In automotive years, the Volkswagen Golf seems to have been around forever.
But its survived because, while the Golf is a compact, it also offers solid performance and an impressive array of technology for less than $25,000, which makes it a relative bargain when sport-utility vehicles routinely roll into showrooms with price tags in excess of $50,000 and current generation of road-worthy pickup trucks can exceed $60,000.
The Golf rides on a 103.8 inch wheelbase, stands a shade over 58 inches tall and weighs a bit less than 3,000 pounds when it is equipped with an automatic transmission as the model I tested was.
The 2019 Golf S also was equipped with a stop start system that, while you could hear it, had no impact on the car’s driving dynamics while coming off a standing stop. The Golf also is one of the few cars available with a manual transmission.
I also found the interior to be comfortable, especially the seat, and while I never felt like the cabin was closing in on me the essential controls were close at hand.
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In addition, I liked the extra touches such as the leather-wrapped steering wheel, which also was adjustable, and the center console with its useable cupholders. The visibility in all directions from the driver’s seat, a critical feature in a vehicle of any size, also was also very good and I think helps ease driver stress.
Moreover, the Golf is great fun to drive. As I mentioned, the car weighs a little less than 3,000 pounds. However, the 1.4-liter engine with turbocharging and direct injection, which migrated to the Golf from the larger Jetta, produces 147 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque, giving the car an impressive power-to-weight ratio, which is deployed to the car’s advantage.
The car also has excellent driving dynamics with very nice feel for the road, solid steering, excellent stability and ample stopping power. The stubby wheelbase gives the Golf an excellent turning radius and four-wheel independent suspension underpinning the car gives a relatively smooth ride on a variety road surface. It is also equipped with paddle shifters just behind the steering wheel, adding another dimension to the sporty flavor of the Golf.
The Golf also gets 37 miles per gallon on the highway and 29 mpg in the city for a combined EPA rating of 32 mpg.
The exterior design of the Golf is a compact, five-door configuration with a rear hatch for storing a suitcase, duffle bag or light cargo. The design also features relatively short overhangs that tend to emphasize the front face and rear aspect of the car.
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Volkswagen has equipped the Golf with LED headlights and 15-inch wheels, which help elevate the appearance of the exterior. The 2019 Golf S also is equipped with an impressive array of driver assistance features that can help protect the driver and passenger while out on the road.
Standard driver-assistance and safety features including blind spot monitor, rear-traffic alert, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency and front assist to warn of pedestrians or bicyclists
Every Volkswagen Golf comes with the People First Warranty, which the German automaker describes as “America’s Best Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty.” The warranty provides coverage for six-years or 72,000-miles (whichever occurs first), and can be transferred to a subsequent owner throughout the remainder of its duration.
Pricing for the 2019 Volkswagen Golf with a standard six-speed manual transmission starts at $21,845. The eight-speed automatic transmission starts at $22,945. The destination charge for all Golf models is an additional $895.
The Golf has survived for 45 years because it has satisfied the demands of customers all over the world and the 2019 Golf is quite capable of challenging the dominance of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, which tend to be the vehicles of choice for customers in the U.S. now that Ford Motor Co. and General Motors are pulling out of the segment.
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The Golf is affordable, well equipped and fun to drive, which is an impressive mixture and makes it worth a look from anyone willing to acknowledge that a small vehicle will suit day-to-day needs.