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  2016 Volkswagen Golf

2015 - 2019 Volkswagen Golf

VMR Scorecard (1 worst - 5 best)

Performance Ride Handling Interior
4 4 4.5 4.5
Reliability Safety Cost to Own Value
4 4.5 4 4


The launch of the seventh generation of the Volkswagen Golf represented a major turning point in the car’s history: It was now a family of vehicles that included 2-door and 4-door hatchbacks, a performance option in the Golf GTI and, in the wings, the Golf R, the Golf SportWagen, and an all electric e-Golf. The new Golf family offered a little bit of something for everyone, but in its most basic hatchback form, it grew larger, offered gasoline, diesel and electric 4-cylinder power plants, yet it still retained the practical and fun-to-drive attributes that have served a loyal customer base well over the years. It looked good, drove well, got better fuel economy, featured a better than average interior with many standard features and could be optioned up to a premium car without breaking $30k. The 2015 model won numerous American and Canadian “Best” awards as well as the North American Car of the Year, World Car of the Year, and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS.

What’s Available

American trim levels included the S, SE and SEL. Comparable Canadian trim levels were the Trendline, Comfortline and Highline. All models were 4-cylinder with a standard 5-speed manual transmission which could be optioned to a TDI – 6-speed DSG Automatic. The base model was available as a 2 or 4 door hatchback while the mid and top trims were only available as a 4 door. Compared to competitors, the Golf was generously outfitted.

The base interior included cloth upholstery, air conditioning, standard power windows with one-touch automatic up/down all around, tilt and telescopic steering, eight-way adjustable front seats with adjustable lumbar support, a multifunction trip computer, a colour 5.8-inch touchscreen "Composition Media" infotainment system with eight-speaker AM/FM/CD audio, satellite radio, Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod connectivity, SD card input, voice activation, and Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, dual front and rear reading lights and more. Mid level trims included a multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise control, a leather-wrapped shift knob and handbrake grip, plus a rearview camera, powered recline for heated front seats, front fog lamps with static cornering lights, and automatic post-collision braking, while the leatherette upholstery is upgraded to real leather, the Comfort seats to Sport seats with 12-way power adjustment for the driver, and the 16-inch alloy wheels get replaced by 17-inch rims on 225/45R17 all-season rubber.

Top of the line models included a chrome grille, proximity-sensing KESSY keyless access with pushbutton ignition, automatic headlights with coming and leaving home function plus automatic high beam control, rain-sensing wipers, Climatronic dual-zone electronic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, special chrome matte trim on the dashboard and door inserts, a powered tilt and slide panoramic sunroof, LED reading lights, interior ambient lighting, and more.

Strengths Weaknesses

Strong Safety Scores

Interior quality

Space Efficiency

Ride/Handling Balance

Pricier than Competition

Service Costs Above Average


This generation Golf is lower, longer, and wider than before, but styling has hardly changed. It maintains the practical, familiar look dating back to the first Golf/Rabbit in 1974. The newest version is larger but just as crisp and still shares the characteristic VW front end with the previous generation: oblong headlamps at the outermost corners, and a small air inlet with horizontal bars and a large round VW badge stretching between them. On the latest Golf, the fender tops are slightly lower than the hood, the wheels pulled closer to the front and the roofline is slightly arched. It favors simple curves and gentle sculpting over the sharp edges and angled creases of its Japanese competition.

Interior Space

Again, no dramatic changes to the interior design but still an attractive layout. Unlike competitors that gave buyers no upholstery choice in base trim, Golf gave buyers a choice between Titan Black or Shetland beige cloth upholstery at no extra charge. Additionally, there were fabric-wrapped front roof pillars, a full soft-touch dash top, and soft-touch door uppers up front - again not found in most competitor models. You do get standard power windows with one-touch automatic up/down all around (some so-called premium cars don't even offer this). The strength of the design was in the familiar layout of major controls. The touch screen is rather small and surrounded by clearly marked buttons for main menus, knobs for volume and tuning. Heating and A/C or the automatic climate control is controlled by three large dials that are easy to identify. A large speedometer and tachometer fill the gauge cluster, with a small information screen nestled between the two.

2015 VW GTI interior
Our favorite cabin of all the compacts, the retro plaid is a GTI trademark.
2016 VW SportWagen
The SportWagen offers all the virtues of the Golf with more room for your stuff.


With 5-passenger comfort and the cargo space of a midsize sedan there is adequate interior space throughout. The new Golf, like many competitors, is bigger than before - 2.5 inches longer and a half-inch wider. As far as the cabin is concerned, the overall difference is marginal, but lack of space has never been a complaint for these vehicles—they’re quite space efficient. The Golf has comfortable and supportive front seats and seating proves comfortable and accommodating in the rear as well. There's also a good amount of small-item storage throughout the cabin. It features a front armrest with a storage compartment, a folding rear armrest with two integrated cup holders, a cargo area parcel shelf, a two-position cargo load floor and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat with a pass-through behind the armrest. Golf’s have traditionally led in cargo capacity and the 2015 model offered 17.4 cubic feet (490 litres ) behind the rear seats under the parcel shelf, 23.7 cubic feet (670 litres) with the parcel shelf removed, and 52.7 cubic feet (1,520 litres) when the 60/40 split-folding seatbacks are laid flat. Comparatively, the Mazda3 Sport, the Focus and Elantra GT all offer less cargo capacity.

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Volkswagen Golf,  Page 2

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