2016 Golf New Car Test Drive
The 2016 Volkswagen Golf serves as the designated adult of the compact hatchback class. It's sensibly styled inside and out, refined to a degree, and utterly composed on the road. From behind the wheel, you get that classic German feel so important to VW fans, tempered by the smooth drivability that most Americans favor.
Redesigned for 2015, the Golf receives a few tech updates for 2016, including new infotainment touchscreens that support Apple Car Play and Android Auto. A rearview camera is now standard on all but the base mode, and the newly available Driver Assistance package offers advanced accident-avoidance technology. The turbodiesel TDI model has been dropped due to emissions issues.
The Golf is offered in two-door, four-door, and wagon body styles. Most are powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower, matched to your choice of a 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. The 1.8-liter is EPA rated at 25/37 mpg City/Highway and 30 mpg Combined with the manual. Adding the automatic reduces by these ratings by 1 mpg.
Performance versions get a 2-liter turbo four-cylinder that produces 210 or 292 horsepower depending on the model. The regular 2-liter is EPA rated at 25/34 mpg City/Highway and 28 mpg Combined, while the high-output version is rated at 23/30 mpg City/Highway and 25 mpg Combined. These ratings are virtually identical with the automatic.
Golf ($18,495) comes standard with the 1.8-liter engine and all the basics, plus a cooled glovebox and an eight-speaker sound system. Golf S ($19,575) adds a rearview camera, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and an upgraded infotainment system with HD and satellite radio.
Golf SE ($25,225) gets the automatic transmission as standard, plus a sunroof, 17-inch wheels, heated front seats, leatherette upholstery (standard on wagon), and a premium Fender sound system. Golf SEL ($27,425) adds a navigation system, front sport seats with driver power, dual-zone automatic climate control, and 18-inch wheels.
GTI packs the 210-horsepower 2-liter engine and upgraded steering and suspension systems. It's available as a two- or four-door in S ($24,995) and SE ($28,025) trims. The high-performance Golf R ($35,650) comes with the 292-horsepower 2-liter, a stiffer suspension, and all-wheel drive. It comes only as a four-door in a single, well-equipped trim level.