The Canadian launch of the VW Golf family began when we left the hotel in downtown Montreal headed north west towards the track at Mont Tremblant. My driving partner for the day was a Montreal native so our journey through town in the 2.5L Golf 3 door hatch was a breeze. Our tester was a Trendline or base model with the 5 speed manual transmission. With this setup, the 170 horsepower was perfect for zipping in and out of traffic on Montreal’s busy Rue St Laurent.
I’m not used to riding shotgun, but I found the ride comfy enough. The cool, practical thing about this little ride is the amount of space they’ve jammed inside. We had a VW guy along for the ride and he had hopped in to the back seat behind me. Access to the aft seat isn’t bad, even for an adult and back seat rider had more than enough room to get comfy. We had our travel bags and coats stuffed in the rear cargo area with tons of space to spare. Looking around the cabin, the fit and finish would be considered more than adequate for a car that cost twice what this one does. For a 3 door hatch that rings in at just a tick over 20 grand, the interior is outstanding. The engineering squad have used all manner of lightweight sound deadening tricks, combined with an extra thick laminate windshield to keep interior and exterior noise down and it has worked. The car is as quiet as a few luxury boats I’ve driven costing 3 times as much. Nice job. Following the prescribed drive route, we switched drivers just in time for me to enjoy some gentle curves as we got off the highway and on to the rural roads. The 170 horsepower 5 cylinder is smooth silk and offers consistent power throughout all 5 gears of the slick shifting manual box. The engine also offers a hint of that VW/Audi heritage with a nice 5 cylinder snarl from the exhaust. On the open road, the ride is smooth and the handling reasonably crisp.
At the next stop, we switched to the Golf Wagon powered by the 2.0 liter, direct injected, turbocharged 4 cylinder diesel mated to the 6 speed DSG Automatic transmission. While this engine only puts out 140 hp, the grunt end of things is looked after by 236 lb-ft of torque. When mated to the DSG (Direct Shift) auto, the Golf wagon has exactly the right amount of power on tap at all times. This wagon is actually a massaged version of the Jetta wagon which is no longer part of the line up. I drove a petrol version with a manual transmission about a year ago and absolutely fell in love with it. I expected to do the same with the diesel DSG car and I was not disappointed. This car has tons of room, from cargo to seating space. The interior is quiet and has the fit and finish that we expect from VW. Again, the interior feels like it belongs in a much more expensive car. Honestly, I don’t think there is anything to dislike about the wagon. While the DSG is a really nice piece, I prefer to row my own boat so I would probably choose the 6 speed manual though they say the DSG gets better fuel economy.
Our trio of travelers agreed that both the wagon and the 3 door were superior machines. Where we did disagree was on which car was right for us, though I suspect this was more due to the realities of life. My journalist partner is single and lives in downtown old Montreal. Not surprisingly, he thought the 3 door would be the best fit for him. I on the other hand live in suburbia, 45 kilometers outside of Toronto and have a wife, 3 kids and a dog. The TDI wagon is by far the best choice for us. Our back seat rider, a VW employee, wisely stayed out of this comparison!
Perhaps that is why Volkswagen has chosen to market the new Golf at the Golf Family. There is something in the family that suits every family.
Next up, we take to the track in the black sheep of the family, GTI.