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Archive for the ‘Volkswagen Golf’ Category

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750995
“The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.””

The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.”

The front of the car has a simple, thin grille opening bisected by a prominent VW logo between the Golf’s two hexagonal headlights. A larger opening below the front bumper strike surface handles most of the actual cooling duties for the radiator.

From the side, the VW Golf is handsome, with short overhangs that give it a sporty appearance. The front wheel arch appears to nearly reach all the way to the hood. There’s a motion to the design when viewed from this angle, the car always appearing to be ready to pounce into action.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750999
“At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp”

The creases along the side of the car are purposeful — the crease just below the hood shutline traveling on to form the sills under the side windows, the middle crease below the door handles forming the car’s beltline, and the lower crease serving to give the Golf’s profile a solid base.

At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp. The hatch itself is cleanly designed, integrating the inner half of the taillights, which are joined by a sharp crease that serves to continue the beltline seen in profile view.

Inside, the Golf TSI SEL had the same design I saw in the Golf R, minus a couple of things like the embroidered “R” logos on performance-bolstered front bucket seats. The interior is simple — some say boring — but I found it purposeful and non-distracting, as I have found most VW interiors in recent years.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750998

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in/mm) 103.8/2,637
Length (in/mm) 167.6/4,258
Width (in/mm) 70.8/1,799
Height (in/mm) 58.2/1,477
Track front/rear (in/mm) 61.0/59.8 (1,549/1,520)
Ground Clearance (in/mm) 5.4/137

Drive Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751011
“All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine”

All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America (the Golf R excepted) are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and that’s no bad thing — unless you’re looking for the best fuel economy in the segment. If that’s your bag, look elsewhere. I saw 31 MPG over a 350+ mile week. That’s not bad, considering the car’s EPA ratings of 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. However, it’s not as frugal as, say, a Nissan Sentra’s EPA scores (29/37/32 when equipped with an automatic transmission).

But the competitors, for the most part, lack the refinement of the 1.8-liter turbo four in the Golf. It has 170 horsepower on tap and a stout 199 lb-ft of torque. In VW’s typical style of recent years, torque comes on early and stays strong through the middle of the rev range, providing plenty of grunt to get up to speed around town or when merging onto the highway. My tester was coupled with an excellent six-speed automatic transmission (at no extra charge) that was admirably quick to shift down when I gave the skinny pedal a little more weight.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751005
“Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways”

The suspension of the Golf was well-sorted. The driving experience was purely European. Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways. Steering feel was better than most in this segment. No compact car I have driven in the last couple of years has steering feel this good. Sport-tinged models like the Nissan Sentra NISMO or Hyundai Elantra Sport might come close, but they are laden with compromises that the Golf SEL doesn’t make.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged and intercooled, DI
Displacement 1798 cc
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Maximum torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM

Technology Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751018
“My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit”

Being a top-spec SEL trim, my 2017 Volkswagen Golf was equipped with a raft of technology features.

Among the headline items was VW’s Front Assist, which included autonomous emergency braking in my test car. Also on-tap was adaptive cruise control and keyless access and start, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rearview camera, and a multifunction digital display in the gauge cluster that handled all trip computer functions and displayed other information like tire pressures and turn-by-turn navigation directions.

My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit with AM/FM/HD/XM radio tuners, a CD player, and USB and AUX inputs. The sound system was from Fender — yes, the makers of guitars — and it provided full, rich sound once I figured out how to turn up the subwoofer in the audio settings. We’re not talking window-rattling, disturbing-the-peace stuff from this audio system, just well-done sound.

One quirk carried over from lesser VW sound systems, unfortunately: The volume seems to have an aggressive cam on it. Adjustments in the lowest 25% of the volume range seem to be much larger than they are in the next 25%. From halfway up to full roar, the difference in volume seems minimal. It’s strange. I would like smaller, more evenly spaced volume increments for each click of the volume knob or each touch of the steering wheel-mounted volume controls.

Cabin notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751010
“It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats”

The technology is nice, but it’s the practical cabin space that really makes the Volkswagen Golf attractive to family men like myself.

The boxy Golf interior makes the most of the car’s relatively small footprint. It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which was plenty for grocery-hauling. If you fold down the rear seats, there’s 52.7 cubic feet of hauling space in this box, which would be plenty to haul my drum kit.

Seating surfaces in the Golf are lower to the ground than some compacts (Nissan Sentra) but similar to others (Hyundai Elantra). As a result of that and my 6-foot, 3-inch frame, I felt a little bit cramped in the front seat as I tried to make some room for my six-year-old son behind me. The dash was pretty close to my knees, as was the steering column. The seating position was go kart-like, with my knees a bit higher than my hips. I could raise the seat base, but ended up with my head touching the headliner before my legs were at a more comfortable angle.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751012
“Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.”

Having said that, Volkswagen measurements show 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 inches in the rear. Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.

There are smaller cars that offer better legroom. For example, a Nissan Versa Note has 41.3 inches of legroom for front-row occupants and 38.3 inches for rear-seat occupants. Where Golf has the advantage is its width, where it has 55.9 inches of shoulder room up front and 53.9 inches in the back seat. Compare that to the Versa Note’s 51.7 and 51.9 inches, respectively.

But no Versa Note, can touch the interior refinement of the Golf, nor can most subcompact hatchbacks. My tester had heated leatherette seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake lever. The doors of the Golf shut with a reassuring, Germanic thud instead of the hollow clank of economy-minded subcompact competitors. The Golf seemed quieter than most compacts on the highway, too. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game for VW here.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751013

Interior Dimensions

Headroom fron/rear (Inches) 38.4/38.1
Shoulder room fron/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Legroom fron/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.5
Cargo Volume, trunk (cu ft) 17.4
Cargo Volume, seats down (cu ft) 53.7

Competitors

Categorizing the Golf for the purpose of comparing to its competition is tougher than it seems on the surface. Technically a “compact” by EPA size classification standards, it actually hews closer to what many of us consider “subcompact” in all but its width.

Its price, too, defies convention. You could buy a base 2017 Golf as cheap as $19,895, which is on-par with a lot of mass-market compacts like the aforementioned Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but load it up with options like my SEL test car, and you’re soon breaking the $30,000 barrier. The tested Golf had a sticker price of $30,810. That’s nearly in the pricing territory of entry-level compact luxury contenders like the Mercedes CLA Class or the Infiniti Q50 2.0t. Depending on dealer attitudes about discounting, a car like the Infiniti might be available at a modest monthly payment premium.

Volkswagen says the competitive set for the Golf is found in cars like the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Ford Focus. And true, with the exception of the Kia, those entries can be optioned up to absurd price levels for cars that began their lives as proletariat family transportation. But of those, I’m going to pick the Subaru to start.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670280

The smallest Subaru gets high praise from those who deal with snowy roads because it has standard all-wheel drive, but for those of us who live in warmer climes, there are a lot of shortcomings in the Scoob.

First and foremost, the Impreza’s feel is much cheaper. Doors are tinny, the dashboard is an expanse of hollow-sounding, scratchy plastic, and the car lets in a lot more road noise than the Golf, which isn’t blissfully quiet at highway speed itself.

Second, the Subaru 2.0-liter naturally aspirated “boxer” four-cylinder engine feels more agricultural than VW’s silky smooth 1.8-liter turbo inline four, and it’s less powerful (152 horsepower vs. 170.) Another powertrain demerit: The Subaru pairs this lumpy flat-four with a CVT if you don’t want to shift for yourself. Most folks will find the VW’s traditional six-speed automatic more satisfying.

But Subaru does offer the WRX to compete with the VW GTI, and the hotter-still WRX STi makes a pretty convincing Golf R competitor for slightly less money. Also, the Impreza offers slightly more interior space, and for those poor souls who prefer a sedan over a practical hatchback, Subaru does offer you that option.

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Impreza.

Ford Focus


2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven - image 659669

Ford’s Focus is an interesting competitor. Like the Subaru, it is offered in hatchback and sedan form. Also like the Subaru, it offers competitors to the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI (Focus ST) and Golf R (Focus RS). The Focus RS is probably the hottest of the compact hot-hatch segment, though it pays a penalty in its rough, noisy ride.

As far as normal Focus models go, Ford has an advantage over VW in its powertrains, where the Focus can be purchased with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or the tiny turbo 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder fuel-saver. Ford also wins a lot of praise for the handling prowess of the Focus, which has perhaps the most European “feel” of any non-European compact hatch.

I’m no fan of the interior of the Focus, with its busy layout and design. Its rear seats are tight. Front seat room is better, but I’ve always found the ergonomics more awkward than the Golf. There’s a lot less cargo volume than the Golf, too — the Focus rings in at a competitive 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, but fold those seats, and you get just 43.9 cubic feet total cargo space. Not sure I could squeeze a drum kit back there.

