Written by: Calvin Chan
Photography by: Calvin Chan
The Volkswagen Golf has been roaming around in North America for 40 years now, and for those who don't remember, this German hatch started its roots under a different nameplate: the Volkswagen Rabbit. This carrot-loving moniker disappeared in the 1980s, but resurfaced again for the 2007-09 models. Currently hiking into its seventh generation, or what purists like to call Mk7, the Golf is still your run-of-the-mill commuter car that is available in any flavour to suit your taste buds: 3-door hatch, 5-door hatch, wagon, sport-tuned GTI, diesel, and even an electric-powered Golf, though the latter is only sold south of the Canadian border. With such a wide product range spanning from $19,995 to $32,895, there's something for everybody - college student, family man, adrenaline junkie - the Golf ticks the checkmark with keen handling, a composed ride, and hatchback versatility. We spent a week in the 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T Highline to find out what 2015 had in store for the new rabbit on the block.
The Mk7 Golf rides on a new, lighter, and stronger platform dubbed the MQB, or Modularer Querbaukasten. Also shared with the Audi A3, this improved platform is larger than the Mk6's but weighs nearly 100kg less depending on which engine you choose. This brings about more cabin room and cargo space, all aces in our book. There are three engines available in the Golf lineup: 1.8 TSI 4-cylinder (170 hp / 185 lb-ft), 2.0 TDI diesel (150 hp / 237 lb-ft), and a 2.0 TSI 4-cylinder in the GTI (210 hp / 258 lb-ft). Our Highline trim comes with the 1.8 TSI, and it's a magnificent engine with oodles of torque in the low RPMs. The impatient might notice some turbo lag, but it's not hindering and the acceleration feels natural.
Power-assisted rack and pinion steering is back and feels better than ever. It's nicely weighted, as a Euro-hatch should, with a slight bias towards the feathery side. We seldom noticed any road vibration coming up through the flat-bottom wheel, I just wish there was a Sport option that would tighten up the steering. The driving position is low and snug, the seats are heated and well bolstered, and the tall windows make for great visibility from all sides. Snow and black ice littered the streets in Toronto, but it was never a challenge for the zippy Golf equipped with a set of Continental ExtremeWinterContact tires. No matter the condition, the Golf delivered a premium ride with sublime build quality and a taut structure.
Our tester was mated to a smooth six-speed automatic transmission with noticeably short gearing in 1st and 2nd. The gear changes were quick, but not DSG quick, the latter of which you'll find in the Golf GTI. Volkswagen has also confirmed their new Mk8 Golf, which is slated for 2017, will come equipped with the world's first 10-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Fuel-efficiency must be their top priority, a quality that the Mk7 Golf is no stranger to either. Volkswagen claims the Mk7 is 16% more fuel efficient than the Mk6 due to a lighter platform and a cleaner engine, and the numbers prove it. The official figures are 9.3 L/100km in the city and 6.3 L/100km on the highway. We managed a conservative 8.5 L/100km. Moreover, the Golf only requires regular fuel. A full 50-litre tank cost us only $40, and if that's not frugal enough, the Golf has you covered with the 2.0-liter diesel.
The Mk7 follows the classic Golf styling recipe - boxy rear and pointy nose. The design is clean and simple, and the doors are wide enough for easy ingress and egress. New Bi-Xenon headlights lead the way - they are more powerful than the standard halogen lights and offer better illumination, but are consequently more expensive to replace. The refreshed tail lamps have taken a more angular shape, thus becoming the easiest way to differentiate with the Mk6. The new looks aren't melodramatic, but they're not dull either. The well-mannered lines and inoffensive sheetmetal are visually appealing and works out to the perfect porridge temperature dipped in a sleek Tungsten Silver Metallic paint.
The star of the show is the Golf's new interior. The fit and finish screams Audi and presents with a cabin decorated in excellent stitching, glossy black panels, beautifully lit gauges, and an engine start button integrated next to the gear shifter. Remove all the VW badges and I would've thought I was sitting in an Audi A3. Everything from the cushioning of the sport seats to the clunky gear shifter looks and feels expensive. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is one of my favourites, and it's flat-bottomed for a pinch of sporting feel.
The panoramic roof is a recommended delicacy, and increases the perception of headroom for passengers sitting in the back. Legroom is plenty in the front and rear, and you'll have no problem fitting a pyramid of suitcases in the trunk. The 5.8-inch MIB infotainment system remains simple, no convoluted menus or fancy hard buttons. It has a simplistic interface, is extremely easy to use, and comes loaded with navigation, Sirius XM Radio, and Bluetooth phone connectivity.
The new Mk7 Golf also features an assortment of new safety technology: The Forward Collision Warning System does exactly what the name suggests, and in the unfortunate event of a crash, the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System and Intelligent Crash Response Systems will kick in. These safety systems automatically deploy the brakes to help minimize damage, unlock the doors, turn off the power to the fuel pumps, and even help you turn on the hazard lights.
By the end of the week, the only complaint that I had was the unnecessarily loud clunk every time you shift into reverse and the rear view camera pops out beneath the trunk badge.
We actually thought we hit something. Petty nuisances aside, I was very impressed with the new Golf. It won AJAC's 2015 Best Small Car of the Year (over $21,000), ousting the MINI Cooper and the Kia Forte5, and with good reason. The steering feel is on point, the engine is potent yet economical, and the interior belongs in another league. The main drawback, however, is the price. Our 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T Highline bears a starting price of $29,895, putting it well above other fully-loaded hatchbacks: $26,995 Mazda3 Sport GT, $28,795 Kia Forte5 SX Luxury, and the $26,799 Hyundai Elantra GT. Optioned out and it gets unnervingly close to the starting price of a 5-door GTI ($32,895) that comes with a dual-clutch gearbox and a more powerful engine. But if you're looking for a better deal, I'd recommend looking at the more reasonably priced Comfortline Trim ($22,895). Loaded with staple features such as a rear view camera, front fog lights, heated front seats, and cruise control, the Golf can be your cozy commuter with all the "comforts" to keep you and your passengers happy.
型号 Model: 2015 Volkswagen Golf 1.8T Highline
顏色 Paint Type: Tungsten Silver Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $29,895
試車售價 Price as Tested: $32,090
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2637
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4268 / 1799 / 1443
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1345
引擎 Engine: 1.8 inline-four turbo TSI
最大馬力 Horsepower: 170 hp @ 4800-6200 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 185 lb-ft @ 1600-4200 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
前懸 Suspension-Front: Independent MacPherson struts with stabilizer bar
後懸 Suspension-Rear: Independent four-link with coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and stabilizer bar
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Vented disc
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: Solid disc
油耗 Fuel Consumption (City/Highway)- L/100 km: 9.3 / 6.5
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Continental ExtremeWinterContact - 225/45R17