• 2015 VW Golf, GTI earn highest crash-test scores in rigorous new testing
  • IIHS' new Top Safety Pick+ rating requires front-crash prevention technology
  • Currently, rating only applies to 4-door versions of 2015 VW Golf and GTI

Volkswagen's redesigned compact hatchback earned the highest possible score in recent crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The 4-door versions of both the 2015 Volkswagen Golf and GTI are rated Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with available frontal-collision warning systems. The Golf received high scores of Good in each of five safety evaluations.

A close examination of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf test results shows high scores throughout testing. Except for a few Acceptable ratings in some components of individual tests, the Golf scored Good ratings across the board.

IIHS recently made its testing more rigorous by adding a new small-overlap front-crash test. This test evaluates a vehicle's ability to withstand a crash into a narrow barrier, which concentrates the crash's force on a smaller area at the front of the vehicle. To differentiate old ratings from those that included the small-overlap test, IIHS changed its highest rating from Top Safety Pick to Top Safety Pick+.

The highest rating also requires a vehicle to offer some degree of front-crash warning or prevention technology. In the case of the Golf and GTI, a front-crash warning system classified as Basic by IIHS is available as an option. Only vehicles equipped with VW's forward-collision warning system earn the Top Safety Pick+ rating. The technology is included as part of an optional Driver Assistance package.

The collision warning system may not be standard on the new Golf, but the model does come equipped with a standard post-collision braking system. Because many crashes don't end with the first impact, the system automatically applies brakes in the event of airbag deployment, mitigating further damage.

The Top Safety Pick+ designation applies only to 4-door versions of the 2015 VW Golf and the GTI, which is a high-performance version of the Golf. IIHS has not yet tested the more affordable 2-door Golf or GTI.

A few other models categorized as "small cars" by IIHS have also earned the Top Safety Pick+ rating, including the 2014 Honda Civic, the 2014 Mazda3 and the 2014 Toyota Prius. Like the Golf, these models require optional front-crash warning systems to achieve the highest safety rating.

What it means to you: You don't have to compromise on safety just because you want a smaller, more affordable and more fuel-efficient model. Four current small car models, including the 2015 VW Golf and GTI, are rated Top Safety Pick+ by IIHS.

author photo

Nick Palermo is an automotive writer and lifelong car nut. He follows new and late-model used vehicles for AutoTrader.com, writes about vintage cars for Hemmings Classic Wheels and blogs on all things automotive at LivingVroom. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and twins.

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