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 Ace on Sunday, March 01, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "A Golf on steroids."
Cons: "Unable to turn off the AWD"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Traded my 2009 GTI w/80k miles for the 2013 R. Loved the GTI but wanted the increased hp and the awd that the R offered. Understated power-machine (proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing). Raced against my '07 Cayman S a couple of times and the R gave the Porsche a run for the money. Potent, well-balanced engine, wunderbar 6-speed and very precise steering. A street-legal go-kart. Simply a superior product."
By SSparky on Saturday, January 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,800overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, quick yet practical."
Cons: "None of significance."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"20k in less than a year of ownership and flawless so far. Fun to drive with a healthy aftermarket if you're so inclined. After reviewing and testing my 3 choices, Ford Focus ST, Suburu WRX and the GTI, the VW won out on fit and finish over the WRX and it's simple logical controls and dash layout over the Ford. Not without it's negs though, I would like to have an auto dimming rearview mirror and the HVAC controls should be skewed toward the driver for readability. Good gas mileage even at speeds that get you to places quickly. Good price for me since it was the last, new 2013 on the lot."
10 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By XFalconPlt on Wednesday, December 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,831overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive."
Cons: "Low reliability."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Reliability is substandard. First water pump replaced before 11000 miles. Second and third water pump replaced in late Nov.14. Never again VW! Should have bought a Toyota or Honda. All this before 20900 miles."
10 people out of 20 found this review helpful
By Deeeej on Monday, October 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Safety, economy, customization, reliability"
Cons: "FWD, heavy, value"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Where to start. I have been driving VW vehicles for years now. This is actually my third GTI and have had a few Audi's as well. When it comes to reliability there is no need to worry. Being a VW, prices for maintenance are not high surprisingly, very easy to work on, and will give you relief knowing it won't let you down. The MK6 generation in my humble opinion is one of THE best looking GTI models that has been released. That was actually my first draw to the vehicle. It has a very aggressive look from the front and rear. And every body line starts at one corner of the vehicle and can be followed all the way around the car. Something that I love. Compared to the MK7 which has body lines that just drop off in random places and end suddenly. Not to mention the amount of customization you can do to make the car look that much more unique (ie. LED tails, Xenon headlights, R bumpers, etc.) Inside the vehicle is very well equipped with bluetooth, optional RNS headunits, sunroof, and interlagos/leather depending on the edition GTI. Mine is constantly streaming Spotify through the bluetooth via my Premium 8 headunit. And not to mention the hands free wheel controls for any phone calls and music controls. I could not live without that now. My GTI in particular has the interlagos as well, and I love the look of it. Actually, everyone that has ever seen it or been in my car has complimented it. Heated seats are a great touch especially in the Chicago winters. The "bucket" style seats up front are very comfortable and have lots of adjustment, however I feel the bolstering is a little too wide so hard cornering does make you slide in the seat a little unless you have an extremely wide back and huge thighs to keep you hugged and planted. The rear offers plenty of room for my son's Recaro seat and the 60/40 split is a great feature to give you plenty of cargo room for hauling boxes or small furniture. I'm still amazed at how much room there is inside. Something that I started noticing a week into driving is how quiet it is compared to all the previous models and other makes. There is A LOT of sound deadening and reduced whistle noise at high speeds thanks to redesigned mirrors and doors. Along with that, I kept finding more and more storage compartments and cup/bottle holders all over the front. So, if you like to keep a lot of stuff in your vehicle there is definitely adequate room for everything. Also, having 4+ star crash ratings overall was another selling point for me. You can definitely feel the rigidity of the vehicle with the extra steel in the pillars and the seam welded roof. I dare you to open any door on this car, and stand on the window frame or even the door handle/controls and jump on it. The door won't go anywhere. Do that with any other competition car and you'll see a quality difference without a doubt. Trust me, I've done it... The power delivery from the 2.0 is more than enough stock. And you can definitely feel the torque as well. And with some simple APR modifications you can definitely have a FWD hot hatch that can keep up or walk away from V8 counterparts in totally different leagues. It's a great feeling and no one would suspect it from such a small hatch. Definitely a sleeper vehicle with the right driver. Overall the car has been great to me. I love the customization you can achieve with the vehicle while still keeping the reliability. The comfort inside has been great and you feel safe and cocooned in your little shell. I've gotten to know many people in the VW community thanks to this car. Anyone from their teens and some married couples in their 50s who just want a fun and economical car. You can't put this vehicle with a certain demographic because, well, everyone I've came across loves it. Try one out, I can almost certainly guarantee that you'll find some attachment to the vehicle and want to take it home."
8 people out of 14 found this review helpful
By CLMendelson on Saturday, September 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Without a doubt...the best car I have ever owned. If you can only have one car in your family...this is the car. Very quick, nice interior, quality is superb, enough room to with the hatchback to haul stuff. I could not be happier with this purchase."
12 people out of 19 found this review helpful
By Burining in Babylon on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable and roomy for a 'compact' car.."
Cons: "None as of 7k miles!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Ive had countless cars, sports, muscle, a few luxury as well. And this is one of, if not my favorite car ive owned.. I battle with the idea of trading it in for a Benz, but without REAL leather seats im not going to pay 50-60k for a car, the value just isn't there.. The GTI Atbn is smooth, quiet, comfortable to ride in even with the 18 inch wheels and 40 series tires. It is good on gas but has the turbo for a little fun every so often, and is made with quality materials in and out.. There are no rattles or vibrations, which is one the reasons I cant stand most American cars.. Overall I would buy it again with no hesitation!"
20 people out of 36 found this review helpful