2015

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

We're already in love with the Volkswagen Golf -- it's our top-rated small car. But does adding extra cargo space and a diesel engine make a good thing better? VW is the only remaining mass-market European car company here and the SportWagen is one of the very few affordable station wagons that hasn't been converted into an ersatz SUV.
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Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Road Test

We're already in love with the Volkswagen Golf -- it's our top-rated small car. But does adding extra cargo space and a diesel engine make a good thing better?

VW is the only remaining mass-market European car company here and the SportWagen is one of the very few affordable station wagons that hasn't been converted into an ersatz SUV. Add in the optional diesel engine (available with a manual transmission!) and this Golf checks all of the boxes for Niche Car Bingo.

Unfortunately, the DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission (which is what we tested) doesn't play well with the 2.0-liter, 150-hp turbodiesel. It feels gutless and lazy, like it's in the wrong gear when you want a power surge . You really need to floor the gas pedal to get a downshift. And the VW diesel's clatter is rather old-school compared to more refined offerings from other automakers.

Best Version to Get
The SE trim provides the best balance of equipment and price. We'd get the Driver Assistance package for its affordable forward-collision warning. Note that the SE (and SEL's) heated front seats are especially important for TDI buyers because the diesel engine doesn't develop cabin heat as quickly...
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