By KBB.com Editors
Volkswagen's perky Golf hatchback, a leader among mass-market compacts, has been through something of an identity crisis. Decades ago it was introduced to this country as the Rabbit, then it was the Golf (in line with its name in other markets), then it spent three years as the Rabbit and now, for 2010, it's once again the Golf. With that comes a fresh, new exterior, a restyled interior and the optional availability of a powerful and efficient turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engine. Versatile by nature, the 2010 Volkswagen Golf arrives in two- or four-door variants and retains its above-par driving dynamics and high level of overall refinement. Yes, it's priced above most other compacts, but it's a simple case of "you get what you pay for."
The 2010 Volkswagen Golf is a fine example of German engineering. It feels and drives solid and its high level of refinement and build quality surpass most, if not all, entrants in the compact category. The Golf's highly-efficient optional diesel engine also makes it a unique offering in its class.
Small commuter cars are typically inexpensive; such is not the case with the 2010 Golf. This hatchback may actually price itself out of a small-car buyer's budget. In terms of driving fun, it's there, but not to the degree of some rivals, such as the MAZDA3 or the MINI Cooper.
For 2010, Volkswagen sheds the Rabbit nomenclature and changes it back to the Golf - hopefully, for good this time. The re-re-re-named hatchback touts a new design language - inside and out - as well as an optional TDI engine, a step in a greener direction. Overall, the 2010 Volkswagen Golf is better than ever.
Driving Impressions The 2010 Volkswagen Golf is small, but feels as solid and surefooted as a well-built midsize sedan. To that end, it inspires confidence in virtually all driving...situations. Much of that is due to its Euro-tuned suspension, which is firmed up even more on the TDI. Around town, the Golf offers the responsiveness and agility needed to zip through busy traffic and the TDI model, with all its torque, allows plenty of off-the-line performance at stop lights and onramps. At highway speeds the Golf is most impressive, feeling planted, secure and stable. The Golf's manual transmissions are adequate, but the optional six-speed automatic is a smoother, better fit for this car. Overall, the 2010 Golf is not as sporty as the MAZDA3, but it delivers a spirited ride, indeed, and especially so with the TDI Version.
The TDI Powertrain
It's clean, green and quick. If you can afford it, the turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel is the way to go. Expect to be happy at the pumps, thanks to its 40-plus miles-per-gallon efficiency, and expect to be happy on the roads with its 236 pound-feet of torque.
Cold Weather Package
This package includes heated seats and heated windshield-washer nozzles. Both features make enduring cold climates a little easier. It's an excellent option for those who live in places where winters can be harsh.
Within, the 2010 Volkswagen Golf is more spacious than one might expect, particularly in terms of shoulder room. The cabin has a redesigned instrument panel and center console, providing improved ergonomics. Fit and finish have also been improved, thanks to an upgrade in materials, and the brushed metal trim is a particularly handsome touch. The Golf's seats are supportive, the updated three-spoke steering wheel gets leather and multifunction controls on the TDI and the TDI also offers lots of higher-end technology. Finally, the 60/40 split-folding rear seats, along with the hatch configuration, bring a nice dose of practicality.
The platform of the 2010 Volkswagen Golf is carried over, but its wrappings are new. The result is a sportier and more stylish look in both two- and four-door models. With a wider front end, the Golf boasts VW's new double-bar grille flanked by angled halogen headlights. The TDI model offers high-intensity xenon lamps and crystalline oval fog lights. The Golf's flowing shape is clean and athletic, hinting at the car's spirited road manners, and the rear shows off a spoiler, updated tail lights and dual exhaust. Down below, the 2.5 model gets 15-inch wheels, while the TDI rolls on beefy 17-inchers.
Notable standard equipment begins with a five-speed manual gearbox for the 2.5 and a six-speed for the TDI. For comfort and convenience, the Golf boasts heated side mirrors, cruise control, remote keyless entry and eight-way manual seat adjusters up front, including lumbar support. While the 2.5 model gets an eight-speaker CD stereo, the TDI comes with a touch-screen sound system featuring satellite radio and an in-dash six-disc CD changer; both offer MP3 readability. For cargo versatility, the rear seats will fold down on a 60/40 split. The Golf's safety features include six airbags, stability control, ABS and Brake Assist.
Top options on both Golf models - the 2.5 and the TDI - include a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, power sunroof, Bluetooth connectivity and a Cold Weather Package that includes heated seats and heated windshield washer nozzles. Options exclusive to the TDI are a touch-screen navigation system with 20-gigs of music storage, a 300-watt Dynaudio Lite premium sound system and high-intensity xenon headlamps. Rear side airbags for outboard passengers are available only on four-door Golf models.
The 2010 Volkswagen Golf is powered by one of two capable engines: A gasoline-fueled 2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder or a 2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder turbodiesel (TDI). The 2.5 produces a healthy 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. Intended specifically for the U.S., the 2.5 makes good power and is a nice fit for the American style of driving. The efficient and powerful TDI engine's specialty is its low-end output, measuring 236 pound-feet of torque at only 1750 to 2500 rpm. That's a lot of acceleration output for such a small car. Add to that performance EPA fuel economy ratings of 30 mpg city/42 mpg highway with an automatic, and the TDI is a winner on both fronts.
