Review 2010 Volkswagen Golf 2.5: no need to taste the bitter root of hatchback tomfoolery

2010 VW Golf TDI - 2
Dieses Automobil ist wie deutsche Schokolade süß!

Something about this car being sweet as chocolate – I think…

Seriously folks, I have tasted the bitter root of hatchback tomfoolery (the regrettable Chevy Aveo) and kissed the pinnacle of hatchback fun (the Mazda Speed3) and I say that this 2010 Volkswagen is pound-for-pound (and dollar for dollar) one of the best hatchbacks available.

Pause for dramatic effect –

Just look at it. Take in the solid, masculine lines that accentuate what was always an attractive design. Dark, large headlight pods contrast brilliantly with the rear taillight design. The look is exactly what Volkswagen should have been aiming for. Rather than reinvent the Golf, they took a good thing and gave it angular beef. This truly fascinated me as there are nearly no components left over from last year’s design (I believe the roof panel is the only leftover).

Starting around $18,000 and realistically running to $20,000 for a well appointed example, the new Volkswagen Golf is on the pricier side for an economy hatchback. Then again, this is not a true economy car. What the 2010 Volkswagen Golf represents is a premium hatchback for a reasonable price.

Put this vehicle next to any other in its class and you may understand my meaning.

The interior materials are rivaled by Lexus and Acura rather than Toyota and Honda. Fit and finish are exemplary as is the feel of all the materials. Close the door and hear a rattle-free “thunk,” touch the materials and feel the quality – it’s just that good.

Passengers sit comfortably as the seating is firm and supportive without being too harsh. Headroom and legroom lead other compacts and interior cargo space is supremely good for such a small car. Unfortunately, the rear seats do not fold completely flat – there still is quite a bit of room.

Some slack-jawed, bed-wetting journalists have carped about the 2.5 liter 20-valve, 5-cylinder (yes – five cylinder) engine that produces 170 horsepower and 177 lbs feet of torque. Some find the power mediocre or the engine note too noisy. A few automotive ‘journalists’ shamelessly test a car during a 10-minute test drive like any other consumer. Forget spending several days and hundreds of miles in a vehicle.

Numbskulls I say…

Look at it this way: a car that weighs about 3,000 lbs with 177 lbs feet of torque is a superb combination. With 0 to 60 times floating around 8 seconds and top speeds approximating 120 mph – that’s mighty good for any hatchback. I like hearing the growl of the 5-cylinder which is audible only when you give it the beans. Otherwise, the ride is serene and (usually) rattle free. I did have an uncharacteristic rattle resonating from the front end that I suspect is a defective bushing. It got far more acoustically aggressive as Denver’s temperatures dropped below freezing.

Still, the superb cornering performance was unfazed. The independent front MacPherson strut suspension coupled with the sophisticated (for a hatch) four-link, fully independent rear suspension clung to asphalt. It is so rewarding when you turn the wheel, feel what the font tires are doing and know for certain what the rear end is going to do. Few cars impart that much information; fewer still in this price bracket.

When you do over-drive the VW Golf, simply lay off the throttle and let the suspension and steering make up for your goof. I coaxed a bit too much under-steer (on purpose) and was very pleased how quickly the Golf self corrected. Usually, the Golf hunkers down and bends into each corner. Obviously, this is far more rewarding in the brilliant GTI; all the same, cornering is quite enjoyable in the Golf.

Most impressive.

The 6-speed DSG automatic transmission is quite good as it has a very good manual mode which will allow over redline shifts. In normal mode the shifts are smooth and well spaced. Still, I would prefer a real manual option (there is no manual option on the 2.5 4-door).

I have yet to drive the 2010 TDI Golf with its superb 2.0 liter diesel, but I hear it is similar to last years’, which is to say that it has some serious grunt and excellent mileage. The 2.5 liter gets a respectable 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway. I averaged nearly 20 mpg while driving through deep snowdrifts and iced-roads like a (wanna-be) Norwegian rally driver. That’s not too shabby considering the 21 mpg I averaged in a fuel sipping Nissan Versa I drove doing the same thing (read: overtly aggressive driving) last year.

The bottom line is that this is a brilliant little car that will give the driver excellent return for their dollar.

Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car
sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out
of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to
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page HERE.