2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen S 1.8T Long-Term Arrival

#hashtags: #Golf SportWagen #TDI #Volkswagen #TDI Golfs #SportWagen #Golfs

I’ve been eyeballing VW’s new Golf SportWagen ever since we named the Golf lineup our 2015 Car of the Year. Specifically I was interested a diesel-powered, manual-transmission one, the thought being that a shift-yourself wagon with a TDI makes for one unique vehicle. Unfortunately, just as I was ordering one for our fleet, Volkswagen’s diesel scandal hit the media, and Volkswagen politely informed me that TDI Golfs would not be available for the foreseeable future.

So I nixed the TDI idea but held tight to the manual transmission, which as is, and regardless of engine, only offers five forward gears, making the car feel a bit nostalgic/old-fashioned but also genuine and familiar. Insisting on a manual in a SportWagen also means being fixed with cloth seats and rather small 15-inch aluminum wheels with noticeably tall sidewalls. I was happy to endure these packaging caveats in order to be able to shift the turbo-four myself.

The wagon has now arrived at base camp, and my year-long evaluation of the German-designed wagon formerly known as a Jetta has begun. Yes, beginning with MY 2015, Volkswagen moved its wagon to the Golf platform and grouped the vehicle with the same Golf family that includes two- and four-door hatchbacks and a variety of engines. Yet the SportWagen is decidedly different from the other Golfs in that it can carry a bunch more stuff and thus is an honest alternative to crossovers such as the CR-V or RAV4.

Hard to ignore that the manual has only five speeds, and yet the ratios are all a good match for the 1.8T’s powerband.

This base model is known as a 1.8T S and comes equipped with the cloth seats; the front ones are heated and power-adjusted on the incline, but they’re manually adjusted fore and aft on the seat bottom. Also standard is a touchscreen infotainment system that features Bluetooth and USB-in. Shifting the car into reverse activates a rear camera that is hidden behind VW’s shiny badge on the rear hatch. Equipping the car with a manual transmission cuts $1,100 off the MSRP.

Other notable standard features include heated side mirrors, black roof rails, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift knob, and e-brake lever. VW also includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen that detects when your fingers are reaching for it and reacts by enlarging its digital buttons that are otherwise hidden. Absent in the base model is keyless entry/ignition, VW’s 400-watt Fender audio system, and dual-zone climate control.

Although I’m fond of wagon body styles mostly for the “Euro estate” aesthetic, for most, driving a wagon is about being able to carry bigger, wider, and longer things without having to drive a taller crossover. In order to facilitate the ease of hauling stuff, VW has equipped this new SportWagen with a lower and wider floor and rear seat-release levers mounted in the side of the cargo hold. And for more cargo-carrying ease, I added a $235 package that includes heavy-duty trunk carpet, Velcro-enabled adjustable cargo hold blocks, and thick rubber floormats. Lastly, for another $35, I added VW’s first aid kit, which is mostly cool because all Euro wagons should have first aid kits. All in, this base car with a manual transmission and very few added options has an MSRP of $22,715, including delivery. So shifting gears I go with VW’s new Golf wagon. Reporting back soon with how things progress.

2016 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TSI S 1.8T BASE PRICE $22,445 PRICE AS TESTED $22,715 VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door wagon ENGINE 1.8L/170-hp/184-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4 TRANSMISSION 5-speed manual WHEELBASE 103.5 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 179.6 x 70.8 x 58.3 in EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON 25/36/29 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 135/94 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.67 lb/mile