VW GTI Wins Yahoo!’s Auto of the Year 2015

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2014 VW GTI

What do the Volkswagen GTI, Tesla Model S and Corvette Stingray have in common? They’re all recent winners of the Yahoo! Auto of the Year award. However, Yahoo! admits that in 2013 and 2014, the winners were chosen from a close pack of contestants. For 2015, though, the year dished up a lot of new models, “yet not one had emerged as the front runner by the time we assembled in California” in October. That is, until the latest VW GTI came along.

In order to scoop up the lofty Yahoo! title, a series of challenging tests need to be passed. It includes hundreds of miles on a state of the art autocross course. Everything that has a hinge is opened and closed, says Yahoo!, and factors ranging from how well cars perform as commuter machines to the quality of the fabric and level of horsepower are assessed. Among the runners-up are the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, Ford Mustang EcoBoost and the Chevy Camaro X28.

A Volkswagen enthusiast could have saved Yahoo! a lot of time, trouble and testing—nothing compares to the GTI.

And the Winner Is…

In the end, the editors didn’t all decide on the same ride as the winner, but only the GTI appeared at the top of every single judge’s list, “proving itself worthy of our highest endorsement.” The major five categories that the GTI passed with flying colors included value, engineering, performance, design and efficiency. While the categories are assessed individually, Yahoo! is even more concerned with seeing how they work as a system. “A car has to be among the best in its breed before it can compete for the top prize,” says managing editor Justin Hyde.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder the GTI took home the gold (at least the 2015 model). With 40 years of history, the hatchback wasn’t always a fan favorite. Hyde says, “A lot of people who were attracted to the GTI over the years would walk away because it was too small, too expensive or too European for them. This 2015 edition should make them reconsider.”

The Makings of a Winner

Does the GTI have what it takes to win you over? It’s built on the latest MQB chassis and it’s lower, lighter and longer than ever before. This means more interior cargo space, which is more than the 2014 Mazda3 (another Yahoo! favorite). Those updated dimensions make it gorgeous on the outside, while on the inside there’s “Audi-level refinement” according to judge Steve Siler.

And as for power? There’s a 2-liter turbo, four cylinder engine under the hood with 210 horsepower. It’s made for speed, power and of course looks—everything a Yahoo! Auto of the Year winner demands. The downside? It’s not going to fit under any holiday tree (but it looks fantastic with a big red bow in the driveway).

Freeze! Volkswagen’s Popular Police Cars

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VW Police Car

A Passat or Beetle trumps the Crown Vic any day of the year as the ultimate police car. While it might not be what you imagine when you think “cop car,” a number of cities around the country are choosing VWs as their cruisers. Just take a look at Belle Meade, Tennessee, who started the trend—they were the first city in the country to opt for Passats as their full-time patrol vehicles. The main reason? Much better gas mileage.

Plus, with the Chattanooga plant not far away, it just made sense for the police to support local. According to Sergeant Teddy Murphy, “It really has far exceeded our expectations. Some people admire it and say, ‘Wow, when did they start making those?’” Unlike the Vics and Chargers of past eras, there’s no V8 in the Passat but rather a turbo diesel and four cylinders that won’t leave you wanting more horsepower. However, the gas mileage is where it’s a real winner with Murphy explaining, “we did a gas mileage test, here to Florence, Alabama on the Natchez Trace, 200-something miles and we got 52 miles to a gallon.”

Jet(ta) Setting to Protect and Serve

Belle Meade isn’t the only city to enjoy new police cars. Volkswagen gifted two Jetta Sportwagen TDIs to the Hamilton County and Chattanooga police when the plant was first built. However, they were specially designed to look just as good as they drove. Kitted out in chrome exhaust tips with full body kits, VW said it offered an “imposing presence” along with customized interiors. Who says police don’t deserve a little protection and service themselves?

Beetles Take Flight

Then of course there’s the Beetle turned cop car—or the bug with a bite as speeders learn too late. They’re the car of choice for police in Tigard, Oregon but proved handy in an impromptu police chase in Carter County, Indiana, too. When Deputy Shane Watson was leaving the courthouse on police business, he was notified of a stolen pickup. However, he had driven his own car to court—a Beetle—which quickly caught up with the perp.

Luckily, he kept his lights and siren in the Beetle, but the driver of the stolen truck didn’t slow down. Watson swerved around her, blocking her path with the Volkswagen in essence offering the ultimate sacrifice: His prized VW in exchange for the truck. Fortunately she stopped just in time and during the arrest he found half a liter of vodka with her.

With German engineering, incredible safety ratings and unbeatable gas mileage, it might be time for drivers to start learning new headlights that creep up behind them. Volkswagens: Coming to a police department near you.