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The Volkswagen Golf is one of the longest running compact hatchbacks on the road having starting life in the early seventies. Next to the Honda Civic hatchback, it has been around for over 40 years. Currently in its 7th generation, which debut in 2012 and refreshed in 2016, we’re starting to see some wrinkles appear as the aging Golf gets older and older in its current form. However, despite being seven years into its development, there is still something oh so quirky underneath this little hatch.


As we saw earlier this year with the Golf SportWagen, the standard 5-door hatchback sees the new 1.4-liter turbocharged engine – replacing the previous 170-horsepower, 1.8-liter turbo-engine. It’s not often we see a manufacturer contributing smaller, lower performing engines as time progresses, usually it’s the other way around. Seeing nearly a 30-horsepower decrease, the new engine produces 147-horsepower and 184lb-ft of torque. Foregoing performance, some of the swiftness that we grew to love has been replaced with a more energetic spirit.

Continuing with the option of a six-speed manual or $1100 eight-speed automatic, there is no true loss in an enthusiastic driving style. With our tester options up with eight automatic moving gears, the Golf is pretty hasty and spry on its rubberized feet – granted its mostly the boost we feel from the turbo as it takes roughly 8-seconds to get to 60-mph. The new transmission helps makes things feel just as quick with a snappy response time and get inputs by use of the steering wheel paddle shifters. The lack of performance is only truly noticeable once we put our foot down for rapid quick acceleration – the true being behind the Golf is that it feels confident and compose despite being lesser performed. Passing other motorist on the highway at high speeds doesn’t feel lethargic and city driving its showcase speedy sleekness and agile assurance.


Something the Golf will never lose is its enjoyable chassis and sprightly steering. Driving this compact hatch feels more spirited and premium than it should. The ride quality has a sense of affirmation with a level of comfort that we’d see in a higher priced Audi. With uplifting steering, no matter the engine size, we get a sense it’s always happy to be on a twisty road – it just takes a little cleverer driving style to keep the rpm’s up. In return, the loss of performance is backed up by MPG’s seeing the EPA rated for 29-city and 37-highway – during our 300-mile highway jaunt, we saw over 35-mpg’s.

With only two trims available on the Golf, S and SE, the SE seen here grasps a variety of upgrades over the entry level model. The interior is fitted with a leatherette V-Tex material that gives an upscale presence while the 6.5-inch touch screen that is standard on the S is upgraded to an 8.0-inch glass touch screen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.


Both Golf models come standard with Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking while the SE incorporates Blind Spot Monitoring. Our example was equipped with the $1295 Driver Assistance Package that upgraded our little hatch with 17-inch alloys, Active Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping System, High Beam Control, Adaptive Cruise Control and Automatic Dimming Mirror.

Growing old isn’t always a bad thing, some people get Botox to hide their age, but the Gold is an aging beauty. With its solid chassis refinement, upgrade technology and new engine, it’s still a cute little hatch that can make a daily commute a little less boring.




Starting Price: $21,845
As Tested: $27,435


Horsepower/Torque: 147-HORSEPOWER / 184 LB-FT TORQUE
Transmission: 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
Fuel Economy: EPA RATED: 29-CITY / 37-HWY / 32-COMBINED
Fuel Range: 375 MILES
0-60 MPH: ±8.0 SECONDS


  1. V-Tex interior material sounds a lot like VTEC! This design language has indeed aged gracefully. Bravo that it can still come with a manual too. Great pics on this one!

    • The manual I had in the Golf SportWagen was superb. It will be interesting what the future holds for the Golf, its been rumored the GTI will be the only one that will come back to the US.

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