The popular Volkswagen Golf is offered in both 4-door hatchback form and as a wagon, with 2-door hatchback variants no longer produced. The Golf 1.4 T and SportWagen are powered by a 147-horsepower turbocharged 1.4L 4-cylinder. In the hatchback, this is mated to either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The SportWagen 4Motion and the Alltrack, meanwhile, are powered by a 170-hp 1.8L turbocharged four. The SportWagen S 4Motion, SE, and SEL are offered with the automatic only. Meanwhile, the Alltrack S, SE and SEL all come standard with VW’s 6-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission.
The Golf GTI comes with a potent turbocharged and intercooled 2.0L 4-cylinder that produces 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and is offered with a choice of either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission. At the top of the Golf hatchback range is the Golf R. The R also sports the turbocharged 2.0L, upped to 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet, with the sure-footedness of VW’s 4Motion all-wheel drive. Power is put to the wheels through either the 6-speed manual or the 6-speed DSG transmission.
The all-electric e-Golf is powered by 24.2-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that runs a permanent-magnet 85-kW AC electric motor. The output equivalent is 115 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. The car’s range is 100-115 miles when fully charged, and a 240-volt dedicated in-home charger can recharge the battery in six hours. Using household 120-volt current takes 20 hours. The e-Golf offers three selectable driving modes: Normal, Eco and Eco+, which vary regenerative braking and throttle response to either maximize power or range.
Golf 1.4T models are offered in S and SE trims. The S trim includes 15-inch alloy wheels, power-adjustable and heated side mirrors, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free connectivity, an 8-speaker stereo with iPod hookup, 6.5-inch touchscreen with satellite radio, steering wheel audio controls, smartphone integration, remote keyless entry and a leather shift knob, as well as cloth seating with a 60/40 split folding rear seat. Forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring, blind-spot indicator and rear traffic alert are all standard as well. The SE brings 16-inch alloys, a power sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, automatic headlights and heated front seats.
GTIs come in S, SE and Autobahn trims, plus a Rabbit Edition. In S trim, the GTI offers LED fog lights, heated mirrors and 18-inch alloy wheels, while inside there’s plaid cloth upholstery with heated front seats, a cooled glovebox, selectable driving modes, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, Bluetooth, the 6.5-inch touchscreen and a rearview camera.
In the SE, there’s a sunroof, leather upholstery, a Fender audio system and automatic headlights. GTI Autobahn models add adaptive LED headlights and various performance upgrades like a limited-slip front differential, bigger brakes plus enhanced handling thanks to adaptive damping and a larger rear stabilizer bar. Dual-zone climate control, navigation and a 10-way power driver seat round out the selection.
The range-topping Golf R is packed with premium standard features that include a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, HID headlamps, heated power-adjustable leather seats and dual-zone climate control.
SportWagens are offered in three trims: S, SE and SEL, with an all-wheel-drive 4Motion variant also available in S trim. The S trim is configured similarly to the Golf S, with the addition of LED exterior lighting. In the SE, buyers will find 17-inch wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, halogen fog lights, a power panoramic sunroof and a rearview camera. Inside, amenities include a Fender premium audio system with eight speakers and a subwoofer and heated front seats. The top-of-the-line SEL trim includes 18-inch wheels, touchscreen navigation, dual-zone automatic climate control and front sport seats with 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat.
With the exception of a more rugged exterior appearance, elevated ride height, and standard 4Motion all-wheel drive, the Alltrack in S, SE, and SEL is outfitted similarly to its SportWagen siblings.
All Golfs come with standard safety features that include anti-lock brakes, traction control and engine braking assist, plus a host of airbags to protect the cabin.
For 2019, the Volkswagen Golf and Golf Sportwagen drop the turbocharged 1.8L 4-cylinder engine making 170 hp and instead adopt the Jetta’s turbocharged 1.4L 4-cylinder engine, which makes 147 hp. Only the all-wheel-drive Alltrack and the SportWagen with 4Motion all-wheel drive hold onto the larger engine. Elsewhere, the Golf adds advanced safety features, such as blind-spot monitor, rear traffic alert and forward collision warning. Finally, the GTI gets a bump in engine output, from 220 to 228 horsepower. The brakes have been upgraded and it now features a mechanical limited-slip differential borrowed from the Golf R. A new Rabbit Edition has also been slotted into the GTI lineup.
Practical and spacious hatchback layout; available capacious wagon; all-wheel-drive availability; sharp steering and handling; impressive fuel economy; affordable performance; electric option
Few cars have the staying power or instant recognition of the Volkswagen Golf, and the seventh-generation Golf picks up right where its predecessor left off–with even more to like. As a leader in the busy hatchback segment, the Golf is loaded with standard features, excellent ergonomics, and plenty of practical space for passengers and cargo. Turbocharged power gives the Golf just enough pep. The GTI is perennially lauded in the “hot hatch” segment, with the Golf R taking it even further up the performance ladder. Two wagon options add incredible versatility, and the all-electric e-Golf is as economical as they come. Overall, the VW Golf family offers tremendous value and flexibility for anyone interested in owning one.