By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.5
2013 is the final year for this sixth-generation VW Golf; an all-new model should arrive in the U.S in 2014. But, considering its age, the current Golf/GTI/Golf R is holding up pretty well, this despite fierce competition from newer cars such as the Ford Focus and Hyundai Elantra. Available in either 2- or 4-door hatchback form, the Golf provides a versatile cabin composed of quality materials and some of the most comfortable and supportive seats in the business. The turbocharged GTI and R trims provide affordable performance in a practical package. But, it's the diesel-powered TDI models that really impress, with gobs of torque for fast starts and a highway fuel-economy rating of 42 mpg.
If you're looking for small hatchback that is as fun to drive as it is versatile, Volkswagen's 2013 Golf deserves your attention. In GTI form, the Golf delivers go-kart-like performance without sacrificing comfort or economy, and the TDI offers the best fuel economy in the segment.
The Golf can be pricey, especially when compared to comparably equipped models from Hyundai, Kia, Ford and Mazda. Some may find that the big wheel/tire package on the GTI and Golf R renders a rather harsh ride.
For 2013, the manual transmission is dropped from the base Golf 4-door model, while all cars now have a standard front center armrest and front and rear floor mats. The GTI gets a new golf-ball-style shifter and new wheels.
Driving Impressions Because it shares the same platform and major suspension components as the GTI, the 2013 VW Golf enjoys a level of solidity and stability rarely found in an entry-level model....The Golf's ride is smooth, its steering direct and responsive and its cabin luxury-car quiet. The 5-cylinder gasoline engine won't overwhelm you with either power or personality, but is more than up to the job. The 2.0-liter TDI diesel is our favorite choice, providing acceleration almost as rapid as the GTI's turbocharged engine with fuel economy that can't be beat. Opt for the 200-horsepower GTI and you have a confluence of both more capability and an almost serene driving environment – this isn't the hot hatch for a youngster, it's the responsive hatch for a youthful psychology. If you're lucky enough to secure the all-wheel-drive Golf R, plan for high-speed driving at any appropriate venue in any appropriate season.
TDI DIESEL ENGINE
With all of the discussion surrounding hybrid and electric powertrains, diesel remains the well-proven leader in efficiency and longevity. The 2013 Golf's 2.0-liter TDI is efficient, versatile and responsive. That combination should please both the enthusiast behind the wheel and the accountant keeping track of monthly costs.
The Golf's interior design may not be as cutting edge as is the Ford Focus or Hyundai Elantra, but its Audi-like materials, fit and finish leave everyone else running to catch up.
Volkswagen describes the 2013 Golf interior as one that continues to "set the quality benchmark in its class." And we wouldn't disagree; the Golf employs a mixture of design and execution rarely found at window stickers fully twice that of the Golf. Throughout the Golf interior, from seat choices to the dash and center stack, you'll not be disappointed by the Golf's visual and tactile performance. And its functional acumen is underscored by an info-centric dash, form-fitting bucket seats and high-lift tailgate. The GTI and Golf R take the interior one step further, with an ergonomic steering wheel, aggressive sport seats and more comprehensive instrumentation.Exterior
Visually the 2013 Golf/GTI doesn't veer far from the boxy formula that has been the car's trademark since its introduction nearly 40 years ago. The crisp, shark crease running the length of the Golf adds, we're told, "visual movement" to the car, while its sweptback headlights heighten the Golf's athletic look. On the Golf TDI Clean Diesel with the Tech Package are LED daytime running lights that sit along the sides and base of the headlights. The 2013 Golf is an evolution of a design that worked from the git-go, and continues to work because its design team refuses to dramatically alter its innate goodness.
Standard equipment on the 2013 VW Golf includes a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, power windows with auto up/down, air conditioning, split-folding rear seat with armrest and pass-through, radio with single CD, and dual polished exhaust tips. Adding the Convenience Group ups the ante with heated front seats and Bluetooth technology. Convenience-and-Sunroof goes beyond the addition of the sunroof with Premium VIII touch-screen radio, Sirius satellite radio and an MDI with an iPod cable. The GTI and Golf R receive unique fascias and badging, along with a stance – via more aggressive rubber – that conveys both higher ambition and capabilities.
Most notable among choices in the VW showroom is the 2.0-liter TDI diesel. Car companies with operations in the U.S. have been uniformly slow in adapting diesel's benefits – abundant torque and high efficiency – to U.S.-based (or bound) platforms. VW and Mercedes continue to show the way, and the benefits of the diesel in a Golf-sized package are many. Beyond the diesel, we'd cite the Golf's available DSG gearbox (optional on diesel-equipped Golfs), whose efficiency and immediacy are a perfect complement to the diesel's 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque.
