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2019 Volkswagen 1215 Golf SportWagen 31924 403642
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Introduction

The 2019 Volkswagen Golf family of hatchbacks and wagons has a model for most tastes. The compact Golf ranges from mild to wild in performance, with the Golf GTI marking the hot end of the spectrum.

Last redesigned as a 2015 model, the Golf substitutes a 1.4-liter turbo-4 engine for the previous 1.8-liter in all hatchbacks, as well as front-drive SportWagens. The 1.8-liter version remains in all-wheel-drive wagons, including the Alltrack.

For 2019, the Golf SE is now available with a Driver Assistance package that includes adaptive cruise control, active lane control, automatic high-beams, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Golf S gains forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

Hatchbacks and SportWagens are offered in S and SE trim levels. Alltrack wagons add an SEL variant. Four GTI versions are offered.

The new 1.4-liter turbo-4 engine is rated at 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, driving either a slick-shifting 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive SportWagens and all Alltracks keep the 168-horsepower, 1.8-liter turbo-4.

In Golf GTI models, the 2.0-liter turbo-4 gets an 8-hp boost to 228 horsepower. The Golf R reaches all the way into performance with its 288-horsepower turbo-four, sending 280 pound-feet of torque to the ground through standard all-wheel drive. GTI and Golf R models can have a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Volkswagen’s battery-powered e-Golf can travel about 125 miles on a full charge. A 35.8-kwh lithium-ion battery pack works with an electric motor that develops 134 horsepower and 214 pound-feet of torque. At a DC fast-charging station, the battery can charge to about 80 percent within an hour.

The Golf has performed well in crash-testing. The IIHS rated the 2019 model “Good” in each test, except “Acceptable” in the small-overlap test on the passenger’s side. The NHTSA gave Golf a five-star rating overall and for side-impact, and four stars for frontal impact and for rollover prevention (a calculated figure).

Nearly all versions now come with collision-avoidance active-safety technology, including forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. Those features are available in a $450 Driver Assistance package for other Golf models.

Model Lineup

Prices do not include $895 destination charge.

1.4T S Hatchback ($21,845 with manual, $22,945 with automatic) includes air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, cloth seat upholstery, a 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth, blind-spot monitors, forward-collision warnings, and automatic emergency braking.

1.4T SE Hatchback ($24,145 with manual, $25,245 with automatic) adds synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, keyless ignition, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, 16-inch wheels, and panoramic sunroof.

 

1.4T Golf S SportWagen ($21,895 with manual, $22,995 with automatic) is similar to the S hatchback, with 1.4-liter engine and front-drive, but with the wagon body. Standard features include LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen. Active-safety technology (blind-spot monitors, automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alerts) is a $450 option.

1.8T Golf S SportWagen with AWD ($24,395 with manual, $25,495 with automatic) substitutes a 1.8-liter engine and all-wheel drive.

1.8T Golf SE SportWagen with AWD ($29,995 with automatic) adds a suite of active-safety features, including forward-collision warnings, automatic emergency braking, active blind-spot monitors, and adaptive cruise control.

 

1.8T Golf Alltrack S with AWD ($26,895 with manual, $27,995 with DSG automatic) builds upon the SportWagen S, with all-wheel drive, synthetic leather seat upholstery, heated front seats, 6.5-inch touchscreen, and 17-inch wheels. Active-safety technology includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, along with blind-spot monitors.

1.8T Golf Alltrack SE with AWD ($30,495 with manual, $31,595 with DSG) adds a larger (8.0-inch) touchscreen, satellite radio, and keyless ignition.

1.8T Golf Alltrack SEL with AWD ($34,995 with manual, $36,095 with DSG) adds navigation, dual-zone climate control, 12-way power driver’s seat, 18-inch wheels, and adaptive cruise control.

 

2.0T GTI S Hatchback ($27,595 with manual, $28,695 with DSG dual-clutch automatic) gets the 228-hp engine and comes with cloth seat upholstery, heated front seats, a 6.5-inch touchscreen, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The Driver Assistance package with active-safety technology costs $450.

2.0T GTI Rabbit Edition Hatchback ($28,895 with manual, $29,995 with DSG), the new limited-edition “heritage” model, includes LED headlights, black 18-inch wheels, black rear spoiler, red-stitched floor mats, and active-safety technology.

2.0 GTI SE Hatchback ($31,795 with manual, $32,895 with DSG) adds leather seating surfaces, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, sunroof, and satellite radio. The Driver Assistance group, with active-safety technology, is standard.

2.0 GTI Autobahn ($35,995 with manual, $37,095 with DSG) adds a 12-way power driver’s seat with power recline, dual-zone climate control, keyless ignition, navigation, Fender audio, navigation, and adaptive cruise control.