Styling on the outside comes down to a matter of preference. I find the Focus attractive in hatchback form, perhaps even more attractive than the conservative Golf. But that may result in a vehicle that appears to age faster than the timeless lines of the German.

A definite plus is Ford dealers’ willingness to deal on the Focus. It’s no irregular thing to see a Focus advertised below $15,000 by Ford dealers looking to move the metal. Finding a Golf with that level of discount is akin to finding a unicorn.

Read our full driven review on the Ford Focus

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656206

Here’s the oddball of my group: The Nissan Sentra does not come in hatchback form for America. Europeans are lucky enough to get the Pulsar — basically a Sentra hatchback that competes directly with the Golf.

Having said that, it’s also probably the value leader of the group. If you’re determined to get a cheap compact car that will return decent fuel economy and a low cost of ownership, it’s a compelling entry. It’s roomy, its seat cushions are further off the ground than the Golf (which is no bad thing for those of us who are piling on the years), and it’s relatively attractive inside and out, despite an aging platform.

Admittedly, a run-of-the-mill $20,000 Sentra, with its weak-sauce 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, is far slower than a comparably priced base Golf. That can be addressed by opting for the 188-horsepower Sentra SR Turbo, which also has a stiffened chassis and suspension designed to wring a little more handling out of the Sentra.

In theory, the Sentra NISMO is Nissan’s competition to the VW GTI, but Nissan didn’t give the 1.6-liter turbo engine a power bump. If Nissan wises up and gives the Sentra NISMO an RS version with the same 225-horsepower tune I’ve experienced in the Nissan Juke NISMO RS, I’ll be more ready to compare it to the GTI.

This comparison highlights a quandary in VW’s product lineup, however: The VW Jetta, which is more of a direct competitor to the Sentra, offers more interior passenger space than the Golf, and usually at a much lower price. The Jetta also has a more efficient, if slightly less powerful engine than the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Honorable mention: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - image 704950

Though my tested VW Golf was a 2017 model, Hyundai released its 2018 Elantra GT hatchback update just a few weeks after my Golf test drive. Basically an Americanized version of the European Hyundai i30 hatchback, it may be the closest competitor to the Golf in terms of fit-and-finish, design, and cabin space.

The Elantra GT has an attractive exterior and an all-new interior with a tablet-like infotainment screen standing atop the center stack, mostly independent of the dashboard. It has available leather seats and can be bought with either a manual, automatic, or in the GTI-competitor “Sport” trim, a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In terms of interior practicality, the Elantra felt a lot like the Golf. It had a similar size. I felt a little cramped in the driver’s seat if I made room for my son behind me. The cargo area was ample. Switchgear and door-closing felt solid, much like the Golf.

However, in terms of driving experience, the Golf was the more solid choice. Its engine felt stronger despite being smaller — the Hyundai has a 2.0-liter engine, but it’s naturally aspirated and feels lethargic in the midrange compared to the more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter Golf. The Elantra GT’s six-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired, as well. I felt like a shorter final drive ratio would have improved the Elantra GT’s ability to climb hills without downshifting a couple of times, as it did on most hills, but it probably would have resulted in worse fuel economy.

The Elantra GT can be loaded up to nearly $30,000 with optional equipment that includes a glass roof and a technology package that brings navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability, so it does share some pricing commonality with the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751001

Volkswagen Golf has a long and storied history of carrying the torch for compact hatchbacks, even during times when that has been far from the most popular genre of family car. It plays to a niche of buyers, and it’s exceptionally good at it because it has features that would appeal to anyone, whether they’re “into” compact hatchbacks or not.

As a married, working-class father of two, I appreciate the Golf for being a versatile, European take on the compact genre that also has an approachable price point for my budget. While more expensive than some of its competition, it offers better handling and arguably better styling than most in the segment. It also happens to be pretty good at the dad-car role, hauling my kids and other assorted cargo without fuss.

I’m not sure I’d drop $30K on a Golf like the one I tested — and I admit, at that price I expect real leather, not vinyl leatherette — but lower-trim Golfs are a mighty tempting option for this lover of hatches and small cars.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750995
“The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.””

The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.”

The front of the car has a simple, thin grille opening bisected by a prominent VW logo between the Golf’s two hexagonal headlights. A larger opening below the front bumper strike surface handles most of the actual cooling duties for the radiator.

From the side, the VW Golf is handsome, with short overhangs that give it a sporty appearance. The front wheel arch appears to nearly reach all the way to the hood. There’s a motion to the design when viewed from this angle, the car always appearing to be ready to pounce into action.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750999
“At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp”

The creases along the side of the car are purposeful — the crease just below the hood shutline traveling on to form the sills under the side windows, the middle crease below the door handles forming the car’s beltline, and the lower crease serving to give the Golf’s profile a solid base.

At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp. The hatch itself is cleanly designed, integrating the inner half of the taillights, which are joined by a sharp crease that serves to continue the beltline seen in profile view.

Inside, the Golf TSI SEL had the same design I saw in the Golf R, minus a couple of things like the embroidered “R” logos on performance-bolstered front bucket seats. The interior is simple — some say boring — but I found it purposeful and non-distracting, as I have found most VW interiors in recent years.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750998

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in/mm) 103.8/2,637
Length (in/mm) 167.6/4,258
Width (in/mm) 70.8/1,799
Height (in/mm) 58.2/1,477
Track front/rear (in/mm) 61.0/59.8 (1,549/1,520)
Ground Clearance (in/mm) 5.4/137

Drive Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751011
“All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine”

All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America (the Golf R excepted) are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and that’s no bad thing — unless you’re looking for the best fuel economy in the segment. If that’s your bag, look elsewhere. I saw 31 MPG over a 350+ mile week. That’s not bad, considering the car’s EPA ratings of 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. However, it’s not as frugal as, say, a Nissan Sentra’s EPA scores (29/37/32 when equipped with an automatic transmission).

But the competitors, for the most part, lack the refinement of the 1.8-liter turbo four in the Golf. It has 170 horsepower on tap and a stout 199 lb-ft of torque. In VW’s typical style of recent years, torque comes on early and stays strong through the middle of the rev range, providing plenty of grunt to get up to speed around town or when merging onto the highway. My tester was coupled with an excellent six-speed automatic transmission (at no extra charge) that was admirably quick to shift down when I gave the skinny pedal a little more weight.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751005
“Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways”

The suspension of the Golf was well-sorted. The driving experience was purely European. Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways. Steering feel was better than most in this segment. No compact car I have driven in the last couple of years has steering feel this good. Sport-tinged models like the Nissan Sentra NISMO or Hyundai Elantra Sport might come close, but they are laden with compromises that the Golf SEL doesn’t make.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged and intercooled, DI
Displacement 1798 cc
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Maximum torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM

Technology Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751018
“My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit”

Being a top-spec SEL trim, my 2017 Volkswagen Golf was equipped with a raft of technology features.

Among the headline items was VW’s Front Assist, which included autonomous emergency braking in my test car. Also on-tap was adaptive cruise control and keyless access and start, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rearview camera, and a multifunction digital display in the gauge cluster that handled all trip computer functions and displayed other information like tire pressures and turn-by-turn navigation directions.

My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit with AM/FM/HD/XM radio tuners, a CD player, and USB and AUX inputs. The sound system was from Fender — yes, the makers of guitars — and it provided full, rich sound once I figured out how to turn up the subwoofer in the audio settings. We’re not talking window-rattling, disturbing-the-peace stuff from this audio system, just well-done sound.

One quirk carried over from lesser VW sound systems, unfortunately: The volume seems to have an aggressive cam on it. Adjustments in the lowest 25% of the volume range seem to be much larger than they are in the next 25%. From halfway up to full roar, the difference in volume seems minimal. It’s strange. I would like smaller, more evenly spaced volume increments for each click of the volume knob or each touch of the steering wheel-mounted volume controls.

Cabin notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751010
“It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats”

The technology is nice, but it’s the practical cabin space that really makes the Volkswagen Golf attractive to family men like myself.

The boxy Golf interior makes the most of the car’s relatively small footprint. It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which was plenty for grocery-hauling. If you fold down the rear seats, there’s 52.7 cubic feet of hauling space in this box, which would be plenty to haul my drum kit.

Seating surfaces in the Golf are lower to the ground than some compacts (Nissan Sentra) but similar to others (Hyundai Elantra). As a result of that and my 6-foot, 3-inch frame, I felt a little bit cramped in the front seat as I tried to make some room for my six-year-old son behind me. The dash was pretty close to my knees, as was the steering column. The seating position was go kart-like, with my knees a bit higher than my hips. I could raise the seat base, but ended up with my head touching the headliner before my legs were at a more comfortable angle.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751012
“Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.”

