Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: April 12, 2016
Due to declining sales in recent years, a lot of manufacturers have scrapped their station wagons in favour of more popular crossovers and sport-utility-vehicles that offer sleeker proportions with just as much cargo room. Volkswagen however sees the lost potential, and offers an interesting proposal to the compact wagon segment, the 2016 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon.
Now, some VW fans will recall that the last Sportwagon was based on the Jetta’s old and chunky platform, and it wasn’t until 2015 that they made the switch to the new MQB platform that currently underpins the Golf hatchback. As a result, the new Sportwagon is lighter and more fuel efficient.
It's actually quite handsome to look at too, and certainly doesn't fulfill all of Hollywood's boring wagon stereotypes. No really, just try looking up pictures of station wagons from the 80s and 90s, and you will begin to understand why North Americans despise them. But fear not, Volkswagen knows what they are doing.
Being one of the last remaining European car companies to offer an affordable wagon, the Golf Sportwagon checks the short list of many buyers, offering a voluminous trunk, a manual transmission, and classic German refinement – all for under $25,000. Thankfully, Volkswagen will happily sell you one in a variety of configurations to appease the masses: Trendline, Comfortline, and Highline.
Our tester was in base Trendline clothes, yet it came with a great deal of features that made it feel anything but: a 5.8-inch touchscreen interface, heated front seats, and a standard backup camera that pops out of the VW emblem on the rear hatch.
The 2.5-litre 5-cylinder that was in the last generation wagon has been chucked in place of the 1.8-litre TSI (the diesel TDI is unavailable, for obvious reasons). Once under way, this four-cylinder motor throws down 170 hp @ 4,500 rpm and never feels gutless. The healthy mid-range shove and prompt throttle response gives the Sportwagon plenty of sporting feel.
Unfortunately, the dual clutch (DSG) transmission isn’t available on the Sportwagon here in Canada, but the 5-speed manual and 6-speed automatic options are more than sufficient for booting around the countryside. Driving dynamics give up little from its hatchback ancestor; the wagon is fun to hustle and bustle through corners, putting it on par with some of the class leading wagons like the BMW 328i Touring.
Giving the driver a sense of control and confidence, the Sportwagon is very predictable through corners and the steering, while numb, is well weighted and accurate. Also like the Golf hatch, the new MQB platform feels solid and refined, offering a very composed ride around town, one that you would simply not expect from a $25,000 car.
The Golf Sportwagon also maintains a well-appointed and fairly roomy interior (we didn’t expect anything less from a Golf). While there is plenty of cargo space and a comfortable rear seat for two adults, this compact wagon does fall short when compared to larger wagons such as the Subaru Outback. Such is the compromise for its small stature.
Compared to the Golf hatchback, the wagon balloons cargo space from 380 litres up to 863 litres with the rear seats up right. When the seats are folded flat, the hatch provides a modest 1,270 litres compared to the wagon’s generous 1,883 litres. You can begin to see why someone who has to cart around a lot of stuff on a daily basis would find solace with the wagon’s hauling capabilities.
Some minor gripes I have at this moment are that the Sportwagon doesn’t come with all-wheel drive (that is until the AllTrack version arrives in 2017), the rear seats aren’t that great for passengers over 6-feet tall, and quite a bit of road noise manages to seep into the cabin, especially at higher speeds. Oh, and not to mention that before the whole Dieselgate fiasco happened, the Sportwagon was available with a “fuel-efficient” diesel motor.
Regardless of these minor inconveniences, the fact of the matter is that it is incredibly rare to get into a wagon these days, at least in Canada. Many drivers prefer the higher seating position and elevated ground clearance provided by those high-demand crossovers like the Tiguan and Touareg. The Sportwagon on the other hand offers practicality and a wealth of cargo area while still retaining the enjoyable driving dynamics and compact size of the Golf hatchback, and for that we give it praise. The Sportwagon is one of the best all-rounded compact vehicles we’ve ever driven.
型号 Model: 2016 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon Trendline
顏色 Paint Type: Tornado Red
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $24,195
試車售價 Price as Tested: $24,195
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,630
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,562 / 1,799 / 1,481
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,415
引擎 Engine: 1.8-litre turbocharged inline-four
最大馬力 Horsepower: 170 hp @ 4,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 199 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 9.4 / 6.7
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.0
輪胎尺碼 Tires: P205/55R16