Volkswagen Golf Reviews
Impressive TDI fuel economy; quick, responsive driving feel; hatchback versatility and space-efficiency; easy to maneuver and park; upscale interior look and feel
Model Overview:The 2012 Volkswagen Golf is offered in 2- or 4-door hatchback models, both with a choice between two engines, one gasoline, the other diesel. The gasoline choice, which is lower-priced, is a 170-horsepower, 2.5L 5-cylinder, while clean-diesel fans will like the 2.0L turbo-diesel 'TDI' 4-cylinder. Two-door gasoline models come with a standard 5-speed manual, while a 6-speed automatic is optional on that and standard on the 4-door models. Meanwhile, Golf TDI models come with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. Both automatics include Tiptronic manual mode, while the DSG shifts much quicker than a typical automatic. TDI models achieve much better gas mileage, with EPA ratings of up to 30 mpg city, 42 mpg highway.
With its excellent variable-assist electromechanical power rack-and-pinion steering, strut-type front suspension and fully-independent rear suspension, the Golf is tuned to feel responsive, which goes well with this compact hatchback's maneuverability and parking ease. Four-wheel disc brakes provide strong stopping power, and electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes are included across the model line. The Golf also rides quieter and with more refinement than other on-a-budget hatches.
The 2012 Golf's interior exceeds expectations for those seeking basic transportation, as it adds a little more pizzazz than other hatchbacks in its price range. The instrument panel and door trims are nicely detailed, and there are plenty of soft-touch surfaces. Front seats are adjustable for height and lumbar, and 4-door models get a power recline feature. Rear seats are just spacious enough for most adults, and seatbacks are split 60/40 and fold forward to expand cargo space up to 46 cubic feet; otherwise with them up, there's 15.2 cubic feet--about enough for a standard load of groceries.
With a simplified model lineup this year, the base Golf now includes power windows and locks, cruise control, air conditioning, a trip computer, a rear wiper and washer, steel wheels and an 8-speaker system with an auxiliary input. A Convenience Package adds heated front seats, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, and a front armrest, while a top level adds a sunroof, premium sound, SIRIUS satellite radio and iPod interface.
Golf TDI models come standard with more-- including 17-inch alloy wheels, heated washer nozzles, and footwell lighting--while a sunroof and navigation system come with a middle trim. Loaded TDI models include a Tech Package with bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, a Dynaudio sound system and push-button start.
Model Changes:The Golf's option packages have been reconfigured for 2012, so that both the gasoline and diesel models are offered in three different trim levels. Most of the features are as previously offered, but 17-inch Salamanca alloy wheels are new for 2012 on the Golf TDI, and the top Tech Package on the TDI now includes LED daytime running lamps, Dynaudio premium sound and push-button start.
Model Value:While the Volkswagen Golf costs a bit more than many rival models, it also feels more sophisticated and refined in general. Especially in TDI form, it gets the gas mileage of a hybrid with an eager, responsive driving feel that you won't find in any of the popular hybrids. The Golf TDI's gas mileage of up to 42 mpg also enables a driving range of 600 miles or more.
In addition, the Golf remains a high-value choice for those who live in tight urban areas and need a car that maneuvers well and parks easily but also comes with more equipment--and a more upscale feel, overall--than many other efficiency-minded small cars.