Having said that, Volkswagen measurements show 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 inches in the rear. Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.

There are smaller cars that offer better legroom. For example, a Nissan Versa Note has 41.3 inches of legroom for front-row occupants and 38.3 inches for rear-seat occupants. Where Golf has the advantage is its width, where it has 55.9 inches of shoulder room up front and 53.9 inches in the back seat. Compare that to the Versa Note’s 51.7 and 51.9 inches, respectively.

But no Versa Note, can touch the interior refinement of the Golf, nor can most subcompact hatchbacks. My tester had heated leatherette seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake lever. The doors of the Golf shut with a reassuring, Germanic thud instead of the hollow clank of economy-minded subcompact competitors. The Golf seemed quieter than most compacts on the highway, too. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game for VW here.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751013

Interior Dimensions

Headroom fron/rear (Inches) 38.4/38.1
Shoulder room fron/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Legroom fron/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.5
Cargo Volume, trunk (cu ft) 17.4
Cargo Volume, seats down (cu ft) 53.7

Competitors

Categorizing the Golf for the purpose of comparing to its competition is tougher than it seems on the surface. Technically a “compact” by EPA size classification standards, it actually hews closer to what many of us consider “subcompact” in all but its width.

Its price, too, defies convention. You could buy a base 2017 Golf as cheap as $19,895, which is on-par with a lot of mass-market compacts like the aforementioned Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but load it up with options like my SEL test car, and you’re soon breaking the $30,000 barrier. The tested Golf had a sticker price of $30,810. That’s nearly in the pricing territory of entry-level compact luxury contenders like the Mercedes CLA Class or the Infiniti Q50 2.0t. Depending on dealer attitudes about discounting, a car like the Infiniti might be available at a modest monthly payment premium.

Volkswagen says the competitive set for the Golf is found in cars like the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Ford Focus. And true, with the exception of the Kia, those entries can be optioned up to absurd price levels for cars that began their lives as proletariat family transportation. But of those, I’m going to pick the Subaru to start.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670280

The smallest Subaru gets high praise from those who deal with snowy roads because it has standard all-wheel drive, but for those of us who live in warmer climes, there are a lot of shortcomings in the Scoob.

First and foremost, the Impreza’s feel is much cheaper. Doors are tinny, the dashboard is an expanse of hollow-sounding, scratchy plastic, and the car lets in a lot more road noise than the Golf, which isn’t blissfully quiet at highway speed itself.

Second, the Subaru 2.0-liter naturally aspirated “boxer” four-cylinder engine feels more agricultural than VW’s silky smooth 1.8-liter turbo inline four, and it’s less powerful (152 horsepower vs. 170.) Another powertrain demerit: The Subaru pairs this lumpy flat-four with a CVT if you don’t want to shift for yourself. Most folks will find the VW’s traditional six-speed automatic more satisfying.

But Subaru does offer the WRX to compete with the VW GTI, and the hotter-still WRX STi makes a pretty convincing Golf R competitor for slightly less money. Also, the Impreza offers slightly more interior space, and for those poor souls who prefer a sedan over a practical hatchback, Subaru does offer you that option.

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Impreza.

Ford Focus


2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven - image 659669

Ford’s Focus is an interesting competitor. Like the Subaru, it is offered in hatchback and sedan form. Also like the Subaru, it offers competitors to the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI (Focus ST) and Golf R (Focus RS). The Focus RS is probably the hottest of the compact hot-hatch segment, though it pays a penalty in its rough, noisy ride.

As far as normal Focus models go, Ford has an advantage over VW in its powertrains, where the Focus can be purchased with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or the tiny turbo 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder fuel-saver. Ford also wins a lot of praise for the handling prowess of the Focus, which has perhaps the most European “feel” of any non-European compact hatch.

I’m no fan of the interior of the Focus, with its busy layout and design. Its rear seats are tight. Front seat room is better, but I’ve always found the ergonomics more awkward than the Golf. There’s a lot less cargo volume than the Golf, too — the Focus rings in at a competitive 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, but fold those seats, and you get just 43.9 cubic feet total cargo space. Not sure I could squeeze a drum kit back there.

Styling on the outside comes down to a matter of preference. I find the Focus attractive in hatchback form, perhaps even more attractive than the conservative Golf. But that may result in a vehicle that appears to age faster than the timeless lines of the German.

A definite plus is Ford dealers’ willingness to deal on the Focus. It’s no irregular thing to see a Focus advertised below $15,000 by Ford dealers looking to move the metal. Finding a Golf with that level of discount is akin to finding a unicorn.

Read our full driven review on the Ford Focus

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656206

Here’s the oddball of my group: The Nissan Sentra does not come in hatchback form for America. Europeans are lucky enough to get the Pulsar — basically a Sentra hatchback that competes directly with the Golf.

Having said that, it’s also probably the value leader of the group. If you’re determined to get a cheap compact car that will return decent fuel economy and a low cost of ownership, it’s a compelling entry. It’s roomy, its seat cushions are further off the ground than the Golf (which is no bad thing for those of us who are piling on the years), and it’s relatively attractive inside and out, despite an aging platform.

Admittedly, a run-of-the-mill $20,000 Sentra, with its weak-sauce 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, is far slower than a comparably priced base Golf. That can be addressed by opting for the 188-horsepower Sentra SR Turbo, which also has a stiffened chassis and suspension designed to wring a little more handling out of the Sentra.

In theory, the Sentra NISMO is Nissan’s competition to the VW GTI, but Nissan didn’t give the 1.6-liter turbo engine a power bump. If Nissan wises up and gives the Sentra NISMO an RS version with the same 225-horsepower tune I’ve experienced in the Nissan Juke NISMO RS, I’ll be more ready to compare it to the GTI.

This comparison highlights a quandary in VW’s product lineup, however: The VW Jetta, which is more of a direct competitor to the Sentra, offers more interior passenger space than the Golf, and usually at a much lower price. The Jetta also has a more efficient, if slightly less powerful engine than the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Honorable mention: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - image 704950

Though my tested VW Golf was a 2017 model, Hyundai released its 2018 Elantra GT hatchback update just a few weeks after my Golf test drive. Basically an Americanized version of the European Hyundai i30 hatchback, it may be the closest competitor to the Golf in terms of fit-and-finish, design, and cabin space.

The Elantra GT has an attractive exterior and an all-new interior with a tablet-like infotainment screen standing atop the center stack, mostly independent of the dashboard. It has available leather seats and can be bought with either a manual, automatic, or in the GTI-competitor “Sport” trim, a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In terms of interior practicality, the Elantra felt a lot like the Golf. It had a similar size. I felt a little cramped in the driver’s seat if I made room for my son behind me. The cargo area was ample. Switchgear and door-closing felt solid, much like the Golf.

However, in terms of driving experience, the Golf was the more solid choice. Its engine felt stronger despite being smaller — the Hyundai has a 2.0-liter engine, but it’s naturally aspirated and feels lethargic in the midrange compared to the more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter Golf. The Elantra GT’s six-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired, as well. I felt like a shorter final drive ratio would have improved the Elantra GT’s ability to climb hills without downshifting a couple of times, as it did on most hills, but it probably would have resulted in worse fuel economy.

The Elantra GT can be loaded up to nearly $30,000 with optional equipment that includes a glass roof and a technology package that brings navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability, so it does share some pricing commonality with the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751001

Volkswagen Golf has a long and storied history of carrying the torch for compact hatchbacks, even during times when that has been far from the most popular genre of family car. It plays to a niche of buyers, and it’s exceptionally good at it because it has features that would appeal to anyone, whether they’re “into” compact hatchbacks or not.

As a married, working-class father of two, I appreciate the Golf for being a versatile, European take on the compact genre that also has an approachable price point for my budget. While more expensive than some of its competition, it offers better handling and arguably better styling than most in the segment. It also happens to be pretty good at the dad-car role, hauling my kids and other assorted cargo without fuss.

I’m not sure I’d drop $30K on a Golf like the one I tested — and I admit, at that price I expect real leather, not vinyl leatherette — but lower-trim Golfs are a mighty tempting option for this lover of hatches and small cars.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven

When my friends talk about compact hatchbacks, sometimes the Volkswagen Golf gets left out of the conversation. But it really shouldn’t be that way: The Golf is far and away the best-selling compact in Europe. There are good reasons for that, not least of which is the Golf’s supreme practicality.

Here in America, we don’t get quite as many Golf variants as Europe does. We get the highlights, though: regular Golf, sporty GTI, raucous Golf R, cargo-friendly Golf Sportwagen, and most recently, soft-road-ready Golf Alltrack.

