2014 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF WAGON REVIEW
What’s Hot: Golf handling in a super-practical wagon.
What’s Not: No electric adjustment for front seats.
X-FACTOR: Offering both practicality and style, it has what it takes to give small SUV buyers something else to think about.
Vehicle style: Small wagon
Engine/trans: 90kW/200Nm 1.4litre turbo four | 7spd DSG auto
Fuel economy claimed: 5.4 l/100km (95RON premium). Tested: 6.8 l/100km
Small SUVs occupy the fastest-growing segment in the Australian car market, so much so that sales - and the available choices - of small wagons have diminished accordingly.
There are three turbo-charged engines - two petrol and a diesel - and for this review, the weapon of choice was the 90TSI Comfortline.
The new VW wagon shares a platform with the Golf hatch, Audi A3 and Skoda’s Octavia. It is a very good one.
And, despite being longer and wider than its predecessor, the new wagon is 165kg lighter. This helps it achieve a claimed combined fuel-consumption figure of 5.4 litres/100km.
- Cloth seats / multi-function, leather steering wheel
- A 5.8-inch main display, Bluetooth/USB
- a rear-vision camera, front-and-rear parking sensors
- dual-zone climate-control
- an automatic-dimming rear-vision mirror
While not quite in the same league as its Audi cousins’ interiors, Volkswagen accommodation is getting better-and-better, as is confirmed by the CC four-door sedan and the magnificent big Touareg SUV.
You certainly won't be disappointed by the Golf.
Quality: This is a smart cabin with perfect fit and finish throughout. The dash is classy with big round, easy-to-read dials and LED information read-outs.
It's a handsome and driver-oriented interior. Soft-touch plastics blend nicely with the harder variety and there are classy metallic-look trim highlights.
Ergonomics are mostly good, with all the essential switches and controls perfectly placed for the driver, however my feeling is that the touch-screen is positioned a tad low.
Also, while there is a height- and reach-adjustable steering wheel, there was a bit of fiddling to find the perfect driving position. It would be easier with electric seat adjustment.
Comfort: Volkswagen seats are always well-shaped and comfortable and the Golf wagon’s are certainly both.
For the driver and front-seat passenger, there is enough hip-and-thigh bolstering to hold you firmly in your seat for enthusiastic driving (should the urge strike you).
The front seats also have lumbar adjustment to ease aching backs - or stop them aching.
Storage: The Golf wagon’s storage capacity and flexibility is one area where the car really shines.
Cargo space is 100 litres greater (now 605 litres) than was the case with its predecessor. This rises to a small-delivery-van-like 162 0litres with the 60/40 split/fold rear-seats folded flat.
There is also a trap door behind the drop-down rear-seat centre armrest for longer items such as skis.
The cargo floor can also be lowered by around 100mm for even more space and a detachable bar clicks into the folded back seat to become a pull-up luggage-area divider.
There are drawers under the front seats, a sunglasses holder, a driver’s side dashboard compartment with a lid, another lidded bin beneath the centre stack, a handy-sized glovebox, front-seat-back map pockets, a centre-console compartment beneath the centre armrest, front-and-rear cup holders and front-and-rear door pockets.
ON THE ROAD
- 1.4litre TSI turbo four-cylinder petrol engine BlueMotion tech
- 90kW @5000rpm and 200Nm from 1400rpm to 4000rpm
- 0 - 100km/h - 9.7 seconds
- independent MacPherson-struts with lower A-arms and an anti-roll bar | the independent rear set-up is a four-link arrangement with coil springs and an anti-roll bar
- electro-mechanical power-assisted rack and pinion steering
- 16-inch alloy wheels shod with 205/55 R16 Dunlop Sport Blue Response rubber
- fuel consumption claimed: 5.4litres/100km. | Tested: 6.8litres
Driveability: When a car - in this case a wagon - wears a Golf badge, it comes as no surprise that its driveability is first class.
The little 1.4litre turbo-charged petrol engine is a spirited powerplant that loves to rev. Its mating to the slick-shifting seven-speed DSG transmission completes a surprisingly willing drivetrain package.
While you can shift manually via the console-mounted shifter, there are no steering wheel paddles (which diminishes the fun component somewhat).
VW claims a sprint time to 100km/h of 8.4 seconds, but it seems quicker than that. Even loaded up it has no trouble overtaking briskly.
The steering is weighted beautifully and there is plenty of feedback no-matter what the road conditions.
Despite its front-wheel-drive layout, it’s almost impossible to bring on any sense of understeer. And even rough, uneven corners fail to unsettle the little wagon.
Refinement: Being a Volkswagen, buyers can look forward to serene refinement when on the highway.
Road and wind noise are extremely low, and there is no noticeable boom typical of a wagon.
Besides plenty of sound-deadening material, the feel of refinement can partly be sheeted to the car’s excellent chassis and the way it is tuned to avoid vibration and resonances.
Ride and handling: The chassis is beautifully sorted, with, if anything, a set-up that leans to the sporty side. It certainly isn’t harsh however.
There isn’t a hint of body roll when pushing hard through tight corners and the electro-mechanical power steering lets the driver know exactly what’s happening.
The steering is sensitive to vehicle speed and also driver input, adjusting the responsiveness accordingly.
Braking: Stopping power comes fade-free courtesy of ventilated discs at the front and solid discs at the rear. The pedal is superbly weighted.
Safety features: Driver-fatigue detection system, a multi-collision braking system, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist, an electronic diff lock, anti-slip regulation, traction and stability control and seven airbags.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited kilometres
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Holden Cruze Sportwagon - $23,690: There are not a lot of wagons in the small-vehicle VFACTS segment around these days but there is the Cruze with its 1.8litre 104kW/176Nm.
The Cruze has more cargo space (686 litres) with the rear seats occupied but less (1478 litres) with them folded down. It's quite a bit cheaper but lacks the feel of class of the VW.
Hyundai i30 Tourer - $24,990: The i30 Tourer’s 1.6litre engine has more power (99kW) than the Golf but less torque (163Nm).
In the cargo department, with the seats up, the Hyundai has 528 litres of space compared with the Golf’s 605 litres but drop the Tourer’s seats down and its 1642 litres beats the Golf’s 1620 litres.
Skoda Octavia Wagon - $25,340: Similar but different. The Skoda gets the stronger motor - the 103 TSI that’s available in Golf Highline guise - and is significantly cheaper. It lacks the class and refinement of the Golf but is an equally good steer.
Luggage capacity is almost exactly the same; the Octavia offering up 588 litres of cargo space with the rear seats occupied.
Note: all prices are Manufacturers’ List Price and do not include dealer-delivery and on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Anything wearing a Golf badge will handle well, that's a given, as is a driver-friendly interior of superior quality.
Volkswagen engineers have also been doing great things with small, petrol-engine technology in recent years and the 1.4 litre 90TSI is one of their best.
Despite its size, it’s both zippy and frugal. At the traffic lights or when overtaking, it’s hard to believe you’ve only got 90kW of power and 200Nm of torque at your disposal.
While these days most Korean and Japanese carmakers do some of their chassis and steering-tuning to suit Australian conditions, VW doesn’t. It just seems to know how to get things right for everywhere.
The new wagon’s other great strength is its cargo space and flexibility.
Put all that together and this Golf Wagon will give plenty of small SUV buyers something to think about.
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
MORE: Golf news and reviews