2014 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF REVIEW
What’s Hot: Well-constructed interior, great handling, lots of room
What’s Not: Not the cheapest small wagon out there...
X-FACTOR: ...but it's by far the best for your money. And what other small wagon handles this well?
Vehicle Style: Small wagon
Price: $25,540 (90TSI) to $36,340 (110TDI Highline), plus on-roads
Engines: 90kW/200Nm 1.4 petrol (90TSI), 103kW/250Nm 1.8 petrol (103TSI), 110kW/320Nm 2.0 diesel (110TDI)
Transmissions: 7sp auto (petrol), 6sp auto (diesel)
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.4 l/100km (90TSI), 5.2 l/100km (103TSI), 4.9 l/100km (110TDI)
Volkswagen’s new Golf Wagon truly is bigger and better than before.
With 100 litres more boot space (for a total of 605 litres), and the outstanding interior of the seventh-generation Golf, the 2014 Golf Wagon is a marked step-up from its predecessor.
It’s also substantially cheaper. The base model 90 TSI now comes with a seven-speed auto as standard, yet it still manages to cost $1450 less than the previous manual-equipped base model Golf Wagon.
Add to that the dynamic improvements of the new MQB platform that it shares with the Golf hatchback, and the wagon comes up trumps.
It might not be the cheapest small wagon out there, but our first taste indicates that it’s the best.
- Bluetooth phone and audio integration, climate control, cruise control, power windows, USB audio input, steering wheel controls and trip computer all standard
- Reach and rake adjustable steering column.
- Face-level air vents for rear passengers
- Boot-mounted release handles for 60/40 split rear seatbacks. False boot floor with space saver tyre beneath.
- Boot capacity is 605 litres with seats up, 1620 litres with rear seats folded. Boot floor flush with loading lip. Ski port on Highline variants.
Forward of the B-pillars, this is pretty much just like a regular Golf 7 hatch. This is a very good thing.
Quality is exceptional, and though the base model 90TSI doesn’t have the flashiest interior around (Fifty shades of grey, anyone?), it’s very well built.
And there are plenty of thoughtful touches.
Like the nicely integrated release handles for the rear seatbacks, the rear air-vents for backseaters, the bag hooks in the load area and the front cupholder that’s capable of gripping an ultra-slim energy drink can.
Comfort is good all around, though the front seats in the base model 90TSI aren’t quite as comfortable as those in the 90TSI Comfortline.
Rear-seat legroom is plentiful and so is headroom, and four adults will have little to complain about on a long journey.
However, the absence of a fold-down centre armrest and rear cupholders on the 90TSI base model is just stingy.
The boot is massive. Measuring 605 litres with the rear seats up and the cargo blind drawn, the Golf Wagon’s capacity for luggage is dramatically bigger than the Golf hatch’s 380 litres.
We can thank a 308mm stretch in overall length for that (wheelbase is identical), and we can also thank a loading lip that’s flush with the boot floor for making it easy to get things into and out of the Golf Wagon.
Drop the rear seats down and pack things to the roof, and the Golf Wagon will swallow up 1620 litres of your stuff. That’s 350 litres more than the Golf hatch’s maximum cargo capacity.
ON THE ROAD
- 90kW/200Nm turbo 1.4 litre petrol (90TSI), 103kW/250Nm turbo 1.8 litre petrol (103TSI), 110kW/320Nm turbo 2.0 litre diesel (110TDI)
- Automatic transmission standard (7sp on petrol, 6sp on diesel), front-wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front suspension, independent multi-link rear suspension.
- Disc brakes front and rear.
The Golf Wagon really doesn’t put a foot wrong, no matter which variant. Sure, there’s a bit of cabin boom courtesy of the big boot space, but broadly speaking the Golf Wagon is just as much of a pleasure to drive as its hatchbacked sister.
The steering is light but direct (if devoid of feel) and the twin-clutch gearbox behaves better during low-speed driving.
But the trump is the roadholding offered by the Golf Wagon’s all-independent suspension. It's comfortable but very well-sorted and instills confidence on rough and winding country roads.
Even the base model 90TSI is an impressive machine.
Its high-profile eco-biased tyres are mounted on 15-inch alloy wheels and certainly aren’t the grippiest tyre out there, but they really iron out the ride on choppy pavement and tame tyre roar on coarse asphalt.
That 90TSI engine is such a sweet unit. It’s a turbocharged 1.4 litre inline four producing 90kW and 200Nm, and, though it struggles up steep hills, it likes to rev and has more than enough mid-range torque for relaxed highway cruising.
If you expect to be carrying big loads more often, the 110TDI and 103TSI would be better choices. With 110kW/320Nm and 103kW/250Nm respectively, neither breaks a sweat when asked to perform.
The diesel also has the added advantage of being the most frugal wagon in the range, sipping just 4.9 l/100km on average.
The 103TSI isn’t far behind with an average consumption of 5.2 l/100km, while the 90TSI drinks 5.4 l/100km on the combined cycle.
Ride quality on the 103TSI and 110TDI is a touch less compliant thanks to the lower-profile rubber on their 17-inch alloys, but both are far from uncomfortable. Road noise does increase noticeably, though.
ANCAP rating: The Golf Wagon has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain), ISOFIX child seat anchorages.
A fatigue detection system and post-accident auto-brake system are standard on all Golf Wagons, and a driver assistance pack with active cruise control, collision monitor and a low-speed autobrake feature are available as an option on Comfortline models and above.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The fact that it offers more seats-up luggage capacity than all of them is a nice bonus.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Golf 90 TSI - 7spd DSG - $25,540
- Golf 90 TSI Comfortline - 7spd DSG - $29,290
- Golf 103 TSI Highline - 7spd DSG - $33,840
- Golf 110 TDI Highline - 6spd DSG - $36,340
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