2020 Volkswagen Golf review: Supremely practical, somewhat sleepy

    The Golf’s styling is somewhat drowsy, however this automotive’s seems ought to age effectively.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    It’s not going to win any accolades for groundbreaking design, and no person will confuse it with some souped-up sports activities automotive, however what the Volkswagen Golf lacks in emotional enchantment, it greater than makes up for in different areas. This machine is easy and trustworthy, an actual salt-of-the-earth hatchback that is not solely versatile however unexpectedly satisfying.

    LikeSlick-shifting handbook transmissionIncredible real-world efficiencyPotent midrange torqueVersatile cargo maintain

    Don’t LikeOdd rev-hang at larger rpmEngine can really feel flatfootedLacks some driver aids

    The Golf has been round because the mid-1970s, which suggests VW has had a long time to good its construct. Hatchback variations of the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, MazdaThree and Toyota Corolla are sturdy competitors for this VW, however the of us in Wolfsburg have performed their homework. The Golf has extra backseat legroom and passenger quantity than both the MazdaThree or Corolla, its exterior design is nearly sure to age higher than the Civic’s, and it is received considerably extra torque than that Elantra GT.Making issues simple, the 2020 Golf is accessible in only one trim stage. Standard gear is pretty beneficiant and contains driver aids like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and computerized emergency braking with pedestrian detection. Rain-sensing windshield wipers, keyless entry with pushbutton begin and a sunroof are additionally included at no further cost, as are one-touch down and up energy home windows. That final merchandise is an actual comfort that needs to be customary on each automobile as of late.

    Unfortunately, Volkswagen doesn’t supply adaptive cruise management, lane-centering tech or computerized excessive beams. To get these goodies, and extra, you must step as much as the sporty GTI, which, to be honest, is an excellent little scorching hatch, however it prices hundreds greater than the common-or-garden Golf. Another disappointment is the instrument-cluster display. A easy white-on-black affair, it seems prefer it was ripped from an old-school graphing calculator and is completely misplaced within the 21st century. Flanking that show is a quartet of analog gauges which are crisp and enticing.On the infotainment entrance, only one system is obtainable, Volkswagen’s MIB II touchscreen array with a 6.5-inch coloration show. This bare-bones affair is unattractive and never significantly nice to make use of, although it will get the job performed. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, however infuriatingly the automotive solely has one USB port and it is of the type-C selection. This is nice in the event you’ve received the most recent and best telephone, not so good in the event you’re rocking an older mannequin and do not have an adapter. Also, how are passengers presupposed to cost their units if there’s just one port?

    Simple and trustworthy, the Golf’s inside is a no-frills zone and it is all the higher for it.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    For higher or worse, leatherette seating surfaces are your solely choice. A flowery identify for imitation cow pores and skin, this materials seems effective and feels OK, however material might need been a more sensible choice. The Golf’s cabin incorporates a good mixture of onerous and delicate plastics; the squishy stuff is richly textured and utilized generously all through the inside, whereas the stable polymers aren’t egregiously low cost. I’m significantly keen on this automotive’s dashboard structure, which is clear and unpretentious. 