Volkswagen has sent me two Golf Rs in the last year. You might consider those the most evolved version of the car, in terms of overall performance. Fast and fun to toss around the twisties, the R also happens to be the most expensive version of the Golf — expect to pay $40,000 if you want one. But this time, VW sent me a regular Golf TSI SEL, a luxurious hatchback without all the high-performance hype — and it’s 25% cheaper than the Golf R, even though it’s loaded with options. It proved itself to be a great little transportation pod for my family of four.

Design Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750995
“The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.””

The Volkswagen Golf has an attractive two-box design that screams “practicality” without also screaming “boring.”

The front of the car has a simple, thin grille opening bisected by a prominent VW logo between the Golf’s two hexagonal headlights. A larger opening below the front bumper strike surface handles most of the actual cooling duties for the radiator.

From the side, the VW Golf is handsome, with short overhangs that give it a sporty appearance. The front wheel arch appears to nearly reach all the way to the hood. There’s a motion to the design when viewed from this angle, the car always appearing to be ready to pounce into action.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750999
“At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp”

The creases along the side of the car are purposeful — the crease just below the hood shutline traveling on to form the sills under the side windows, the middle crease below the door handles forming the car’s beltline, and the lower crease serving to give the Golf’s profile a solid base.

At the rear, the Golf has a subtle lip spoiler above the rear glass, which shades the center high-mounted stop lamp. The hatch itself is cleanly designed, integrating the inner half of the taillights, which are joined by a sharp crease that serves to continue the beltline seen in profile view.

Inside, the Golf TSI SEL had the same design I saw in the Golf R, minus a couple of things like the embroidered “R” logos on performance-bolstered front bucket seats. The interior is simple — some say boring — but I found it purposeful and non-distracting, as I have found most VW interiors in recent years.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 750998

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase (in/mm) 103.8/2,637
Length (in/mm) 167.6/4,258
Width (in/mm) 70.8/1,799
Height (in/mm) 58.2/1,477
Track front/rear (in/mm) 61.0/59.8 (1,549/1,520)
Ground Clearance (in/mm) 5.4/137

Drive Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751011
“All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine”

All Volkswagen Golf hatchbacks in America (the Golf R excepted) are equipped with a 1.8-liter TSI turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, and that’s no bad thing — unless you’re looking for the best fuel economy in the segment. If that’s your bag, look elsewhere. I saw 31 MPG over a 350+ mile week. That’s not bad, considering the car’s EPA ratings of 25 MPG city, 35 MPG highway, 29 MPG combined. However, it’s not as frugal as, say, a Nissan Sentra’s EPA scores (29/37/32 when equipped with an automatic transmission).

But the competitors, for the most part, lack the refinement of the 1.8-liter turbo four in the Golf. It has 170 horsepower on tap and a stout 199 lb-ft of torque. In VW’s typical style of recent years, torque comes on early and stays strong through the middle of the rev range, providing plenty of grunt to get up to speed around town or when merging onto the highway. My tester was coupled with an excellent six-speed automatic transmission (at no extra charge) that was admirably quick to shift down when I gave the skinny pedal a little more weight.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751005
“Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways”

The suspension of the Golf was well-sorted. The driving experience was purely European. Despite a relatively short wheelbase of 103.8 inches, it handled itself very well over rough pavement and tracked straight and true on highways. Steering feel was better than most in this segment. No compact car I have driven in the last couple of years has steering feel this good. Sport-tinged models like the Nissan Sentra NISMO or Hyundai Elantra Sport might come close, but they are laden with compromises that the Golf SEL doesn’t make.

Drivetrain Specifications

Engine 1.8L, inline four cylinder, 16V, turbocharged and intercooled, DI
Displacement 1798 cc
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Horsepower 170 HP @ 4,500 RPM
Maximum torque 199 LB-FT @ 1,600 RPM

Technology Notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751018
“My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit”

Being a top-spec SEL trim, my 2017 Volkswagen Golf was equipped with a raft of technology features.

Among the headline items was VW’s Front Assist, which included autonomous emergency braking in my test car. Also on-tap was adaptive cruise control and keyless access and start, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, rearview camera, and a multifunction digital display in the gauge cluster that handled all trip computer functions and displayed other information like tire pressures and turn-by-turn navigation directions.

My Golf SEL was equipped with VW’s Discover Media system, which included a 6.5-inch touchscreen head unit with AM/FM/HD/XM radio tuners, a CD player, and USB and AUX inputs. The sound system was from Fender — yes, the makers of guitars — and it provided full, rich sound once I figured out how to turn up the subwoofer in the audio settings. We’re not talking window-rattling, disturbing-the-peace stuff from this audio system, just well-done sound.

One quirk carried over from lesser VW sound systems, unfortunately: The volume seems to have an aggressive cam on it. Adjustments in the lowest 25% of the volume range seem to be much larger than they are in the next 25%. From halfway up to full roar, the difference in volume seems minimal. It’s strange. I would like smaller, more evenly spaced volume increments for each click of the volume knob or each touch of the steering wheel-mounted volume controls.

Cabin notes


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751010
“It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats”

The technology is nice, but it’s the practical cabin space that really makes the Volkswagen Golf attractive to family men like myself.

The boxy Golf interior makes the most of the car’s relatively small footprint. It offers a total of 93.5 cubic feet of passenger room and 22.8 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, which was plenty for grocery-hauling. If you fold down the rear seats, there’s 52.7 cubic feet of hauling space in this box, which would be plenty to haul my drum kit.

Seating surfaces in the Golf are lower to the ground than some compacts (Nissan Sentra) but similar to others (Hyundai Elantra). As a result of that and my 6-foot, 3-inch frame, I felt a little bit cramped in the front seat as I tried to make some room for my six-year-old son behind me. The dash was pretty close to my knees, as was the steering column. The seating position was go kart-like, with my knees a bit higher than my hips. I could raise the seat base, but ended up with my head touching the headliner before my legs were at a more comfortable angle.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751012
“Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.”

Having said that, Volkswagen measurements show 38.4 inches of headroom up front and 38.1 inches in the rear. Front-seat occupants have a VW-reported 41.2 inches of legroom, compared to 35.6 inches in the rear.

There are smaller cars that offer better legroom. For example, a Nissan Versa Note has 41.3 inches of legroom for front-row occupants and 38.3 inches for rear-seat occupants. Where Golf has the advantage is its width, where it has 55.9 inches of shoulder room up front and 53.9 inches in the back seat. Compare that to the Versa Note’s 51.7 and 51.9 inches, respectively.

But no Versa Note, can touch the interior refinement of the Golf, nor can most subcompact hatchbacks. My tester had heated leatherette seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and emergency brake lever. The doors of the Golf shut with a reassuring, Germanic thud instead of the hollow clank of economy-minded subcompact competitors. The Golf seemed quieter than most compacts on the highway, too. Quality, not quantity, is the name of the game for VW here.


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751013

Interior Dimensions

Headroom fron/rear (Inches) 38.4/38.1
Shoulder room fron/rear (Inches) 55.9/53.9
Legroom fron/rear (Inches) 41.2/35.6
Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.5
Cargo Volume, trunk (cu ft) 17.4
Cargo Volume, seats down (cu ft) 53.7

Competitors

Categorizing the Golf for the purpose of comparing to its competition is tougher than it seems on the surface. Technically a “compact” by EPA size classification standards, it actually hews closer to what many of us consider “subcompact” in all but its width.

Its price, too, defies convention. You could buy a base 2017 Golf as cheap as $19,895, which is on-par with a lot of mass-market compacts like the aforementioned Nissan Sentra and Hyundai Elantra, but load it up with options like my SEL test car, and you’re soon breaking the $30,000 barrier. The tested Golf had a sticker price of $30,810. That’s nearly in the pricing territory of entry-level compact luxury contenders like the Mercedes CLA Class or the Infiniti Q50 2.0t. Depending on dealer attitudes about discounting, a car like the Infiniti might be available at a modest monthly payment premium.

Volkswagen says the competitive set for the Golf is found in cars like the Kia Forte, Subaru Impreza, and Ford Focus. And true, with the exception of the Kia, those entries can be optioned up to absurd price levels for cars that began their lives as proletariat family transportation. But of those, I’m going to pick the Subaru to start.

Subaru Impreza


2017 Subaru Impreza - image 670280

The smallest Subaru gets high praise from those who deal with snowy roads because it has standard all-wheel drive, but for those of us who live in warmer climes, there are a lot of shortcomings in the Scoob.

First and foremost, the Impreza’s feel is much cheaper. Doors are tinny, the dashboard is an expanse of hollow-sounding, scratchy plastic, and the car lets in a lot more road noise than the Golf, which isn’t blissfully quiet at highway speed itself.

