“The smooth power, along with the good feedback to the driver, plus the well-insulated cabin reminds us why this car has won so many awards…”
The latest seventh generation Volkswagen Golf has been a huge hit, winning the World Car of the Year award, along with the North American Car of the Year and several other titles.
The effort and billions of dollars, VW invested in its small car platform, called MQB, is at the core of this success. This lighter, yet stronger platform is so flexible the Volkswagen Group has plans to use it for dozens of vehicles throughout the many brands it builds. The benefit to the consumer is a vehicle that is lighter, can use a smaller, more efficient engine and, with huge economies of scale, VW can lower the price. The Golf hatchback along with the sportier GTI is available in the market now and very soon the Sportwagon (station wagon), built on the same successful platform, will arrive.
One could be forgiven for not noticing the major changes in this 2015 model but that is the way VW likes to do things– keep the exterior looking familiar, yet radically update the things that are less obvious. The one thing that should get any buyer’s attention is the new starting price of $22,495, which is roughly $1,100 less than the last model. In addition, the base model gets standard 15-inch alloy wheels, heated seats, Bluetooth and a backup camera for a total of $2,000 of additional value. The Sportwagon is sold as the base Trendline, the middle $24,695 Comfortline and the $30,495 Highline, with a $1,400 premium for an automatic transmission and $2,300 more for a TDI diesel engine.
This Sportwagon is a true sport utility vehicle. It has the lower, sportier stance of a car coupled with a huge cargo area that would put most small crossovers to shame. The front seats are heated and the rear seats split and fold. The remainder of the cabin is the same as the regular Golf family, with front and rear passenger dimensions the same except for rear passenger headroom, which makes way for the beautiful panoramic sunroof. The dash has high quality switches and dials and even the base model is fitted with a 14.7cm (5.8-inch) radio screen that doubles as a backup camera. This screen size is a bit on the small side but VW will increase the size slightly when the 2016 model arrives this fall.
What can’t be seen but is instantly obvious when driving is the new 170hp 1.8L turbocharged base engine, that is so much more advanced and responsive, compared to the old, less efficient 5-cylinder in the previous model. This engine has superb mid-range torque and it runs on less expensive regular fuel. It’s efficient too, using 9.5L/100km in the city and 6.6L on the highway. The optional diesel, with 150hp, but more importantly, 236 lb.-ft. of torque is only marginally more efficient, rated at 7.7L city and 5.4L on the highway. Considering this engine is $2,300 more expensive, the new turbo gasoline engine will certainly be a sensible choice for drivers that don’t pile on the kms. The gasoline engine gets a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic; the diesel gets a 6-speed manual or the high-tech duel clutch automatic. It’s too bad both engines are not offered with the TDI’s transmissions. Great news for VW fans, waiting for all wheel drive (AWD), the 2017 model will arrive with AWD in the Sportwagon and that technology should spread to the rest of the Golf line.
Volkswagen held the launch event for this Sportwagon in Texas, hoping for beautiful sunny weather but we were treated to pouring rain. With the wipers plugging away and the radio on, this latest Golf feels all grown up, almost “Audi Light”. The smooth power, along with the good feedback to the driver, plus the well-insulated cabin reminds us why this car has won so many awards. The Sportwagon takes all the goodness of the hatchback and shares it in a slightly longer and more useful package. If you are in the market for a small sport utility, give this truly sporty utility a try.
Power: 1.8L turbo with 170hp, 2.0L diesel turbo with 150hp
Fill-up: 8.5L/6.4L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $22,495-$34,195