    Most of the Golf’s buttons and switches are Audi-esque: substantial feeling and of top of the range. Curiously, nevertheless, the climate-control dials are tremendous low-rent, limp and flimsy as you rotate them. Flanking the shifter on the middle console is an array of plastic block-offs, injection-molded reminders of all of the options you aren’t getting.This Vee-Dub’s entrance bucket seats are flat and broad, designed for bigger clientele. Scrawny of us like me are unlikely to seek out them significantly comfy or supportive, however hey, not less than they’re heated. Rear-seat riders ought to have little to complain about. The Golf’s aft lodging supply loads of area for heads and legs, although the backrest itself is a contact too upright for long-haul consolation. Look in any respect that room!
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    True to kind, the Golf has a generously sized cargo maintain. With the rear seats upright, it presents 22.8 cubic ft of quantity; fold them flat and that determine grows to 52.7. For further versatility, there is a two-level ground on the rear. In its lowered place, it provides you a pair further inches of top, which is good for hauling taller objects. In preserving with its single trim stage, only one engine is obtainable on this automotive, a clean and quiet-running 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. With direct injection, it cranks out a middling 147 horsepower, lower than what you get within the Civic, Corolla or Elantra, and considerably behind than the Mazda3’s 186 ponies. Rather than going for an enormous horsepower determine, VW engineers tuned this engine for torque. And with 184 pound-feet obtainable at simply 1,400 rpm, it has extra twist than any of these opponents, save the Mazda, which has a mere 2 lb-ft benefit.Giving drivers some under-hood selection, two transmissions are supplied within the Golf. You can get a typical six-speed handbook, which is what my tester is fitted with, or you may spend an additional $800 for the obtainable eight-speed computerized. This Golf’s shifter is not fairly as crisp as I bear in mind from previous VWs, however it’s nonetheless a wonderful piece of engineering that strikes slickly by its gates. The clutch’s weighting is nearly good, and it has a broad engagement vary for simple use. This is a type of vehicles you may simply leap in and drive with out serious about something. Shifting with buttery smoothness, both up or down, is simple as pie. In preserving with the remainder of this automotive, the Volkswagen Golf’s engine is not any fire-breather, however it’s a extremely economical workhorse.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    The Golf’s boosted four-cylinder gives loads of midrange torque and offers the automotive unexpectedly fast acceleration, however it’s potential to catch this hatchback flat-footed. You want not less than 2,000 revs on the clock for it to essentially reply. Shift somewhat too early and the engine can fall right into a gap that is robust for it to climb out of, an issue with different downsized, turbocharged powerplants. Another minor annoyance is that this VW’s behavior of hanging on to revs. When you stab the clutch at or close to redline to seize the following gear, the engine will not decelerate, it lags for a second or so earlier than the revs drop, one thing that may make altering gears somewhat jerky. Thankfully, when pushed at a extra leisurely tempo it does not do that. Equipped with a handbook transmission, the Golf stickers at 28 miles per gallon metropolis and 36 mpg freeway. Combined, it ought to return 31 mpg. There’s nothing improper with these effectivity scores, although in real-world driving they show to be woefully inaccurate. At least based on the onboard laptop, I’ve no bother demolishing that mixed determine, averaging higher than 37 mpg, even after loads of wide-open-throttle romps. To be honest, that determine doesn’t embrace any actual stop-and-go commuting, however nonetheless, you should not have any bother getting astonishing gasoline financial system on this VW. The automotive’s 205/55R16 Bridgestone Ecopia tires undoubtedly assist ship that incredible effectivity rating. But whereas nice for slicing consumption, I don’t take care of them. They really feel onerous, a bit greasy and appear to lack grip when cornering. At least the tires are fairly quiet. Even when ripping down the freeway they do not produce a lot noise.There’s little to grumble about with this hatchback.
    Craig Cole/Roadshow
    Speaking of corner-carving, the Golf’s leatherette-wrapped tiller feels good in my arms, being each effectively sculpted and stable. Snake this VW by turns and it feels forgiving, although there’s a contact extra physique roll than I’d like. Enhancing maneuverability, the steering is tremendous gentle at low speeds, which makes this automotive a snap to park, although it bulks up properly when driving quicker for correct straight-line stability.While it does not include each single trendy comfort, the 2020 Volkswagen Golf remains to be lots of automotive for the cash. Including $920 in vacation spot charges, my tester rolled off the meeting line in Puebla, Mexico carrying a sticker worth of $24,115, which makes it a relative cut price in at the moment’s world the place you may push a MazdaThree hatchback into the mid-$30,000 vary.No, I do not love all the things about this VW — the entrance seats could possibly be higher, and I want it supplied adaptive cruise management — however it’s nonetheless a refined machine that is each versatile and impressively environment friendly. It will not set the world on hearth, however the Golf is in the end a satisfying machine.

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