We have been patiently waiting for a chance to drive the seventh generation of this classic hatchback. We spent a week with the new Golf TSI, and it changed our perceptions of the brand.
The Golf was launched in 1974 as the replacement for the original Beetle. The formula of an inexpensive front wheel drive car for the masses hasn’t changed. The original hot hatch is still a looker. Our TSI model was the spunky 4-door sedan with a giant sunroof. At first glance you may notice some similarities to the Audi A3. This not coincidental, as they share a majority of sheet metal and components. Volkswagen’s MQB platform also underpins the Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia in Europe.
Motor Trend saw it fit to make the Golf their 2015 car of the year, and we wanted to find out why. Manual transmissions are all but extinct in our line of business, so we couldn’t wait to jump behind the wheel. I like to take a few minutes to acclimate to new clutches, as modern hydraulics make for imprecise and numb declutching. After getting acquainted we hit our local urban test loop and the Golf came to life. Transmission gearing has a great spread. The differential ratio is a NASCAR-like 0.84 and allows for fifth-to-third shifting on the highway for great passing ability despite the modest four cylinder.
Power from the ubiquitous 1.8 turbo four is rated as 170 HP and 200 ft-lbs of torque. This may seem weak, but the Golf S comes devoid of power seats, high powered audio and other superfluous content. Curb weight is listed as 3,023 lbs, making acceleration perfectly adequate for a daily driver. Being slim also gives the steering a quick response, which adds to the fun factor.
If the base packages aren’t enough, have no fear, as the Golf is supported by legions of aftermarket upgrade companies. The same pricey performance parts sold for the Audi A3 also fit the Golf, CC, Jetta and Beetle. If you intend on a Golf being your primary mode of transportation, invest in an upgraded shifter. Of course, this car is also offered in an automatic, and in a DSG dual clutch on the GTI model.
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The Golf S may be their entry level offering, but it still has the essentials. For $21,815 you get stability control, cup holders and power windows. What more do you need?