Volkswagen Biding its time.
Volkswagen offers four different models making between 140 hp and 256 hp, each of which is available with two or four doors. All Golfs feature a dynamic chassis and responsive steering that make them a joy to drive. Other common traits include exceptional visibility and a spacious, high-quality interior that compares well with cars costing twice as much. The base five-cylinder engine is sufficiently powerful but can’t come close to the 40 mpg achieved by other compacts. Efficiency-minded buyers will want the diesel-powered TDI, a peppy and refined engine that is rated at 30/42 mpg city/highway. The diesel model is pricey, though. The top performer is the Golf R, a $34,000 all-wheel-drive, turbocharged Golf that produces 256 hp and 243 lb-ft of torque. It’s quick and planted, but we prefer the less-powerful front-wheel-drive GTI. The GTI is the only car ever to win our top honor, Automobile of the Year, twice. The Golf R and the GTI use the same 2.0-liter turbo, but the GTI is tuned to be smoother and have a more linear response and minimal turbo lag. Buyers have a choice of four transmissions. Volkswagen’s acclaimed dual-clutch automatic has sophisticated computer programming that mimics the function of a limited-slip diff without adding torque steer. And the GTI’s steering is as good as it gets with front-wheel-drive cars.
new for 2013
Volkswagen has already pulled the cover off the seventh-generation Golf, but we’re not ready to pass along the details — yet. You see, the new car goes on sale in Europe a full year before it arrives in America, so we have until early 2014 before these Golfs show up in dealerships. The current Golf remains a great buy, just don’t be disappointed when you’re driving “the old model” within a couple months of your purchase.
Standard features include ABS; front, side, and side curtain air bags; tire-pressure monitoring; and traction and stability control.
Great handling and steering
An engine for every purpose
Mediocre fuel economy
Base Price Range: $18,790–$34,785
DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: 2.5L, TDI, GTI, R
BODY STYLE: Hatchback, 5-passenger
ENGINES: 2.0L turbo-diesel, 140 hp, 236 lb-ft
2.0L turbo I-4, 200/256 hp, 207/243 lb-ft
2.5L I-5, 170 hp, 177 lb-ft
TRANSMISSIONS: 5- or 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic, 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: 92.9 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: 15.2 cu ft