By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that this vehicle's diesel engine is involved in a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act issued by the EPA to Volkswagen for producing and selling 4-cylinder diesel cars that include a software device that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) determined that these diesel cars emit up to 40 times more pollution than emission standards allow. Recalls, investigations and litigation are currently ongoing.
The 2016 Volkswagen Golf is no longer just a single model – it’s become an entire model line unto itself. Beyond the well-established 2-door and 4-door Golf hatchbacks, the Golf family also includes the roomy Golf SportWagen, an electric eGolf and the performance-oriented GTI and Golf R. Redesigned last year, the Golf is the largest it has ever been, providing better rear-seat and cargo space and a smoother ride. What hasn’t change for VW’s entry-level car is its affordable base price, a choice between gasoline and diesel engines and a long list of standard and available features. Not a VW fan? The Mazda3 has less horsepower but better fuel economy, while the Hyundai Elantra GT offers a better warranty and more standard features.
The VW Golf for 2016 offers European-inspired handling, safety and interior design, which make even the most basic Golf feel more polished and upscale than most domestic and Asian competitors. The diesel engine delivers impressive fuel economy and acceleration, while the GTI and Golf R will thrill driving enthusiasts.
The 2016 Golf gains a new MIB II infotainment audio system with VW Car-Net App-Connect technology. The system can support Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. The Golf’s Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitor, Lane Assist and Park Assist.
Volkswagen’s Golf for 2016 offers a number of engines and trims, with the most popular being the 1.8-liter gasoline TSI and the 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel. TSI and TDI models have...
... similar suspension setups delivering excellent driving dynamics without a harsh ride. Acceleration from the base engine is surprisingly strong, but it’s the diesel’s abundance of torque that makes it the quicker of the two. The gas engine can be paired with either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, the diesel with a 6-speed manual or the DSG automatic. Those seeking better performance can opt for the 210-horsepower GTI, which comes complete with sport seats, sport suspension and an available DSG automatic gearbox. The Golf R takes everything good about the GTI and ramps it up, with 292 horsepower and 4motion all-wheel drive that allow the R to sprint to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
CENTER-CONSOLE TOUCH SCREEN
The 2016 VW Golf’s standard audio system includes a 5.8-inch color touch screen with built-in capacitive touch sensor to simulate smartphone technology. The setup allows for gesture control, such as swiping and pinch zooming.
XDS CROSS DIFFERENTIAL SYSTEM
Derived from the performance-oriented GTI, this electronic substitute for a traditional limited-slip differential uses the inside brakes to help prevent understeer, a common problem on front-wheel-drive cars.
The VW Golf or 2016 continues a tradition of having an upscale look to its interior, using high-quality materials, soft-touch surfaces and, on higher trims, piano-black accents. The cabin has generous shoulder room in both rows. Cargo volume is 16.5 cubic feet below the parcel shelf and 22.8 cubic feet to the roof. Loading is made easy thanks to a low liftover in the rear hatch. The rear seat has a 60/40-split rear-folding back, expanding the load space to 52.7 cubic feet when lowered. There’s plenty of front-seat storage in the center console and door panels.
Despite a complete makeover last year, the 2016 VW Golf line is instantly recognizable. While the 2-box profile is the same, all the surfaces appear to be highly tailored with crisp character lines that start at the base of the steeper hood and new narrow horizontal grille, which is flanked by sharper headlight clusters. The distinctive C-pillar treatment recalls earlier Golf generations, adding to the familiarity of the overall look. The car sits low to the ground and has a wide track, giving it a more muscular, purposeful appearance. The Golf R and e-Golf are 4-door only.
Among the standard features are power windows and door locks, air conditioning, a touch-screen infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius XM satellite radio, and a media-device interface with iPod integration. S models feature aluminum-alloy wheels, V-Tex Leatherette seating, steering-wheel controls, rearview camera and cruise control. Four-door models also have partial-power front seats. Golf SE models add push-button start and the Fender Premium Audio System. SEL models feature 18-inch alloy wheels, navigation and sport comfort seats with 12-way-power adjustment. In addition to blistering performance, the Golf R offers leather seats, automatic climate control and bi-xenon headlights.
A 6-speed automatic transmission is available on TSI models, as is the exclusive Fender audio system. A driver-assistance package – available throughout the Golf line – features forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane assist, blind-spot warning and front and rear park-distance control. The 6-speed DSG automatic is optional on the GTI and the diesel TDI. On the GTI, options include an adaptive-damping system and a performance package, which includes larger brakes. Golf R models can be further upgraded with VW's DCC adaptive-damping system that can tailor the car for Comfort, Normal or Race modes.
Golf engines include a turbocharged gasoline 4-cylinder in 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter displacements. The 1.8-liter engine is available with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, while the GTI's 2.0-liter comes with a 6-speed manual transmission or, optionally, the 6-speed DSG automatic. The 292-horsepower 2.0-liter Golf R has all-wheel drive and new for 2016 a 6-speed manual along with an available DSG. The diesel-powered Golf is paired with a 6-speed manual or the optional DSG automatic transmission. Unleaded regular is recommended on the 1.8-liter TSI, while the 2.0-liter GTI and R require premium fuel. The e-Golf uses an electric motor and has an estimated range of 83 miles. It can recharge in about four hours on a 240-volt outlet and is compatible with DC fast-charging stations.
1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Golf, SportWagen)
170 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm
200 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/37 mpg (manual), 25/36 mpg (manual, SportWagen), 25/36 mpg (automatic), 25/35 mpg (automatic, SportWagen)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (GTI)
210 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm
220 horsepower @ 4,700 (optional performance pack)
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (manual), 25/33 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4 (TDI)
150 horsepower @ 3,500 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/45 mpg (manual), 31/43 mpg (automatic)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Golf R)
292 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (manual), 23/30 mpg (automatic)
AC synchronous electric motor (e-Golf)
115 horsepower @ 3,000 rpm
199 lb-ft of torque @ 0-3,000 rpm
EPA-estimated range per full charge: 83 miles
EPA city/highway fuel economy equivalent: 126/105 mpge
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for VW’s 2016 Golf 2-door hatch is $19,315 including destination charges, which is competitive against Kia Forte, Ford Focus, Mazda3 and Subaru Impreza. The S model is $20,395 for a 2-door and $20,995 for the 4-door. SE models start at $26,045 and the top-line SEL starts at $28,215. Diesel models add about $1,000. The sporty GTI starts at $25,815 and tops out at $33,550. The 4-door Golf R starts around $38,000. . The e-Golf begins just over $36,000 before incentives and is available in California, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. To make your best deal, check KBB’s Fair Purchase Price, which shows what others paid for their Golf. Traditionally, Golfs tend to play on the weaker side of the residuals field, although values for the TDI diesel and GTI trims tend to be much higher.