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Just a Great Car! logo 8/14/2015 Dave Peterson

I've been driving gas and diesel VWs for 35 years, with my previous ride being a 312k mile 2002 Jetta TDI that's never had a major problem and still runs great, but time to move on. I considered a Passat, but bigger than I needed and drove like a large car, meh styling. I'd considered the now discontinued Jetta Sportwagen, but it had the lesser version of the TDI, blob styling, and just couldn't get excited. This new Golf Sportwagen snuck up on me, going from being unaware of it to in my garage in about two weeks. Even though the Golf has historically been positioned as their low end model series, in recent years it has enjoyed a rep as their performance series, with classic VW Euro handling, more sporty everything, and even higher end interiors. I really wanted a snappy handling car like my old Jetta and previous GTI, so as stated above the Golf series is the closest you can get in their line-up. This thing handles much better than a Passat, if not quite my older VWs. The S version has only 16" wheels, but my experience is that is good enough with good rubber. The engine is strong, but with some different characteristics than my 2002 TDI, which was chipped. My 02 leaped off the line with tremendous out of the gate acceleration, whereas this car doesn't as much, despite having lots more power and torque. Once underway it accelerates quite strongly for passing, even in top gear. I haven’t climbed any long, steep grades yet, but my older TDI could effortlessly do it in top gear and I’m expecting this will as well. These high torque diesels are much less affected by grades or loads than gassers.The seats have the usual great contours and support of years past, much better than the Passat. One problem is the center console is the widest I've ever had, and I normally drive with my leg flopped to the right, and it presses into the console edge, which is uncomfortable. I'm trying to adjust my seating habits a bit. Also, getting in and out isn't as smooth as previous models, and it seems the door frame is a little further forward relative to the seat, the roof line at the door being a bit lower despite plenty of headroom, and there is a pronounced hump on the underside of the steering column. All in all, I need to scrunch up a bit to get in and out cleanly, but once in the car fits like a glove.The backup camera comes on instantly, unlike previous model years which had a lengthy delay. The entertainment system in older models is slow to respond to anything, and this year they’ve totally fixed all that with a new system.People have complemented my interior and VW has made improvements in most of their models interiors after taking heat in recent years. This Golf looks quite high end. With multiple extremely high mileage VWs in my family, not one has ever had a crack, tear, or any other failure of cloth, velour, or vinyl seating, and from the looks of it I expect the trend to continue. The exterior lines and styling make the best of the wagon body style. If it’s possible to get excited about a wagon, this car is it. It actually looks a bit sporty.The doors and trunk shut like safe doors as in previous VWs, solidness competing Asian cars don't have. Everything about the construction of the car exudes quality. This one was Mexican made, but so were my last two VWs with over 600k miles between them with no major repairs or even body noises or rattles.The stereo is a pleasant surprise, not as good as the awesome one in my 02, but solid. It sounds like it needs more amp and better tweeters, with some distortion at moderately high levels that doesn’t sound like a speaker problem. I understand, but cannot verify, that the difference between this and the Fender system in the SEL is an amp and subwoofer. These speakers put out deep, solid bass at medium volume, but the amp runs out quickly.The whole electronics package is a big improvement over previous years, and I really like it. I wish they put in real USB, a common gripe, and the connector you plug their adapter cord into is recessed, and the cord has a stiff right angle connection that is tough to insert (don’t think of doing it while driving), and then only a foot long, which doesn’t give me much flexibility with my iPod. Luckily, once it synchs with the car you can do everything through the stereo that you can on the iPod, and easier. Adapters for other devices are available on eBay for $13 – don’t pay VW’s crazy prices. Every gas or diesel VW I’ve owned has beaten its EPA highway mileage in everyday driving. Tons of people have reported upper forties and fifties in the larger Passat automatic, so this in entirely believable. VW has always been conservative in their ratings. My first tank was 43.5mpg in mixed driving, and everyone says these newer TDIs just keep getting better as they break in. So, this doesn’t have quite the light tossability of my old VWs, but is a car that you can do some serious driving in.

Average Rating : 5


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