2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder
170 horsepower @ 5700 rpm
177 lb.-ft. of torque 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 (manual, 23/30 (automatic)
2.0-liter in-line four-cylinder direct injection turbodiesel (TDI)
140 horsepower @ 4000 rpm
236 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1750-2500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/41 (manual), 30/42 (automatic)
By Oak on Saturday, January 03, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Driving the Golf TDI is so much fun"
Cons: "Navigation data requires $99 update every 2 years."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Fun to drive. Plenty of power. Solid feel grips twisty mountain roads in worst weather conditions. Love the touchscreen and hands off bluetooth. Plays well with iPhone. Exudes high quality and feel of much higher priced German road cars. Outstanding cabin materials and construction; fuel-efficient diesel engine; spacious hatchback body style; refined driving dynamics."
14 people out of 30 found this review helpful
By VWinGeorgia on Friday, October 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 30,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great price and fun to drive"
Cons: "Should buy arm rest"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The driving experience is a lot of fun. While it feels secure, you do get the dynamic of a small fast car. Great MPG too. I use the VW Golf as a daily commuter to work, and I haven't had any problems with it ever."
34 people out of 69 found this review helpful
By Gabe on Monday, October 27, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Reason: wanted a new car
Pros: "quality, great customer care, very well built"
Cons: "Plethora of small things went wrong under warranty"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Fun to drive with a truly well built interior. I had a lot of warranty items needing attention, so it was inconvenient. The car is truly comfortable. Gas mileage was consistently 30mpg which for the 2.5L 5 cylinder was really good, and with the 5 speed manual. I really recommend the golf as a superiorly well conceived and designed car, top of its class NO DOUBT"
15 people out of 28 found this review helpful
By Anthony76 on Friday, October 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable, Great Gas Mileage, Brilliant Handling"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is my second Golf. My first was a 1996 CL, gas model. This is my first diesel powered car. I have been quite impressed with how well this car handles and corners, it's extremely tight and responsive. I also love the turbo engine, it really kicks in and the power is great. The tech package makes it really comfortable, navigation, sunroof, bluetooth, iphone charger, heated seats....really comfortable. I also noticed how quiet the interior cabin is as well. Any of my friends or family that drive this car tell me how much the love it. I love this car too and never want to sell it!"
13 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Disldub on Monday, October 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 55,555overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "fuel milage, reliable, fun to drive,"
Cons: "parts expense, no bi xenon's missing euro goodies"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have no real qualms about my Golf TDi other than the parts can be expensive off warranty, but if you are competent enough to do your own work its not to bad. To be honest for what you pay you get a pretty basic car, which in a way isn't too bad for what you get. In would of love to have seen bi-xenon headlamps standard on this high level of a car, along with real leather, and some other little things like chrome switch accents standard. I have added a bunch of European only options to mine just to make it different, but in all seriousness for what I paid to do it myself VW should of shipped them with these options. Ride is very firm, and at times rough with the tires inflated tonspex or above for max mpgs, wind noise is tolerable, road noise is not, I added about 100 pounds in sound deadener products to aid it and made a huge difference, again why not standard, when you have high end tires on it and cannot hear the radio at a comfortable level at 60-70 mph something's not right in a nearly $30 grand car new. I average 42-44 mpgs overall, even with spirited driving. I hope to have this little car for a long time coming."
7 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Jess on Sunday, October 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Not too expensive, fun to drive"
Cons: "Difficult to get in back seats"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I'm a high school student and my parents bought this car for me used to share with my brother and two other younger siblings (once they get their licenses). It terms of value and quality, the car seems top notch. The reliability is usually pretty good, but when it's raining it is difficult to accelerate through turns, which is partially the tires fault but it still is kind of frustrating. It is a super fun car to drive and the speakers are nice for long rides. In regards to the design: I'm not a huge fan. It's really cute from the outside, but the inside just does not work as well for me. Specifically, the touchscreen for the radio is dangerous to work while driving because you actually have to read it. THIS CAR DOES NOT HAVE AUTOMATIC LIGHTS. This seems like something that would be intuitive in a 2012 vehicle. Also, I got the car in the winter and every time I would drive it a random ding noise would go off and I was worried something was wrong with the car. After about a month, I realized that every time that it goes below 40 degrees outside (which is pretty much every day from November to march) the car makes this noise. My least favorite part about the car is the comfort and convenience. Being extremely short, the small height of the car is not that big of a deal. But my brother and dad are constantly complaining about how there is not enough room, especially if either has the misfortune to sit in the backseat. Although the car is able to fold the seats down for extra space, I have to leave them up and I am left with a too small trunk that, ironically, can only barely fit my golf clubs and pull cart without obstructing my rear window. Overall, if you have any tall family members or need more space go for the 4 door instead of the 2 door, you will thank yourself in time."
10 people out of 26 found this review helpful