyun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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While the 2015 Volkswagen GTI certainly does not feature the same potent horsepower and hefty price tag as other “GOATs,” it nears the top of Car and Driver’s list for a multitude of equally impressive reasons. The 2015 model year brought a complete redesign to the Volkswagen GTI, marking the GTI’s seventh generation. And while the GTI may have looked a lot like its siblings from the older generation, this seventh generation GTI “gelled even better than its forefathers.”

Car and Driver experts claim that the Volkswagen brand “mastered” the quick hatchback sports car with the 2015 GTI, balancing practicality and fun perfectly. In fact, its energetic attitude, affordability, and upscale maturity helped change the standards for “hot-hatches” in the future. Out of all the vehicles from the 2010s, the 2015 Volkswagen GTI is “the ultimate rational choice for people with an irrational love of driving.”

What makes the 2015 Volkswagen GTI so influential?

Even when Car and Driver experts first got their hands on the 2015 Volkswagen GTI, they were impressed. According to Car and Driver’s review of the 2015 Volkswagen GTI, the redesigned seventh-generation GTI provided “an overwhelming sense of quality and precision.”

For the redesign, Volkswagen gave the GTI an improved platform and a more powerful engine that made the GTI quicker and livelier than ever. It was immediately considered one of the most fun-to-drive cars of the decade, boasting a more-potent engine than previous generations. 

The 2015 Volkswagen GTI proved to be such a successful redesign that the GTI still hasn’t moved toward an eighth-generation GTI since. According to experts at Driving, the 2015 GTI’s “new platform, along with Volkswagen’s commitment to continuous refinement, has netted a car that is bloody close to perfect.” And Volkswagen hasn’t dared to change to the formula yet.

In addition to being a fun and fast car to drive, the GTI checks almost every other important box: fuel-efficient, affordable, and comfortable. The 2015 Volkswagen GTI marked the beginning of the GTI’s best generation yet.