Review: 2010 Volkswagen Golf

The Volkswagen Golf is the best selling VW of all time. But looking at the streets and highways of America, a lot of people would question the truth of that statement, and for good reason-in 2009, Rabbit/Golf sales made up a miniscule 3.5% of all Volkswagen sales in the US. For whatever reason, the American buying public continues to struggle to fully embrace the hatchback. The proof is in the numbers: last year, the Jetta outsold the Rabbit/Golf by a margin of 14:1!

Which is a shame. During my week with the Golf, I became quite fond of the car. But then again, why wouldn’t I? The Golf-based GTI I reviewed in January was a revelation in four-wheel fun. With most of the automotive press giving all their attention to the GTI, a basic, but very important point seems to be lost: the GTI wouldn’t be a great car if the Golf itself wasn’t great.

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First Impressions: 2010 VW Golf 3 door and wagon

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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.
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2010 VW Golf Family Launch

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Here in The Garage we have a long history with the VW Golf, dating back to the early Eighties. The first car I ever piloted around an autocross course was an 82 Rabbit GTI. The car was light, nimble, responsive and made the spectators giggle when the inside rear wheel lifted off the ground. The GTI responded well to fairly simple modifications that made the experience all the more fun. When the event planners at Franczak Enterprises asked if I would like to attend the launch of the all new 2010 VW Golf Family in Quebec I was more than happy to say yes.

Did I mention the black sheep of the family would be introduced at the legendary Circuit Mont Tremblant?
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Official: 2010 VW Golf Facts ‘n Stats

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The sixth generation Golf is here, and before we even begin, I want to thank VW for having the common sense to call it a Golf for us North Americans again. If I’m confusing you, the last generation Golf was sold here as the Rabbit, which is what VW called the Golf when it was sold in North America from 1974-1984. When we finally received the belated fifth generation Golf in 2006, VW inexplicably decided to dredge up the Rabbit name, which held absolutely no value or recognition to the young, educated buyers VW seeks.

For 2010, VW continues to offer the Golf as a two or four door hatchback. The 2.5L inline five is carryover, rated at 170hp. A 5-speed manual is available on the two-door only; a six-speed Tiptronic automatic is an option, and is standard on the four door. VW claims 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds for the manual, 8.1 for the automatic, and 22/30 city mpg city/highway for the manual, 23/30mpg for the automatic.

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