Second, the Subaru 2.0-liter naturally aspirated “boxer” four-cylinder engine feels more agricultural than VW’s silky smooth 1.8-liter turbo inline four, and it’s less powerful (152 horsepower vs. 170.) Another powertrain demerit: The Subaru pairs this lumpy flat-four with a CVT if you don’t want to shift for yourself. Most folks will find the VW’s traditional six-speed automatic more satisfying.

But Subaru does offer the WRX to compete with the VW GTI, and the hotter-still WRX STi makes a pretty convincing Golf R competitor for slightly less money. Also, the Impreza offers slightly more interior space, and for those poor souls who prefer a sedan over a practical hatchback, Subaru does offer you that option.

Read our full review on the 2017 Subaru Impreza.

Ford Focus


2015 Ford Focus Hatchback – Driven - image 659669

Ford’s Focus is an interesting competitor. Like the Subaru, it is offered in hatchback and sedan form. Also like the Subaru, it offers competitors to the performance-oriented Volkswagen GTI (Focus ST) and Golf R (Focus RS). The Focus RS is probably the hottest of the compact hot-hatch segment, though it pays a penalty in its rough, noisy ride.

As far as normal Focus models go, Ford has an advantage over VW in its powertrains, where the Focus can be purchased with either a 2.0-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine or the tiny turbo 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder fuel-saver. Ford also wins a lot of praise for the handling prowess of the Focus, which has perhaps the most European “feel” of any non-European compact hatch.

I’m no fan of the interior of the Focus, with its busy layout and design. Its rear seats are tight. Front seat room is better, but I’ve always found the ergonomics more awkward than the Golf. There’s a lot less cargo volume than the Golf, too — the Focus rings in at a competitive 23.3 cubic feet behind the second row, but fold those seats, and you get just 43.9 cubic feet total cargo space. Not sure I could squeeze a drum kit back there.

Styling on the outside comes down to a matter of preference. I find the Focus attractive in hatchback form, perhaps even more attractive than the conservative Golf. But that may result in a vehicle that appears to age faster than the timeless lines of the German.

A definite plus is Ford dealers’ willingness to deal on the Focus. It’s no irregular thing to see a Focus advertised below $15,000 by Ford dealers looking to move the metal. Finding a Golf with that level of discount is akin to finding a unicorn.

Read our full driven review on the Ford Focus

Nissan Sentra


2016 Nissan Sentra - image 656206

Here’s the oddball of my group: The Nissan Sentra does not come in hatchback form for America. Europeans are lucky enough to get the Pulsar — basically a Sentra hatchback that competes directly with the Golf.

Having said that, it’s also probably the value leader of the group. If you’re determined to get a cheap compact car that will return decent fuel economy and a low cost of ownership, it’s a compelling entry. It’s roomy, its seat cushions are further off the ground than the Golf (which is no bad thing for those of us who are piling on the years), and it’s relatively attractive inside and out, despite an aging platform.

Admittedly, a run-of-the-mill $20,000 Sentra, with its weak-sauce 1.8-liter naturally aspirated engine, is far slower than a comparably priced base Golf. That can be addressed by opting for the 188-horsepower Sentra SR Turbo, which also has a stiffened chassis and suspension designed to wring a little more handling out of the Sentra.

In theory, the Sentra NISMO is Nissan’s competition to the VW GTI, but Nissan didn’t give the 1.6-liter turbo engine a power bump. If Nissan wises up and gives the Sentra NISMO an RS version with the same 225-horsepower tune I’ve experienced in the Nissan Juke NISMO RS, I’ll be more ready to compare it to the GTI.

This comparison highlights a quandary in VW’s product lineup, however: The VW Jetta, which is more of a direct competitor to the Sentra, offers more interior passenger space than the Golf, and usually at a much lower price. The Jetta also has a more efficient, if slightly less powerful engine than the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2017 Nissan Sentra.

Honorable mention: 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT


2018 Hyundai Elantra GT - image 704950

Though my tested VW Golf was a 2017 model, Hyundai released its 2018 Elantra GT hatchback update just a few weeks after my Golf test drive. Basically an Americanized version of the European Hyundai i30 hatchback, it may be the closest competitor to the Golf in terms of fit-and-finish, design, and cabin space.

The Elantra GT has an attractive exterior and an all-new interior with a tablet-like infotainment screen standing atop the center stack, mostly independent of the dashboard. It has available leather seats and can be bought with either a manual, automatic, or in the GTI-competitor “Sport” trim, a dual-clutch automatic transmission.

In terms of interior practicality, the Elantra felt a lot like the Golf. It had a similar size. I felt a little cramped in the driver’s seat if I made room for my son behind me. The cargo area was ample. Switchgear and door-closing felt solid, much like the Golf.

However, in terms of driving experience, the Golf was the more solid choice. Its engine felt stronger despite being smaller — the Hyundai has a 2.0-liter engine, but it’s naturally aspirated and feels lethargic in the midrange compared to the more powerful turbocharged 1.8-liter Golf. The Elantra GT’s six-speed automatic leaves a lot to be desired, as well. I felt like a shorter final drive ratio would have improved the Elantra GT’s ability to climb hills without downshifting a couple of times, as it did on most hills, but it probably would have resulted in worse fuel economy.

The Elantra GT can be loaded up to nearly $30,000 with optional equipment that includes a glass roof and a technology package that brings navigation and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay capability, so it does share some pricing commonality with the Golf.

Read our full review on the 2018 Hyundai Elantra GT.

Conclusion


2017 Volkswagen Golf TSI SEL — Driven - image 751001

Volkswagen Golf has a long and storied history of carrying the torch for compact hatchbacks, even during times when that has been far from the most popular genre of family car. It plays to a niche of buyers, and it’s exceptionally good at it because it has features that would appeal to anyone, whether they’re “into” compact hatchbacks or not.

As a married, working-class father of two, I appreciate the Golf for being a versatile, European take on the compact genre that also has an approachable price point for my budget. While more expensive than some of its competition, it offers better handling and arguably better styling than most in the segment. It also happens to be pretty good at the dad-car role, hauling my kids and other assorted cargo without fuss.

I’m not sure I’d drop $30K on a Golf like the one I tested — and I admit, at that price I expect real leather, not vinyl leatherette — but lower-trim Golfs are a mighty tempting option for this lover of hatches and small cars.

Disclosure: Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

PostHeaderIcon 2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S.

The Golf line-up gets a humble facelift across its range. This includes the Golf hatch, Alltrack, SportWagen, GTI and the R. Some models get just the cosmetic updates, while the others get changes under the hood. Although they are mere updates and not new models altogether, the changes are significantly prominent to differentiate them from the older versions.

There are a few common changes across the range – the LED DRL’s being made standard on all models, slightly tweaked LED Tail-lights which complement the all-new rear bumper, rain sensing wipers, and automatic headlamps. The interiors get a new infotainment touchscreen, which according to Volkswagen, feature the latest software and react faster to touch inputs.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744062

Kudos to Volkswagen for making continuous changes all across its range. While other manufacturers generally follow a mid-life facelift once in the product’s life span, VW keeps tweaking its cars which not only keep the cars fresh but also invoke customer’s attention. Perhaps, the competition must tear a page from VW’s book (you listening Ford, Kia?). That being said, the changes to the Golf line-up surely differentiate them from the earlier models. The best part is how Volkswagen tries all permutations and combinations – like introducing the 7-speed DSG transmission from higher cars, or trickle down the Performance Package to the standard trims, etc. and succeeds almost every time. Despite being a model that is in production for 44 years now, it still feels fresh and new due to these little updates and upgrades from time-to-time.

Facelift breakdown for each VW Golf trims:


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744058

The Golf hatch gets a 1.8-liter, turbocharged engine producing 170 horsepower. It is mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed DSG. The Golf is available in two trims – S and SE. The S gets 15-inch “Lyon” alloys while the SE gets 16-inch “Toronto” wheels. In addition to that, the SE also gets full LED lights, fog lights, and panoramic tilting sunroof over its sibling-counterpart.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744050

The Wagons from the stable – Alltrack and Sportwagen – come in 3 trims – S, SE and SEL. Not much of an upgrade here except for the LED DRL’s, Automatic Headlamps, and a fresh, new shade of green. The SE and SEL trims get the updated 8-inch touchscreen.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744076

The GTI comes with a 2.0-liter unit returning 220 horsepower; 10 hp more than the earlier version. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG. The GTI comes in three trims – S, SE and Autobahn. All features that were in the Performance pack can now be seen in the SE and Autobahn models (like the tire size, larger breaks, etc.,) as standard. The Golf GTI gets major updates in terms of safety. The SE and Autobahn get the VAQ Electronic Limited Slip Differential, autonomous emergency braking, and forward collision warning. Over and above this, the Autobahn trim also gets Lane departure warning, High beam control, and updated maneuver braking, to name a few.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744071

The hottest of the lot, the Golf R comes with the same specifications under the hood as before; 2.0-liter engine generating 292 horses. But, the facelift now offers the seven-speed DSG transmission instead of the previous six-Speed automatic, along with the standard six-speed manual. The Golf R features special LED headlights and 19-inch aluminum alloy rims called the
“Englishtown” which , according to VW, are specially designed for enthusiasts. Apart from this, the Golf R also gets VW’s trademark DCC Adaptive Cruise Control with Navigation and 4Motion (All Wheel Drive). On the inside, the car gets the new 8-inch infotainment system with VW’s Digital Cockpit.

