Motor Trend magazine may have put it best. In a recent review of high-performance pocket rockets, it named Volkswagen the winner over the highly-vaunted Subaru and Mitsubishi performers. The motorheads at the magazine explained that statistics and numbers can’t define something “as multifaceted…as soulful…as an automobile.”
At $17,620, a standard Golf costs thousands less than Volkswagen’s high-performance GTI version. But Motor Trend’s observation remains true, no matter which Golf you choose. Even a dressed down Golf drives with a sophistication and sturdiness unparalleled in its price range. Sure, some of the competitors may boast better numbers on paper. But few of them drive with the confidence or poise of Volkswagen’s Golf.
Available as a two-door coupe or four-door sedan, Volkswagen’s newest reincarnation of this auto classic remains refreshingly true to its roots. In a time when cars are slowly growing (a new Accord is bigger than an old Buick), the Golf still fills the same snug footprint it did in the 1970’s and 80’s. The most recent redesign makes the 2010 Golf as cute, sporty, fresh and fun as any of its competitors.
Golf buyers can choose from an affordable, high mileage diesel model (the TDI), a standard gasoline Golf (the top seller in the U.S.) or the high-performance GTI. Each Golf engine delivers top-of-class performance, particularly at the gas pump.
The TDI (diesel) Golf I tested came with a six-speed manual transmission. I averaged 41 miles for every gallon of diesel on the highway and 30 mpg during city driving. The TDI Golf is especially appealing because it gets near-hybrid mileage, but for a not so hybrid price tag.
My unleaded gasoline Golf tester with automatic transmission (automatics typically get slightly worse gas mileage than manuals) averaged about 24 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway.
While the gas mileage numbers might not look it, the Golf is an incredibly fun car to drive, no matter which engine you pick. The 2.5 liter gasoline engine, which most Americans pick, generates 170 horsepower – more than enough for a little car like the Golf.
More important than horsepower or acceleration figures is the Golf’s irresistible personality. This little commuter’s tight brakes and steering give it the fun-to-drive poise of its distant cousin, the Audi (both made in Germany, by the same parent company).
Whether cruising around the grocery store parking lot or merging onto a busy highway, the Golf is both comfortable and sporty. Its firm suspension gives you the confidence to enter turns with speed, and its capable brakes assure you that stopping won’t be a problem, whenever needed. And yet, I never felt the suspension or seats to feel too rigid or stiff -- a typical problem in budget compact cars, particularly sportier ones.
Inside, a simple, ergonomic interior lends itself to the practical of driving. Mint blue accent lights and solid black components ooze a high-class aura in the $17,000 Golf’s cockpit.
For all its strengths, the Golf is slightly pricier than some competitors, and in recent years some competitors have scored better reliability ratings. Nonetheless, any commuter who wants to enjoy their drive – and their gas mileage – simply must test drive a Golf before committing to a car.
A simple, ergonomic interior lends itself to the practical of driving. Mint blue accent lights and solid black components ooze a high-class aura in the $17,000 Golf’s cockpit.
Each month John Dickerson tests a worthy car. From smoking teenagers at stoplights to cramming groceries and small appliances into the trunk, Dickerson examines the features you actually care about, like how well a spilled mocha cleans off the upholstery.
© 2010 John Dickerson