 

2.0 Golf R Hatchback ($40,395 with manual, $41,495 with dual-clutch automatic), the top performance model, comes with the 288-hp engine, leather upholstery, a performance monitor, adaptive LED headlights, 19-inch wheels, digital instrument cluster, suite of active-safety features, and Fender premium audio.

 

e-Golf SE Hatchback ($31,895) is battery-powered, with 7.2-kw onboard charger, DC fast-charging capability, cloth upholstery, 8.0-inch touchscreen, exclusive bumpers and grille, and roof spoiler.

e-Golf SEL Premium Hatchback ($38,895) gets a 9.2-inch touchscreen with navigation, synthetic leather upholstery, and LED headlights. Safety features include automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane assist, and parking assist.

Walkaround

Golfs come in two distinct four-door body styles: hatchback and wagon. Sharp lines take precedence over curvy surfaces, conveying a conservative appearance that should age nicely.

GTI hatchbacks get trimmed with shiny black and red elements, and get performance tires on 18-inch wheels. The Golf R, despite 19-inch rubber, sits even lower. Aerodynamic wheels on the e-Golf are the primary difference from regular gasoline models.

SportWagens look like elongated Golf hatchbacks. Long roofs help give each wagon balanced proportions, as well as greater utility. Unpainted plastic fender flares on Alltrack wagons give a hint of outdoorsy and rugged intentions.

Interior

Sophisticated and comfortable, the cabin makes good use of the Golf’s relatively small footprint on the pavement. Regardless of engine, any Golf is a sensible choice for utility and passenger ease.

Front seats adjust eight ways ΓÇô a feature absent from some costlier cars. Both seats in the Golf R provide 12-way power adjustment. Rear seats are less roomy, but a relatively high roofline and wide-opening doors ensure satisfying accommodations for passengers.

Seats are upholstered with tough, grippy fabric or easy-clean synthetic leather. Only the Golf R gets genuine leather (optional for GTI).

On the businesslike dashboard, controls are grouped below a clear, responsive 6.5- or 8.0-inch touchscreen that offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Infotainment software ranks above average.

Cargo utility excels. Hatchbacks have about 23 cubic feet of cargo volume with rear seatbacks upright, growing to 53 cubic feet with the split-folding bench folded flat. SportWagens and Alltracks go further: 30 cubic feet with seatbacks upright and 66.5 cubic feet when folded.

Driving Impressions

More than most cars, Golfs come in versions to suit nearly everyone ΓÇô from frugal to fiery. Ride comfort and handling talents are admirable. Golf GTIs and the Golf R add strong engines to the mix.

Hatchbacks and wagons deliver a plush, composed ride. Steering is light, but accurate. In any form, Golfs deliver an enjoyable drive with superior highway stability.

Volkswagen’s new 1.4-liter engine, also used in related Jetta sedans, delivers adequate performance. The 1.8-liter turbo-4 is particularly impressive, providing great thrust when starting off ΓÇô helped by an easy-shifting manual transmission. The automatic is just about as satisfying.

Alltrack models sit less than an inch higher off the ground than a regular SportWagen, and aren’t really intended for off-roading, but their all-weather capability is worth it.

GTI hatchbacks are remarkably balanced, considering their abundant power. The 228-horsepower turbo-4 provides excellent thrust with minimal turbo lag. Greater steering heft and distinct suspension settings can make an ordinary commute fun. Despite low-profile 18-inch tires, GTIs aren’t excessively stiff. The Golf R delivers impressive but controllable performance that’s more track-ready than the GTI.

Driving an e-Golf differs little from other Golfs, accelerating instantly and silently. The electric Golf reaches highway speed with enough reserve power for effective passing, though sustained cruising can drain its battery rather quickly. Driving range has fallen well behind some electric rivals, including the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf.

Most Golfs are comparatively fuel-efficient. With either manual or automatic, the 1.4-liter hatchback and SportWagen are EPA-rated at 29/37 mpg City/Highway, 32 Combined. Golfs with the carryover 1.8-liter turbo-4 are EPA-rated at 21/30/24 mpg with the manual and 22/30/25 mpg with the automatic.

Golf GTIs are EPA-rated at 24/32/27 mpg with the manual, or 25/31/27 mpg with the 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The Golf R demands premium fuel and is EPA-rated at a 23/30/26 mpg with the dual-clutch and 21/29/24 mpg with the 6-speed manual.

The e-Golf gets a 126/111/119 MPGe equivalence rating.

Summary

In any form, the 2019 Volkswagen Golf benefits from a well-tuned suspension and sharp steering. Buyers face a dizzying number of choices, each one practical and enjoyable. SportWagens provide the best blend of utility and value. The best bet might be the Golf S SportWagen with all-wheel drive and the latest active-safety features.

 

Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.

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