To some the Golf is the king of the C Segment while to others they are a ticking time bomb. These differing opinions aren’t surpising when over 30 million Golf's having been built globally. To add my 2 cents I thought I would share my past year and a half experience with my 2013 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon 118TSI Comfortline.
The 118TSI Comfortline has a 1.4 litre 4-cylinder engine with a turbo and supercharger mated to a dry clutch 7 speed DSG gearbox. As an overall package the the two work very well together with the engine responding well in both city and motorway driving. I sometimes find a slight lack of torque but a quick downshift from the DSG and a second delay for the turbo and supercharger to kick in and things move along quite briskly.
Volkswagen recommend 98RON with 95RON being acceptable. Initially I filled my Golf with 95RON and found the engine to be a bit jerky and unsettled. I spoke to my dealership and they recommended me switching to 98ORN. After the switch to 98 the engine is much smoother, has more punch and I experienced a slight decrease in fuel consumption to boot! Even after the drop my urban consumption is about 10l/100km, which is a little bit higher than expected. However, this falls quickly to sit between 5.5 – 6.5l/100km on the motorway and the engine ticking along at just over 2000RPM.
Except for liking to drink oil from time to time the engine has been without fault. The gearbox too has been a pleasure for the most part. In the beginning it took some time to learn how to take off smoothly without the well-known DSG jerk but after my first month of ownership I had adapted my driving technique. Just before the cars 3-year warranty ran out I started to experience the dreaded DSG shudder when taking off and a snappy 2nd gear change. Unhappy and fearing the worst I took my Golf into Volkswagen and had the gearbox inspected. The issue was the misalignment of one of the clutch plates which was thankfully fixed under warranty.
The ride in the Golf in skewed towards the firmer side but bumps and imperfections in the road are well absorbed. This makes for a supple ride with the driver still being aware of what is beneath them, inspiring confidence in the drive. I usually forget that I am driving the soccer mum estate version and feel like it is smaller and sportier than it is. This feeling is strengthened by the handling which is well weighted and responsive, making daily driving and parking a breeze. I would have no problem doing an interstate trip in my Golf.
My only complaint would be the traction of the FWD in the wet. If you hit the accelerator a little bit too hard you will lose traction and the anti-spin will kick in.
The interior of the Golf Sportwagon is based predominantly on the traditional Golf, the cabin is a mixture of the 5th Gen and the 6th Gen Golf with a carnivorous boot at the back. The Sportwagon is 35cm longer than the traditional hatch which has allowed for an unintruded loading area with 2 side cavities.
Being a young male with no family, I am predominantly in the car by myself and don’t use the boot space but when the need has arisen I have been able to fill the car with 5 guys and packing for a weekend away, moved apartments and done countless tip runs with room to spare. I actually had a friend comment on how much rubbish I was able to fit in the back of my Spotwagon when doing one of the tip runs. There are also well sized cubbies and 6 cup holders spread throughout the cabin. The front door cards are able to hold a wine bottle each and the central cup holder divider having a removable bottle opener, which is always a bonus.
I have the optional black heated leather seats which are firm but not uncomfortably so. The Comfortline comes standard with sports seats which are lightly bolstered, I like the bolstering as it provides good support for long distance trips but isn’t intrusive. Volkswagen has used genuine leather in the Golf as opposed to the vinyl car makers are choosing to use today which has held up well with no maintenance done other than the occasional wipe down with a damp cloth.
Considering my Golf is from 2013, and sits in the C Segment I think the standard specification is quite good. It has auto headlights and wipers, Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, follow me home lights (lights that stay one after the car has been locked), and heated side mirrors to name a few. I also have the optional 6-disc RCD 510 head unit which provides a touch screen media interface minus the navigation.
The head unit provides great sound through the 6 speaker stereo but the interface is very clunky and tedious to use. Searching for a contact through the address book takes a lot of time and the keyboard is laid out in an A – Z formation. Luckily you can select phone contacts through the instrument display which is easier but still not fantastic. There is also Volkswagens MMI connectivity which takes up half the centre armrest cubby and is largely redundant due to its requirement of the VW certified connector and the Bluetooth connectivity. The only positive of the MMI is it has a USB adaptor which I can plug my iPhones USB cable into to charge it.
Other than the clunky infotainment the technology and connectivity works well in the Golf, the headlights and wipers look after themselves and the Bluetooth connects seamlessly every time I get into the car.
As an overall package the Golf 118TSI Sportwagon is a great car, it does everything you’d expect of a Golf. Rides very well with plenty of power for an urban dweller like me. It doesn’t have the bulk of an SUV but plenty of loading space and practicality when its needed. Ownership costs such as 98Ron and the exxy capped price servicing aren’t fantastic but it is a small price to pay for the comfort, flexibility and reliability received in return. The only thing I feel it is missing is some soul, it does everything well and rarely puts a foot out of line, but it just needs some X factor like my old SAAB. It had a 10th of the features of the Golf but always put a smile on my face!