2020 Golf New Car Test Drive
The 2020 Volkswagen Golf is a compact hatchback with responsive and firm handling, fantastic cargo space, and a legendary sport hatchback edition, the GTI.
For 2020 the Golf has been cut to just three versions, including the electric e-Golf, since a redesign is coming in 2021. Gone are the highly rational SportWagen, the super-versatile Alltrack wagon, and the very high-performance Golf R.
The base front-wheel-drive Golf uses a 147-horsepower, 1.4-liter turbo-4 that pairs with either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission to enable brisk acceleration. The ride is better than the standard for compact cars.
The Golf GTI's 228-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 works well with either the standard 6-speed manual or great 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. A limited-slip front differential reduces torque steer to keep the acceleration and handling linear and trouble-free. Few small cars offer thrills like the polished and perfected GTI.
The all-electric e-Golf is the model that might change the most in 2021, as its range is just 125 miles. Around town, the e-Golf is still zippy.
The Golf with the base engine and either the manual or automatic transmission is EPA-rated at 29/37/32 mpg, on regular fuel. The GTI gets 25 mpg city, 31 highway, 27 combined with the automatic transmission, and 24/32/27 mpg with the standard 6-speed manual. VW recommends premium fuel to get the optimum engine performance, but it's not required.
The NHTSA gives the Golf five stars in safety, with four stars for frontal crash and calculated rollover. The insurance industry-funded IIHS gives the 2020 Golf its top 'Good'? rating in most categories, but only an Acceptable in the small-overlap passenger-side test that simulates impact with an object such as a telephone pole. The IIHS says that the standard halogen headlights on the Golf are 'Poor,'? but it hasn't tested the optional LEDs.
Standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking, and GTIs offer adaptive cruise control.
The base Golf is called the Value Edition, while the GTI has two models, the S and SE, and e-Golf has the SE and SEL Premium.
The Value Edition lives up to its name, with synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, automatic emergency braking, a sunroof, and keyless ignition.
The Golf GTI S comes equipped like the base Golf but with cloth sport seats and blind-spot monitors. Golf SEs add leather and an 8.0-inch touchscreen, while an Autobahn package throws in navigation, Fender speakers, and more.
The e-Golf SE is like the GTI SE. The SEL Premium adds a digital instrument cluster, a 9.2-inch touchscreen for infotainment with gesture controls, and a few other high-tech features.
VW's warranty drops this year from 6 years/72,000 miles to 4 years/50,000 miles.