In terms of style, the Golf is like the Porsche 911 of the Volkswagen lineup: although it has changed a lot of over the years, the Golf still looks like a Golf. To get more than 147 horsepower means spending more to get the sportier GTI, which has 228 horses. Photo: Volkswagen

2019 Volkswagen Golf

What goes around comes back around (in better shape than ever)

Talk about a survivor.

Like the Beetle before it, the Volkswagen Golf hatchback has retained its basic boxy form ever since the first one rolled off the assembly line in 1974 as a ’75 model. Unlike the Beetle, however, successive generations of Golfs have resulted in a car that is as thoroughly modern today as anything else on the market.

The current made-in-Mexico Golf initially arrived for the 2015 model year. Compared to the previous version, it was stretched by about five centimetres overall, with most of the gain found between the front and rear wheels. The width also increased about 2.5 centimetres, while a five-centimetre reduction in body height between the rocker panels and the roofline helped give the Golf a more elongated stance.

A minor facelift for 2018 improved on the conservatively shaped appearance that is the automotive equivalent of a finely pressed suit. This is one car that VW’s designers seemed to have scrupulously avoided faddish or controversial shapes that might draw unwarranted attention.

Mostly unchanged for 2019 is a passenger compartment that’s devoid of any hint of low-rent cost cutting. Both the front and rear seats are well bolstered and the soft-touch dashboard and controls would look right at home in more expensive German brands. A 16.5-centimetre touchscreen is standard, while a 20-centimetre version is available.

The Golf provides plenty of space behind the hatch opening for gear and groceries, either with the 60:40 rear seat folded (nearly) flat or left upright. The adjustable load floor can be lowered by close to 10 centimetres if extra space is needed.

By far the most significant change to the 2019 Golf is the powertrain. The previous turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder has been replaced by a turbocharged 1.4. The new engine, which is also installed in VW’s compact Jetta sedan, makes 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the 1.8, that’s down 23 horses and 16 pound-feet.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while an eight-speed automatic is optional. Previous Golfs offered a five-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed automatic.

The reduction in output might give some buyers pause, but Volkswagen claims that overall performance has been only slightly affected. On the plus side, fuel consumption is rated at 7.4 l/100 km in combined city/highway driving, with either the manual or automatic transmission, which is better than the previous 8.2 l/100 km (manual transmission).

No doubt the smaller engine and more efficient transmissions help lower consumption, as does a roughly-90-kilogram reduction in vehicle weight.

Looking for more spunk? Check out the Golf GTI with its 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, or the all-wheel-drive Golf R with 288 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. Either model will cost more (the Golf R quite a bit more) than the basic Golf’s $24,200 starting price, including destination fees.

For 2019, The starting-point Golf Comfortline isn’t all that basic since it comes with air conditioning, heated front seats and 15-inch alloy wheels.

The Highline gets the larger touchscreen, climate control, power sunroof, leatherette seat covers and 16-inch wheels.

The top-rung Execline gets navigation, Fender-brand premium sound system, 12-way power driver’s seat and 17-inch wheels.

The range of crash-preventing active-safety technology — which includes blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection — is available with the Execline and is not standard.

The current trend to utility vehicles means that some automakers are trimming their small-car offerings, but for buyers who appreciate the look and feel of something more nimble, the constantly improving Golf will not disappoint.

What you should know: 2019 Volkswagen Golf

Type: Four-door, front-wheel-drive compact hatchback

Engine (h.p.): 1.4-litre DOHC I-4, turbocharged (147)

Transmissions: Six-speed manual; eight-speed automatic

Market position: Over the past few decades, the Volkswagen Golf has achieved near iconic status with buyers preferring the German-engineered hatchback in all its various forms, including the sporty GTI and all-wheel-drive Golf R.

Points: Familiar styling is always in vogue. • First-rate interior design provides both comfort and up-to-date technology. • Standard turbo engine is a bit less powerful than its predecessor, but with a new transmission it delivers improved fuel economy. • VW should consider adding the Golf Alltrack’s AWD system to the options list.

Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (opt.); emergency braking (opt.); pedestrian detection (opt.)

L/100 km (city/hwy) 8.1/6.4 (MT); Base price (incl. destination) $24,200

BY COMPARISON

Honda Civic hatchback

Base price: $23,000

Attractive model uses a 174-h.p. turbo engine. Type R makes 306 h.p.

Subaru Impreza hatchback

Base price: $23,100

Not as roomy as the Golf, but a low price and standard AWD make up for it.

Toyota C-HR

Base price: $25,500

Fun, funky styling appeals to trend-setters. Toyota’s quality rep is a plus.

If you’re interested in new or used vehicles, visit TodaysDrive.com!

-written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

One of the Golf’s best attributes is an interior brimming with class and elegance. Active-safety technologies, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, are optional. Photo: Volkswagen

There are three trim levels, with the up-level Execline that receives a power sunroof, 12-way power driver’s seat, premium Fender sound package and 17-inch wheels. Photo: Volkswagen

Just Posted

Freezing rain warning issued for central Interior Remembrance Day

Highway alerts in place for Begbie Summitt and Pine Pass

BCTF rejects mediator’s recommendations for settlement

Negotiations between B.C. teachers and the province will continue

Isaac Mack BCRA 2019 Bullriding Champion

Mack wrapped up the BCRA season with $12,484.99 in season earnings.

B.C. debate becomes bitter over impact of UN Indigenous rights law

Premier John Horgan cites salmon farm closures as model, opposition points to LNG, contracts

Indigenous-led organizations and province announce initiative to get North Coast communities off oil

First Nations communities from Haida Gwaii to Bella Bella will be eligible

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

VIDEO: Don Cherry says he was fired, not sorry for ‘Coach’s Corner’ poppy rant

Cherry denies he was singling out visible minorities with his comments

B.C. teacher suspended for incessantly messaging student, writing friendship letter

Female teacher pursued Grade 12 student for friendship even after being rebuked

Disney Plus streaming service hits Canada with tech hurdles

Service costs $8.99 per month, or $89.99 per year, in Canada

Trudeau’s opponents: One gives him an earful, another seeks common ground

PM meets with Conservative leader Andrew Scheer and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe

Rona’s ‘truly Canadian’ ads are inaccurate, watchdog says

Ads Standards points out U.S.-based Lowe’s acquired Rona in 2016

Brian Burke considered favourite to replace Don Cherry

Brian Burke is the 5-4 pick to be the full-time replacement next season

Major donor Peter Allard takes UBC to court to get his name on all law degrees

Philanthropist claims school not adhering to 2014 agreement for his $30-million donation

Most Read