How much is this gonna cost?


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744078
Golf Hatch $21,760 (six-speed manual) or $22,860 (six-speed auto)
Golf SportWagen $22,535 (five-speed manual) or $23,635 (six-speed auto)
Golf SportWagen 4Motion $24,785 ( manual) or $25,885 (six-speed auto)
Golf Alltrack $26,845 (six-speed manual) or $27,905 (six-speed DSG)
Golf GTI $27,265 (manual) or $28,365 (six-speed DSG)
Golf R $40,635 (six-speed manual) or $41,735 (seven-speed DSG)

References

Volkswagen Golf


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744066

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744053

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744079

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf GTI.


2018 Volkswagen Golf Facelift launched in the U.S. - image 744071

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Golf R.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf R – Driven

The Volkswagen Golf R is not the paper champion of the hot-hatch segment. Others in the field might make more horsepower or put down a faster quarter-mile drag time. That could lead some bench-racers to opine that VW needs to ante up and “fix” the Golf R by adding power or decreasing weight. But those armchair critics miss the point of the Volkswagen Golf R. It’s a solid-feeling, rip-roaring hot-hatch, sure. But it’s also easy to live with on a daily commute — something others in this class may not excel at.

Continue reading to learn more about the 2017 Volkswagen Golf R.

PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf GTI First Decade

The Worthersee Treffen is one of the more unique auto events on the calendar. It’s far from a traditional auto show, but it’s been home to some pretty incredible debuts over the past few years. Remember, this is the same event where companies like Audi and Volkswagen make yearly concept debuts. VW, in particular, holds Worthersee in high esteem because, in addition to debuting models at the event, it uses the venue to introduce apprentice-built concepts of the Golf GTI the Volkswagen Vocational Training program. This year, 13 apprentices are headed to Worthersee to unveil the newest one-off model of this unique lineage: the Volkswagen Golf GTI First Decade.

For those who aren’t familiar with the VVT program, it’s essentially a training ground for up-and-coming designers and engineers. These trainees are given the opportunity to design their version of the ultimate Golf GTI. This year, the Golf GTI First Decade takes center stage as the first GTI concept to feature electric propulsion. While it is a concept car by definition, it’s interesting where these young minds see the future of Volkswagen. Whether an electric future actually happens or not is another issue entirely, but if it does, consider the Golf GTI First Decade as a precursor to what that future could look like.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Volkswagen Golf GTI First Decade.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Updates the Golf Line, But Don't Expect Too Much

The seventh-generation Golf is entering its sixth year of production for 2018, but instead of updating the model extensively or bringing about a new generation, VW decided to provide some minor updates across the whole line. This includes LED taillights and daytime running lights as standard equipment on the outside to go with new trim panels and material options on the inside. Those looking to upgrade their headlights can now opt for full-LED units as opposed to the Bi-Xenon option of yesteryear. But, when it comes to the 2018 model year, it’s really about technology. Entry level models across the line will see an upgrade that replaces the outdated five-inch infotainment screens with 6.5-inch units. SE and SEL trim levels will now get eight-inch touchscreen units, while the Golf R gets Volkswagen’s digital cockpit as standard equipment.

Golf S models will now get automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and a new chrome grille, while SEL models now include 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels and an auto-dimming mirror. Do I have any GTI fans out there? If so, you’ll be happy to know that the base Golf GTI gets a power update for 2018 that brings it up to par with the Sport and higher trim levels. Instead of getting 210 ponies and 258 pound-feet (on premium fuel, of course) the base model will now deliver the same 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet available at 4,700 rpm and 1,500 rpm, respectively. All three trim levels of the GTI still get the option of a six-speed DSG or six-speed manual. (Save yourself the heartache and just get the manual, okay?)

The Golf GTI S model gets a new stop-start feature when equipped with an automatic transmission and a new design for those 18-inch rollers. SE trim gets the performance brakes from the Golf R to go with the limited-slip VAQ differential. The GTI Autobahn trim gets new DCC suspension control. You’ll find all of the aforementioned updates, include the LED headlights DRLS, will show up in the Golf R.

Keep reading for the rest of the story


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Updates the Golf Line, But Don't Expect Too Much

The seventh-generation Golf is entering its sixth year of production for 2018, but instead of updating the model extensively or bringing about a new generation, VW decided to provide some minor updates across the whole line. This includes LED taillights and daytime running lights as standard equipment on the outside to go with new trim panels and material options on the inside. Those looking to upgrade their headlights can now opt for full-LED units as opposed to the Bi-Xenon option of yesteryear. But, when it comes to the 2018 model year, it’s really about technology. Entry level models across the line will see an upgrade that replaces the outdated five-inch infotainment screens with 6.5-inch units. SE and SEL trim levels will now get eight-inch touchscreen units, while the Golf R gets Volkswagen’s digital cockpit as standard equipment.

Golf S models will now get automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and a new chrome grille, while SEL models now include 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels and an auto-dimming mirror. Do I have any GTI fans out there? If so, you’ll be happy to know that the base Golf GTI gets a power update for 2018 that brings it up to par with the Sport and higher trim levels. Instead of getting 210 ponies and 258 pound-feet (on premium fuel, of course) the base model will now deliver the same 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet available at 4,700 rpm and 1,500 rpm, respectively. All three trim levels of the GTI still get the option of a six-speed DSG or six-speed manual. (Save yourself the heartache and just get the manual, okay?)

The Golf GTI S model gets a new stop-start feature when equipped with an automatic transmission and a new design for those 18-inch rollers. SE trim gets the performance brakes from the Golf R to go with the limited-slip VAQ differential. The GTI Autobahn trim gets new DCC suspension control. You’ll find all of the aforementioned updates, include the LED headlights DRLS, will show up in the Golf R.

Keep reading for the rest of the story


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Updates the Golf Line, But Don't Expect Too Much

The seventh-generation Golf is entering its sixth year of production for 2018, but instead of updating the model extensively or bringing about a new generation, VW decided to provide some minor updates across the whole line. This includes LED taillights and daytime running lights as standard equipment on the outside to go with new trim panels and material options on the inside. Those looking to upgrade their headlights can now opt for full-LED units as opposed to the Bi-Xenon option of yesteryear. But, when it comes to the 2018 model year, it’s really about technology. Entry level models across the line will see an upgrade that replaces the outdated five-inch infotainment screens with 6.5-inch units. SE and SEL trim levels will now get eight-inch touchscreen units, while the Golf R gets Volkswagen’s digital cockpit as standard equipment.

Golf S models will now get automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, and a new chrome grille, while SEL models now include 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels and an auto-dimming mirror. Do I have any GTI fans out there? If so, you’ll be happy to know that the base Golf GTI gets a power update for 2018 that brings it up to par with the Sport and higher trim levels. Instead of getting 210 ponies and 258 pound-feet (on premium fuel, of course) the base model will now deliver the same 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet available at 4,700 rpm and 1,500 rpm, respectively. All three trim levels of the GTI still get the option of a six-speed DSG or six-speed manual. (Save yourself the heartache and just get the manual, okay?)

The Golf GTI S model gets a new stop-start feature when equipped with an automatic transmission and a new design for those 18-inch rollers. SE trim gets the performance brakes from the Golf R to go with the limited-slip VAQ differential. The GTI Autobahn trim gets new DCC suspension control. You’ll find all of the aforementioned updates, include the LED headlights DRLS, will show up in the Golf R.

Keep reading for the rest of the story


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by ABT Sportsline

When you have a car that already holds the Nürburgring lap record for a front-wheel drive production car, there’s little reason to expect the car to be capable of bigger and better things. While that may be true in a production sense, the aftermarket world is a different beast altogether. Previously thought of to be improbable are being made possible with the right program and no more is that evident than ABT Sportsline’s newest aftermarket program, one that specifically takes on the record-setting Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport, otherwise known as the king of the ‘Ring as far as FWD cars are concerned.

So how exactly did ABT Sportsline get to improve on a car that already packs 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque in standard guise and a ridiculous 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque in its more powerful “S” configuration? The short answer, of course, is tuning know-how. The German automaker is one of the most respected tuners in the aftermarket scene, a level it has attained after years of churning out impressive tuning kits for a wide range of makes and models.

