2012 Volkswagen Golf Sportline: Classic hatchback remains a good choice

Auto review by Veeno Dewan

The Volkswagen Golf has always been one of my favorite cars and for good reason: It has a great heritage, decent build quality, fine engineering and has always been a practical, fun to drive car. It is also available in a number of permutations to suit different buyers and driver needs. The fast and exciting GTI and Golf R models offer superb performance, the cabriolet offers open top thrills; and of course the five-door and three-door model hatchbacks offer great flexibility. There is even a wagon version of the Golf. Not forgetting there is a choice of gas engines and the excellent TDI diesel models that offers amazing fuel economy.

For 2012 there are a few changes to the smooth, contemporary looking Golf. Air conditioning replaces climate control on 2.5 Trendline hatchback models. A Connectivity Package adds multifunction steering wheel and multifunction trip computer. Note rear seat side airbags are no longer available.

The two-door comes with a 2.5-litre five-cylinder gasoline engine, while the four-door and wagon use the 2.5-litre or a 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel (TDI) engine. The 2.5-litre mates to a five-speed manual or optional six-speed automatic, while the diesel uses a six-speed manual or optional six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). Both automatic transmissions include manual shift mode. The four-door Comfortline adds 16-inch alloy wheels, heated washer nozzles, front and rear floor mats, heated seats, and leather-wrapped wheel. The TDI also adds fog lights.

The four-door Highline adds two-zone climate control, fog lights, power sunroof, six-CD/MP3 stereo, Sirius satellite radio, iPod interface, Bluetooth connectivity, multifunction steering wheel, leather upholstery, electronic stability control, and hydraulic brake assist. The Highline wagon model also includes a multifunction trip computer.

The four-door Golf is available with the 170hp 2.5-litre unit in Sportline trim as tested. The wagon comes with the 2.5-litre in Trendline trim, with the 2.5-litre or TDI in Comfortline trim, and with the diesel only in Highline trim. Our nice looking four- door Sportline model came in a lovely shade of “Shark fin blue metallic” with cool- looking 17- inch five-spoke alloys.

Features on the four-door Sportline we put tested added air conditioning, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals, black window surrounds, variable intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, anti-theft alarm, cruise control, illuminated glovebox and cargo area, keyless entry, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, eight-way manual cloth seats with driver’s power recline, 60/40 split-folding rear seat with centre armrest and pass-through, and auto up/down windows. Our tester also featured the $775 connectivity package with Bluetooth phone connection, MIDI media device interconnectivity, the multifunction steering wheel and the multifunction trip computer.
The Golf interior is still a study in smart, elegant design with sensible, ergonomic controls. The seats in the Golf are very supportive and comfortable and the build quality and general fit and finish is as good and reassuring as ever.

The Golf feels very capable and confident on the road. A severe arctic storm that brought deep snow and slippery road for two weeks did nothing to upset the Golf’s composure. The suspension soaking up road bumps and the anti skid and ABS meant braking on the ice was not a scary proposition. Steering feel is solid and responsive and I have to say the Golf is still as much fun as previous generations to drive. Fuel efficient, comfortable and eminently refined the Golf is not the most powerful compact hatchback in it class, but is still amongst the best in my opinion. Highly recommended.

2012 Volkswagen Golf Sportline priced from $24,250.

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