Volkswagen Golf; it is the hatchback, the benchmark by which all others are measured. And it has been for over 45 years. The modern Golf, now in its seventh generation, has been with us since 2012. Since then, it’s had its fair share of visual tweaks and engine changes. We’ve extensively tested both the hotted up GTI and range-topping Golf R, but we haven’t been behind the wheel of the model from which they both originate. It was finally time to right that wrong and test the revised 2019 Golf.
Two years ago, the Golf got a visual refresh that brought a bit of sharpness to the Golf’s visage. For 2019, Volkswagen threw out the 1.8T in favor for the same 1.4T engine developed for the new Jetta. Our tester arrived with a proper six-speed manual transmission to help make the best of all 147 horsepower, though an eight-speed automatic is available. The Golf now arrives standard with blind spot monitor and forward collision warning. Opting for the SE trim brings a larger 8″ infotainment touchscreen, a panoramic sunroof, and keyless access with push-button start. We missed some nice-to-have features, like automatic climate control or upgraded headlights, however. But all told, a simple as-tested price of $25,040 means you won’t break the bank to enjoy one of the best hatchback experiences in the business.
You also won’t be breaking the bank at the pump. The new 1.4T returns a combined 32mpg while providing 147hp and 184lb-ft torque. Though our 382 miles of testing returned an impressive 36.1mpg. We say impressive because we enjoyed the perky engine paired with the manual transmission. Between 2500 and 5000rpm, the engine is responsive and engaging. An automatic just isn’t programmed to live in that kind of RPM range, so this manual Golf is better for it. But without the GTI or R powerplant to enjoy, it is the chassis that shines through on this Golf. The ride is comfortable but connected. Road imperfects, of which there are many this time of year, are easily soaked up. There’s a nice weight to the steering as well, which is made all the better with VW’s well-sculpted thin-rimmed wheel. It’s just a pleasant car to drive.
The Golf is also a nice place to spent time. There’s no budget rental car feel in here, and Volkwagen has absolutely mastered cabin ergonomics. We were all set to highly recommend the Golf when rumors started that VW would discontinue the standard Golf in the US. As buyers flock to crossovers, the new Tiguan seems well-suited to former Golf owners. But we’d be saddened by that decision. Sure, the GTI and Golf R would stick around. There’s just something not right about losing the original replacement for the Beetle. So we say get one while you can. Volkswagen knows hatchbacks, and it doesn’t seem like they’ll last forever.
|2019 Volkswagen Golf 1.4T SE
|As Tested MSRP||$25,040|
Quick Spin: 2019 VW Jetta