ABT’s program for the Golf GTI Clubsport is no different as it packs a comprehensive list of upgrades that includes a new aero kit, interior upgrades, suspension improvements, and of course, an engine program that revolves around the tuner’s award-winning New Generation tuning module.

The results on the Golf GTI Clubsport and the Clubsport S are significant. The GTI Clubsport, for example, gets its power up to 335 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque while the Clubsport S sees its output shoot up to 365 ponies and 339 pound-feet of torque. For a hot hatch that already boasts of being the standard-bearer among all hot hatches, it seems unfair that both versions of the Golf GTI Clubsport still has a room for improvement.

Then again, that’s why ABT Sportsline is considered as one of the best in the business.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport by ABT Sportsline.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf R-Line Package

The Volkswagen Golf may not be regarded as a flagship model but it is an important one to the German automaker as it continues to pick up the pieces left behind by the disaster that was Dieselgate. With the model having recently undergone a facelift, the Golf is beginning to exude confidence again, which is likely a big reason why Wolfsburg is releasing a new optional R-Line package specifically for the hatchback and wagon versions of the company’s little mighty mouse of a car.

Nope, the Volkswagen Atlas isn’t the only one getting the R-Line treatment. The Golf is getting one too, and judging by the options included in this particular package, there are plenty of them to go by for discerning would-be Golf owners. Exterior and interior upgrades abound in the Golf R-Line, most of them coming in aesthetic and cosmetic varieties. Some of these options come with aerodynamic improvements too so that’s another pretty important selling point, especially when you take into account one of the R-Line package’s most important attributes.

Essentially, think of the Golf R-Line in the vein of the model’s range-topping variant, the Golf R, minus the extra power that the latter has at its disposal. The Golf R-Line doesn’t carry the same power and performance numbers as the actual Golf R, but at the very least, the package helps the Golf look a lot like its more powerful sibling. That in itself makes the Golf R-Line that more appealing because ultimately, if you can’t add on to a car’s power numbers., might as well just make the said car look the part of one instead.

Continue after the jump to read more about the Volkswagen Golf R-Line Package.


PostHeaderIcon 2018 Volkswagen Golf R Comes With More Power And Better Looks

In November 2016, Volkswagen launched the facelifted, seventh-generation Golf, unveiling all versions of the popular hatchback save for the range-topping R. With 2017 just around the corner, the German car maker has quietly revealed the Golf R too. As expected, the beefed-up hatchback arrives with a slightly more powerful engine and an updated exterior.

Design-wise, the R model received the same updates as the rest of the Golf lineup. Up front, there’s a revised radiator grille with a chromed lower strip that extends through the new LED daytime running lights. The LED headlamps are also new and included in the standard package. Below, there’s a redesigned bumper with a larger opening in the middle and revised side vents with black-painted surrounds. The new bumper gives the Golf R a more aggressive stance compared to the outgoing model, which looked rather bland. Around back, notable changes include taillights with a new LED pattern and larger lamps in the bumper. The hatchback also rides on new, double-five-spoke wheels.

Inside, the R carried over with almost no changes in terms of styling, but got a wide array of new tech, starting with a new touchscreen with gesture control. There’s also a new fully digital instrument cluster measuring 12.3 inches and offering five different information profiles. Other novelties include the Media Control App, which provides an infotainment interface for tablets and smartphones, the Security & Service package with various apps and access to immediate assistance in the even for a crash or a breakdown, and an online anti-theft alarm.

Under the hood, the turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine received a mild power hike. Much like the Seat Leon Cupra, the Golf R now benefits from extra 10 PS (10 horsepower), which takes the total output to 310 PS (306 horsepower). The hatchback needs 4.6 seconds to hit 62 mph from a standing start on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. European pricing starts from €40,675 for the hatchback with the manual transmission and from €44,800 for the Variant wagon version with the DSG. U.S. pricing information is not yet available.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen e-Golf

Unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the e-Golf went on sale globally in the summer of 2014, about two years after the Golf Mk7 it is based on made its public debut. In the U.S., the e-Golf arrived in late 2014 as a 2015-model-year vehicle. Essentially a standard Golf with the gasoline engine swapped for an electric motor and a battery pack, the e-Golf crossed the pond to North America with 115 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque. The EPA rated the hatchback at 83 miles on a single charge, which put it on par with EVs like the Ford Focus Electric and Nissan Leaf. For 2017, the e-Golf received a comprehensive update that added new technology, a new battery, more power, and an extended range.

Unveiled only a few weeks after Volkswagen debuted the regular Golf range, including the performance GTi model and the GTE hybrid, the facelifted e-Golf benefits from the same upgrades as the standard hatchback. While exterior changes are minor, customers now have access to new technology and features, including the optional gesture control function that Volkswagen unveiled in 2015. The revised e-Golf offers better performance, with the tweaked motor and larger battery delivering more horsepower and torque. Also quicker and able to reach a higher top speed, the e-Golf comes with 50-percent more range than the outgoing model.

The new tech and powertrain puts the e-Golf above its traditional rivals, but it’s not yet ready to go against the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt. Find out how it compares with its most important competitors in the review below.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen e-Golf


PostHeaderIcon Volswagen Golf R – Driven

The Volkswagen Golf R has been long awaited here in the U.S. where customers have pining for this Europe-only car to make its appearance Stateside. Now with the 2016 model year, that wish has finally come true. The anticipation is justifiable when considering Volkswagen first debuted the Golf R32 back in 2003. It featured the first dual-clutch gearbox in any production car and had VW’s then-new 3.2-liter VR6. It set the bar extremely high in the hot hatch segment.

Volkswagen has plenty of competitors out there, but the Golf R still holds its own. It comes with 4Motion AWD, a standard six-speed manual or the optional six-speed DSG automatic, and of course, the 292-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Those mechanicals are good for a sub-five-second launch to 60 mph and more fun on public roads than Johnny Law will allow.

At the same time, the Golf R is still… well, a Golf. It boasts 52.7 cubic feet of cargo room with the second row folded. There’s still 22.8 cubic feet of room with the second row locked in place. That means the Golf R is not only fun, but it’s functional. Obviously, that’s the appeal of a hot hatch. There’s little compromise unlike a 2+2 sports coupe or larger, heavier crossover.

I recently spent a week with the Golf R fitted with the DSG, DCC, and no N-A-V. Punny acronyms aside, the car was well equipped, but not loaded. Thankfully it had Apple CarPlay (and Android Auto) so I was able to use my iPhone for navigation. So what’s it like to live with the Golf R? I’ll let you know below.

Continue reading for the full driven review.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen to Reveal Updated Golf in November

Volkswagen has just announced that the updated version of the seventh-generation Golf will make its official debut in early November 2016. The German brand describes the facelift, which is less than a month away, as a “major update,” but gives no specific information as to what the new hatchback will bring to the table. Instead, Volkswagen brags that it has sold more than 32 million Golfs between the nameplate’s introduction in 1974 and the end of 2015, whle also listing other records the hatchback has broken so far.

For instance, it reminds us that the Golf outsold the iconic Beetle in 2002 and that it is being built in five different factories and exported to 155 countries. Volkswagen also takes pride in the Golf being the only car in the world that is available with five drivetrains: gasoline (petrol), diesel, hybrid, electric, and gas.

Pretty impressive, but this says nothing about the upcoming update. So what will change with the facelift?

To be honest, not much. The Germans may view it as a “major update,” but the facelifted Golf VII won’t get more than just a few nips and tucks. If the past is any indication, Volkswagen will only meddle with the front grille, add new wheel designs, and maybe a couple of new exterior colors. More changes are in store inside, but mostly in the technology department, with the design layout to remain unchanged. If previous reports are accurate, the Golf should get the infotainment system and instrument cluster from the Golf R Touch Concept. The 9.2-inch display should also include gesture control, a feature that Volkswagen debuted at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show.

Continue reading for the full story.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf VII GTI Clubsport by Speed-Buster

The Volkswagen Golf VII GTI Clubsport S made headlines in April 2016 for breaking the Nürburgring lap record for a front-wheel drive car when it posted a time of 7:49.21, besting the Honda Civic Type R’s time by 1.4 seconds. It was an impressive achievement that didn’t go unnoticed by aftermarket tuner Speed-Buster, which is now offering a tuning program for the less-powerful Golf VII GTI Clubsport with the promise of bringing its output up to 326 horsepower and 306 pound-feet of torque, head and shoulders clear of the output of the “S” version.

While I’m off the belief that Speed Buster should have developed a similar program for the Golf VII GTI Clubsport S, I can’t complain about what it was able to do for the standard model. With the resulting power under its hood, the Speed-Buster-tuned Golf VII GTI Clubsport is not only more powerful than the standard S version, it also clears past the Golf R, thus establishing itself as a bonafide hot hatch on wheels.