Although the Golf's base 5-cylinder powerplant doesn't receive a huge amount of love from VW's enthusiast base, it's proven to be eminently sensible for the cut-and-thrust of daily driving, offering reasonable horsepower, smoothness and efficiency; its most damning descriptive is that it's simply not much fun. That can't be said for the 2.0 TDI, offering abundant torque, awesome efficiency and a driving experience as visceral as VW. Given the diesel's $5K premium, however, you should weigh your driving needs, and costs, carefully. You'll need to drive a significant amount in a diesel to recover its higher initial purchase price. Performance enthusiasts can enjoy the GTI's warmed-up 2.0-liter turbo-4 offering 200 horsepower, or its more boosted variation – with 256 horsepower – available in the Golf R.
2.5-liter inline-5 (Golf)
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg (manual), 24/31 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbodiesel inline-4 (TDI)
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (GTI)
200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 mpg (manual), 24/33 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Golf R)
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
243 lb-ft of torque @ 2,400-5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 mpg
By Alberto on Saturday, March 21, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fuel efficient, sporty suspension, a lot of torque"
Cons: "Road noise, expensive"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"The car has been great since I got it new in October 2011 (2012 model) EGR valve went bad during the waranty period but no onther malfunction since then. I have got from 68 MPGs downhill (Ruidoso to Roswell NM) and 58 MPGs at constant 65 mph (Austin to Dallas TX) all the way down to 26 MPGs during an enthusiasts run (we were constantly going over 100 MPH and then back down to speed limits) The nav system had a feature of a stopover destination before your final destination but I used it once and when I turned the car back on the NAV didnt work properly. It insisted that I never reached the stopover destination, so it didnt want to tell me how to get to my final destination. I never used that feature again and I never had another problem with the nav. Other than that the nav was very good, and fast. I liked the speed limit information. While the car is moving, the nav has a very anoying warning saying that you should not operate the keyboard while in motion. You can just OK that and continue. The materials inside feel upscale. Buttons feel properly put toguether. I really like the cabin. This car feels well planted to the ground and speed becomes decieving. It is very stable at high speeds and confortable at low speeds. Well balanced stock suspension. Even by closing the door you can immediately tell how well built this car is. I love cars and I really wish I could afford to keep this car while buying something else at the same time. Almost forgot, road noise is so bad on some roads that you cant use the bluetooth for calls. That is my major complain with the car."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Laina on Saturday, March 07, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "engineering, build, handling, fun to drive"
Cons: "slow derfroster, heater controls"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Reliable, fun to drive, excellent fit and finish. A bit tight inside, especially in winter attire. Radio and CD have fine sound. Good snow handling with winter tires. Downside: Diesel takes 10 minutes to warm up in winter, so slow defroster. Heat controls are tiny, hard to read and not intuitive. Diesel fuel costs can cancel out higher mileage ratings."
7 people out of 15 found this review helpful
By Blue Ranger on Thursday, January 29, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Base model has everything you need"
Cons: "2.5 I5 engine not so frugal with gas"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I found a dealer demo 2011 Golf with 6k miles on it in the spring of 2012. It was priced about $5,0000 below original sticker price of $21k. The base model lacks interior features like center armrest storage bins and the plastic wheel covers look cheap. It still had bluetooth, heated mirrors and power everything, however. I last owned a VW about 20 years ago and I missed the handling it had. Something about their combination of steering, braking, suspension and acceleration just wasn't there in the Ford, Dodge or Hondas I've owned more recently. This Golf has only left me stranded once. The factory battery died in the oppressive August heat of Texas, but it was 3 years old. Thanks to a short commute, I drive less than 10k miles per year and it is mostly city driving. My combined mileage is usually around 22 MPG which I wish was a higher number. The weird 5 cylinder 2.5 engine is no longer offered on new VW's and I think that is a good thing. If I had a long commute I would probably gotten something like a Honda Fit. The service/oil change intervals are 10k miles and the first three were free. When I hit 40k miles this fall, the dealer says to expect to pay around $500. There is an independent Audi-VW shop near me that charges about $325 for that service. My car is out of warranty (36 month/30k miles) so I may opt to take it there. Overall, I am still happy with the driving experience and the fact that I have paid zero for anything except a battery, a tire damaged by road debris, and new wipers. This car is roomy and practical enough for me and I expect with proper maintenance I could keep driving it without major problems at least until it is a decade old."
17 people out of 42 found this review helpful
By Alen on Friday, January 23, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought my golf in 2010 brand new. Never had any issues after 45000 miles. Low cost to maintain the car as well. I will try to keep it as long as i can. If you are looking for a low budget car with no headaches, this is the one!"
8 people out of 20 found this review helpful
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."
16 people out of 38 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."
36 people out of 71 found this review helpful