2010 Volkswagen Golf 3dr Road Test Review

Alexandra Straub - CAP staff
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Published on January 02, 2010

Simple lines are still attractive in a completely understated, purely Volkswagen kind of way. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 02, 2010

Feel right at home if you've driven a VW Golf or Rabbit before, although the quality is even better. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 02, 2010

Rear seat room is good and pass-through especially handy for longer items. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 02, 2010

Cargo room is good for the compact class. (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 02, 2010

Time to trade up? (Photo: Canadian Auto Press)

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Published on January 02, 2010

Over the past few years, the VW Golf has been on hiatus, sort of. In its absence it has been selling under the Rabbit name, but the cute little bunny that could has now hopped off of the road and back onto the fairway where it probably should have stayed in retirement in the first place, golfing. And with the re-introduction of the 2010 Golf comes an all-new model, something that diehard VW lovers and budding enthusiasts have been waiting for.
 
When looking at the styling of the new Golf, it appears more mature than any of the five previous generations. I find the lines to be a lot crisper, its wide grille more distinctive and its rear end very modern. It's also more aerodynamic in shape, which improves fuel efficiency and makes it quieter when driving at highway speeds.
 
As soon as I sit inside the Golf, I feel right at home. Why? Well, there isn't a lot going on and it's almost impossible to feel lost. I find that VW usually takes the minimalist approach when designing their interiors and I'm quite fond of that. Although it doesn't make for the most exciting-looking or cool cabin, sometimes less is more and this is just that. Then again, because the interior takes a minimalist approach, sometimes finding a button is not so straightforward. To be specific, there is no "AUX" button to be found. If you want to listen to your MP3 player, you'll need to press the "CD" button twice. It's not a huge deal but, to some, it might not be obvious and can lead to frustration or a trip into the glove box to find the owner's manual! The less I have to look at the owner's manual, the better.
 
Getting in and out of the Golf 3-door isn't too bad. The doors open quite wide and the front seats are usually willing to move forwards and backwards liberally to get the passengers in the back. Of course, it's still awkward to get in and out of the rear seats, but that's just the reality of a 3-door.
 
When sitting in the rear, there is a good amount of head and legroom, but I find the seats too stiff for my liking. They also feel very upright and not as relaxed as other 3-door vehicles on the market. And another note about the rear seats, if there are three passengers in the back, visibility out the rear is not so favourable. The rear window is not very wide so when there are heads obstructing the way, parallel parking and backing up requires a little more attention. Also, if the headrests are raised up, kiss the visibility goodbye. On a positive note, the Golf also has the oh-so-handy pass-through feature in the rear, which is great when transporting longer items like skis.
 
Having tested quite a few Golfs in my career, the one thing that carries over year after year is the amazing handing and ride-quality combination. It is such a fun car to drive, especially at highway speeds or in tight turns. Its stability is a cut above the rest in this class thanks to front independent McPherson struts and a multilink setup in the rear. To me, that's what makes it so memorable. It's just a good, solid car to drive.
 
The base model Golf comes with the standard 5-speed manual transmission, which is my weapon of choice. Yes, it's a lot more convenient to have the 6-speed automatic, especially with city driving, but the manual is way more fun and it gives me the ability to harness more of the 170hp and 177 lb-ft of torque from the 20-valve, DOHC, 2.5L 5-cylinder engine. The manual transmission's hydraulic clutch, mind you, is quite springy, yet a little on the stiff side too.
 
One thing I noticed when checking my blind spots while changing lanes was that the positioning of the B-pillars is further back than normal to accommodate for the larger doors. Whether it was my seating position or just the coincidence that other motorists liked to hang out in that sweet spot, I found that I second guessed myself before changing lanes. It's never a bad thing to be too careful when it comes to shifting lanes, but I just needed to be extra careful due to the awkward visibility.
 
I do notice that this cabin is a lot quieter than in older Golf's thanks to the new slipperier design. Another byproduct of the more aerodynamic styling is better fuel economy. This model uses an estimated 10.4L/100km in the city and 7.0L/100km on the highway. Granted, these don't sound like super results because they're not! It cost me just under $50 to fill up the tank and I only got about 400km out of it. I guess that's just the price to pay for driving around in such a peppy car.
 
The one thing that I find to be the biggest deterrent with the Golf is the price. This particular model, being the base model, has an MSRP of $20,175. When adding on various features the price can jump pretty high very quickly. Although it's handling is a cut above the rest, interior materials quality nicer, with all pillars finished in cloth and soft-touch plastics all over, I still find it difficult to justify the price. Throw in some heated seats, a set of alloy wheels, and not the standard steel wheels (boo for hub caps!) on 195/16R15 all-season tires, plus a sunroof and then you'll have my attention.
 
Overall, the 2010 VW Golf gets a big high-five when it comes to its styling, interior execution, ride quality and handling. Granted, it is a little lacking in the features department and its price is steep, but that's the way this cookie crumbles.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Volkswagen, VW, 2010, Golf, $20,000 - $29,999,

Organizations: Volkswagen

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