2010 Volkswagen Golf Review


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THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2010 Volkswagen Golf
Engine: 2.5-liter I5
Horsepower/Torque: 170 hp @ 5,700 rpm/177 lb.-ft. @ 4,250 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Tiptronic
Wheelbase: 101.5 in.
Length/Width/Height: 165.4 x 70.3 x 58.3 in.
Tires: 195/65R15
Cargo volume: 15 cu. ft.
Fuel economy: 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway/20.2 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gal.
Sticker: $20,165 (includes $750 destination charge and $225 in options for cold weather package)

The Bottom Line: A sweet car, the Volkswagen Golf offers impressive ride qualities in a small package that's still large enough to carry essentials.

I owned a Volkswagen Beetle at one time more than 30 years ago. I found it to be a decent two-door car that offered reasonable fuel economy, but had a noisy engine, small storage and inadequate heater.

Flash forward to Volkswagen's bread-and-butter car, the Golf (previously known as the Rabbit, Golf and Rabbit). Here is a small four-door sedan with power from a quiet engine, very good fuel economy, a great ride and excellent storage capabilities. In fact, the Golf has more to offer than the old Beetle ever had, at a better price (adjusted for inflation, of course) and with better styling.

The Golf has been restyled for 2010 with a sleeker body that still retains its Golf-ness. It's a small car, only 13.8 feet long. I was shocked by the amount of room left in my garage after we put the Golf in it. We almost had room for another car in there as well (almost).

Yet the Golf has none of the foibles of most small cars. Ride quality, for example, is excellent. Most small cars have choppy rides, thanks to a short wheelbase and light weight. Well, the Golf has the light weight - only 3,023 pounds - but the wheelbase, while not long, is a respectable 101.5 inches. Overall length is also short.

Still, with these compact dimensions, there's plenty of legroom for the front passengers, and the two rear passengers also have decent room. In fact, where I usually have to push the driver's seat all the way back on the stops to be comfortable, with the Golf I actually had to move it up a click or two.

The front seats offer very good side support. While they're not in the same class as a Porsche, for example, they're more than adequate for the kind of side forces you can expect with the golf.

The inline five cylinder engine develops 170 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque, numbers you'd expect from a larger car. I was perfectly comfortable with the amount of power available, and for a change wasn't complaining that I wanted more.

Power reaches the front wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic. This feature allows the driver to shift manually by placing the shifter in the manual position and shifting through the gears by pushing the lever. This was all well and good, but I found such good performance with the automatic that I didn't feel the necessity of shifting. Okay, maybe I'm getting lazy in my old age, but it just isn't necessary.

As a hatchback, the Golf can be expected to have a sizable cargo area, and it does. Listed at 15 cubic feet with the rear seat backs up, this volume more than doubles with the rear seat backs folded. For example, with my wife and I in the car (the usual capacity) we could fold the rear seat backs and have enough cargo capacity to carry Christmas presents to Grandma's (okay, we're "grandma" these days) or enough luggage for a lengthy vacation trip. And the trip would have been comfortable.

We had a "cold weather package" installed in our tester. This consisted of heated seats and washer nozzles. With the first serious cold snap of the winter upon us, the heated seats were a welcome blessing.

Styling of the new Golf, now in its sixth generation, is more aerodynamic and sleek. While it can't compare with the CC, for example, the Golf 's styling is a great improvement over the original.

Interior styling has also been refreshed, and is more user-friendly than the previous edition. Instruments consist of two round gauges for the tachometer and speedometer, with an information panel in between that offers, among other things, fuel economy, a digital speedometer, and/or the chosen gear, if you use the Tiptronic.

The Volkswagen Gold is a sweet car, with a lot to offer in a compact package. It has decent power, very good handling and comfort for extended trips. All this at a reasonable price. What more could one ask?

2009 The Auto Page Syndicate

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