There are only two vehicles that sold more than a million units across the world, and one of them is the Volkswagen Golf. VW’s bread and butter vehicle, the three- and five-door hatchback and station wagon, offer buyers excellent road manners, a spacious and well-finished cabin, plus an all-turbocharged engine lineup that ranges from mild to wild.
2016 marks the return of the Golf R, and it’s the most potent iteration of the performance hatchback yet. Its turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder produces 292 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque and is delivered through 4Motion all-wheel drive. This time around, the R can be had with a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG automated manual. Standard adaptive dampers and a refined cabin also make it the most polished Golf R to date, too.
For 2016 Volkswagen has primarily focused on enhancing the Golf’s technology having just redesigned the model last year. All models gain Volkswagen’s new App Connect Smartphone integration which includes Android Auto, Apple Car Play and USB ports. A reverse camera is also standard. Most Golfs use a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, with the exception of the GTI Performance and Golf R, which feature a stunning 8.0-inch display.
Also enhanced are the Golf’s active safety features. The high-end Golf Highline and most GTI trims get blind-spot warning as standard (optional on Golf Comfortline, unavailable on the base GTI three-door). VW has also given the Golf near-semi-autonomous driving capabilities with full-speed radar cruise control with stop and go ability, emergency autonomous braking, lane-keeping assist, and a parking assistant. This setup is available as an option on the Golf Highline, GTI Autobahn, and Golf R. It’s standard on range-topping GTI Performance trim.
Volkswagen has nixed several options packages, instead opting to bolster the level of standard equipment on various trims. Cruise control, for example, is now standard on the Trendline, while the Comfortline gets dual-zone automatic climate control, plus a proximity key with push-button start. Golf Wagons get new wheels – 16-inch units are now standard on the base Trendline, with Comfortline and Highline getting 17- and 18-inch wheels, respectively.
The Golf hatchback and Sportwagon come powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder that develops 170 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. The 1.8 comes paired to either a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, and unlike VW’s previous 1.8T, will run on regular unleaded. The GTI uses a slightly larger 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that develops 210 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The GTI Performance adds an extra 10 hp, plus a locking differential and adaptive dampers for further on-road thrills. The GTI can be had with a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG automated manual. Presently the 2.0-litre TDI is unavailable in any Golf due to an emissions-related stop-sale.
The 2016 Golf Trendline 3-door starts at $18,995 and tops out at $29,495 for the Highline 5-door. The Golf Sportwagon sells for $22,795. The performance-oriented GTI starts at $28,595, while R pricing kicks off at $39,995.