The only caveat to this program is that it’s strictly made up of an engine tune. That means that it has no exterior and interior upgrades, no suspension modifications, and no new set of wheels. But where it lacks in those sections, those who are interested in the engine tune should take comfort knowing that they’re getting a legitimately more powerful Golf VII GTI Clubsport without having to burn too many holes in their wallets.

Continue after the jump to read the full review.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf Club Sport GTI by ABT Sportsline

ABT Sportsline is adding another program to its long list of tuning upgrades for Volkswagen models. This latest offering is for the Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport and just like past kits for VW’s resident hot hatch, this one comes with a mix of everything, from exterior upgrades to performance enhancements that bring out as much as 340 horsepower and 318 pound-feet of torque out of the car’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

As suave as the work on the engine is, the aerodynamic upgrades are just as important. True to its reputation, ABT Sportsline built an aero body kit that touches on all sections of the hot hatch. Likewise, the Golf GTI Clubsport’s chassis and suspension modifications weren’t spared from the tuning prowess of the German aftermarket company. The only thing missing from the kit are interior upgrades, although knowing ABT Sportsline, don’t expect these enhancements to go past the usual tuner-sourced pedals and floor mats.

All told, the kit is what you’d expect from an aftermarket company as renowned as ABT Sportsline. The tuner has been in the game for a long time and it’s with kits like this one that provide a clear example of the experience that comes with having some years in the business.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volkswagen Golf Club Sport GTI by ABT Sportsline.


PostHeaderIcon EVO Pits The Ford Focus RS Against The Volkswagen Golf R In A Hot Hatch Drag Race: Video

The Volkswagen Golf R and the Ford Focus RS present an interesting conundrum for those looking for a hot hatch worth its salt. Both models can arguably claim to being the best of the lot and both make valid points for doing so. On paper, the Focus RS has the edge. It’s got almost 50 horsepower and 67 pound-feet of torque over the Golf R. It also has a smoother gear transition, particularly on the lower gears, making it easier for the Focus RS to get off the block quicker than the VW rival. On the flip side, the Golf R is around 80 pounds lighter than the Ford and that lighter weight makes up for some of the VW’s perceived shortcomings.

And so, when it comes to figuring out which of the two is better, there are some ways to do it, including having both the Golf and Focus RS line up side-by-side for good ‘ol fashion drag race. EVO took the task of doing just that by setting up a race between the two pocket rockets. As expected, the Focus RS shot off the line much quicker than the Golf R, quickly establishing a 0.5-second gap in the race to 60 mph. But just as quickly, the Golf R comes roaring back and by the time the two cars hit the quarter-mile, the Focus RS’s lead drops to just 0.2 seconds, the same difference between the two cars when they both hit the half-mile.

In the end, the Focus RS nudges past the Golf R in the race to 130 mph, beating the Volkswagen by 0.6 seconds. For a car that supposedly has close to 50 horsepower on the other, that’s not much of a difference. All this points to one undeniable truth: both the Volkswagen Golf R and the Ford Focus RS are worthy contenders to the title of the best hot hatch in the market.

And since the Focus RS is finally headed to the U.S., it’s now important to look at the price comparison between the two. Not surprisingly, it’s almost dead even too as the Volkswagen Golf R retails for $36,595 compared to the Focus RS’s starting price of $36,605. That’s a $10 difference, by the way.


PostHeaderIcon Volkswagen Golf R Mk VII By O.CT Tuning

The Volkswagen Golf Mk VII has been around since 2012 and in the past four years, it has evolved into a favorite among aftermarket tuners. Programs from ABT Sportsline and MTM have been released in the past few years, and now O.CT Tuning is jumping aboard with its own tuning kit for the VW hot hatch. The biggest thing about this particular program is its versatility, specifically with the number of engine upgrades that are available, including one that bumps the Golf R’s output to an impressive 450 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque.

All in all, the tuner is offering a total of four engine upgrades for the Golf R. Each of these kits come with its own set of advantages that are created to address the needs of a particular Golf R owner. Some might prefer the powerful version whereas others may be content with either of the first two stages of the program. The point is that there’s an engine upgrade for every discerning customer.

Obviously, some people might frown upon the absence of anything relevant outside of the modifications to the Golf R’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine. That’s something O.CT Tuning can’t escape from, but the tuner knows that already. In its mind, this particular tuning kit is all about extra power and extra performance, and for what it’s worth, it did a great job addressing those needs. Sometimes with a hot hatch like the Golf R, that’s really all the car needs to really take its chops to the next level.

Continue after the jump to read the full review.


PostHeaderIcon Eight Cars That Give the Word "Sleeper" New Meaning: Video

Okay, humor this situation for a minute. It’s 1:00 A.M. on a Friday night. You’re sitting all alone at a four-lane intersection in your 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. As you’re sitting there waiting for the light to change, someone rolls up in a Volkswagen Golf MK2 and begins revving his engine, challenging you to a race. Of course, you have 707 ponies on tap, and there’s no way that German-made box on four wheels can beat you, right? So, you decide to give this kid a beating he won’t forget, but as the light turns green, it becomes blatantly apparent that something is wrong. That’s no regular Golf – that’s one hell of a sleeper with 1,200 horses screaming at you as your Challenger meets its first pair of taillights. Bummer!

Unfortunately, we don’t have that on video… yet. But, what we do have is a video that showcases eight different “sleepers” that will really make you question the next car that tries to race you. For the record, the Challenger Hellcat is nowhere near being a sleeper, so you won’t see one in this video, but there is a 1,200 horsepower Mk2 Golf, a Volvo with a 2JZ engine swap, and a clunker of a Suzuki minivan with a freaking rotary engine crammed into it, to name a few.

Needless to say, this is a video you want to watch because, well, it’s just amazing to see how much potential some of these otherwise boring cars really have. My favorite is the MK2 Golf that is displayed first in the video. You get an inside view of the launch, and let me tell you, this thing hits 62 mph (100 km/h) almost instantly. That’s really just the tip of the iceberg, though, so if you like fast cars and entertain the idea of sleepers, hit play and enjoy the video.


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2007 Ford Mustang GT 2007 Mustang GT premium coupe
$6,100.00 (2 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Feb-24-2018 11:20:35 PST
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1972 Ford Mustang COUPE NO RESERVE 1972 FORD MUSTANG COUPE 111K ORG MILES 302 V8 A/C SURVIOR RUNS EXCELL
$3,000.00 (31 Bids)
End Date: Thursday Feb-22-2018 15:02:53 PST
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1967 Ford Mustang GT 1967 Mustang GT Fastback Project 390GT S-Code 4-Speed Dark Moss Green
$17,950.00
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 18:53:53 PST
Buy It Now for only: $17,950.00
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2017 Chevrolet Camaro 2SS Ex-GM Show Car untitled Callaway Camaro 630HP full GM warranty w/Special Options
$74,491.00
End Date: Saturday Feb-24-2018 11:17:53 PST
Buy It Now for only: $74,491.00
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1967 Ford Mustang coupe 1967 ford mustang project
$1,625.00 (16 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 17:38:58 PST
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2016 Ford F-150 2016 FORD F150 XLT CREW 4X4 LIFT HTD SEATS NAV 20'S 20K #C63587 Texas Direct
$24,600.00 (22 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Feb-24-2018 11:25:52 PST
Buy It Now for only: $36,980.00
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2016 Ford Mustang GT Premium 2016 GT Premium Used Certified 5L V8 32V Automatic RWD Coupe Premium
$13,600.00 (59 Bids)
End Date: Tuesday Feb-20-2018 13:14:03 PST
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2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Coupe 2-Door 2017 FORD MUSTANG SHELBY GT350 526HP 6SPD RECARO NAV 1K #524087 Texas Direct
$37,900.00 (13 Bids)
End Date: Saturday Feb-24-2018 9:19:08 PST
Buy It Now for only: $54,780.00
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1994 Ford F-150 1994 Ford F150 XLT T1273976
$1,595.00 (0 Bids)
End Date: Monday Feb-26-2018 18:17:01 PST
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2012 Ford Mustang GT Convertible 2-Door 2012 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 V8 Convertible 63kmi
$13,751.00 (25 Bids)
End Date: Wednesday Feb-21-2018 12:25:41 PST
Buy It Now for only: $16,900.00
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2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 61,565 Miles LeMans Blue Metallic 2dr Car 8 Cylinder
$26,500.00
End Date: Tuesday Mar-6-2018 22:24:00 PST
Buy It Now for only: $26,500.00
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1972 Chevrolet C-10 Cheyenne 1972 Chevy SHORT BOX RESTORED CLASSIC AIR COND. FRESH
$10,101.00 (3 Bids)
End Date: Sunday Feb-25-2018 18:30:17 PST
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