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."You'll Like This Car If...
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.You May Not Like This Car If...
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.What's Significant About This Car?
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.
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
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.Notable Optional Equipment
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.Under the Hood
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)
The base two-door 2010 Volkswagen Golf 2.5 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of under $18,500, roughly $1,400 more than the outgoing Rabbit. The price for the four-door 2.5 is closer to $20,000. For stronger performance and better mileage, the TDI model is the right choice, but be prepared to pay. The two-door Golf TDI has a base MSRP of nearly $23,000, while the four-door TDI begins around $23,500. Overall, the 2.5 model is priced a good bit higher than most compacts but, compared to its closest hatchback rivals – the MAZDA3 and the MINI Cooper – it's pretty much right on par. To get the best deal on your Golf, be sure to check out our Fair Purchase Prices, which indicate what others in your area are paying for theirs. In terms of what the Golf will be worth a few years down the road, we see it as being on par with the MAZDA3 and just slightly below the MINI Cooper.