2014 Volkswagen Golf Wagon Review
Paul Murrell’s 2014 Volkswagen Golf Wagon review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
IN A NUTSHELL By giving the Golf a bigger backside, Volkswagen has built a more practical Golf.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS The range starts with the 90TSI, steps up to the 103TSI and tops out with a diesel variant. For our money, we’d go for the 90TSI because it’s almost impossible to feel the extra 13kW from the larger engine.
IT LOOKS LIKE WAGONS ARE MAKING A COMEBACK, and not before time. The latest variant in the Golf range is perhaps the most practical of them all. From the front seat, it’s just like all other Golfs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But behind the rear seats is a truly cavernous load space that will put many SUVs to shame. The Golf wagon boasts 605 litres of luggage space (up 100 on the previous model, and two-litres larger than its big brother Passat, can you believe?). Drop the rear seats to their (almost) flat floor position and the available space rises to 1620 litres.
Now, we’re a querulous bunch at Practical Motoring, and our initial impression was that all this extra space must have come about as a result of stretching the wheelbase, but the people at Volkswagen assured us the wheelbase is exactly the same as in the Golf hatch, at 2.62m. It’s a remarkable piece of magic. The rear overhang is slightly greater, but not by much (I ran a tape measure over it and found an additional 308mm). And from this tiny change, Volkswagen has found an extra 225 litres with the seats up and 350 litres with them down. There’s no loss of legroom in the rear and even more headroom thanks to the flatter roofline.
The Golf wagon weighs in at up to 79kg more than the hatch, but a significant 165kg lighter than the model it replaces. The range starts with the 1.4-litre turbo four-cylinder engine producing 90kW and 200Nm. In a slightly higher state of tune, the same engine produces 103kW and 250Nm. On paper, that appears to be a substantial increase, but on the road, the differences are hard to pick. Both engines are mated to the seven-speed DSG gearbox, offering buyers no manual option, and fuel consumption is a claimed 5.3L/100km for the 90TSI and 5.2L/100km for the 103.
Also on offer is a turbo diesel variant. The 2.0 TDI is connected to the six-speed DSG and puts out 110kW and 320Nm, returning official fuel figures of 4.7L/100km. These figures are marginally better than the hatch due to the wagon’s 0.27Cd (0.02 better than the hatch), but the petrol versions do require more expensive 95 RON fuel.
The 90TSI is available in the two lower-spec models, the entry wagon and the better-equipped Comfortline. The 103TSI and TDI can only be had in top-spec Highline trim. The entry level model (it doesn’t get a name) comes with 5.8-inch multimedia screen, Bluetooth phone and audio, air conditioning (with rear vents), leather steering wheel and gearlever knob, cruise control with speed limiter function, heated mirrors and 15-inch alloy wheels. Comfortline models get chrome roof rails, dual-zone air con, reversing camera with front and rear parking sensors, overhead console, storage drawers beneath the front seats, auto headlights and wipers, brushed silver interior details, ski port to the rear, and 16-inch alloys. Highline models add chrome details on the front bumper and lower window trim, upgraded sports seats with partial Alcantara trim, sat nav, piano black interior details, LED interior ambient lighting and 17-inch alloys.
Options include a panoramic sunroof (with a mesh cover that to be frank won’t keep out much heat), leather trim, Bi-Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, sat nav on models not fitted with it as standard, and an anti-theft alarm system in the Comfortline and Highline models.
Heading out of an Adelaide uncharacteristically traffic-snarled by preparations for the Fringe festival and Clipsal 500 showed the Golf wagon to its best advantage. The ride is assured and solid, the performance from the 103TSI more than capable of keeping up with the traffic when it did finally move.
Once out of the chaos and on the freeway to the Adelaide Hills, the Golf tackled the fairly steep incline without pausing for breath and continued to impress on country roads that ranged from sweeping to tight and twisty. Steering feel and feedback are exemplary and the brakes progressive and confident. I came into one bend that tightened unexpectedly, forcing me to apply considerable brake pressure on a greasy road; speed was reduced without any drama or tightening of the buttocks.
Switching to the 90TSI revealed an even better ride, almost certainly a result of the higher profile tyres. The diesel only gave itself away as an oil-burner at idle, and even then, from inside it was barely discernible as not being petrol-powered.
Safety is a VW strong point. The list includes seven airbags, stability control, tyre pressure warning, hill start and brake assist, brake force distribution and an electronic differential lock once only available in the GTI. This last feature becomes more valuable as it has more power to tame – in the GTI it is fabulous, but less obvious in the 103TSI and we haven’t tried it with the 90TSI. Also standard are fatigue warning and multi-collision braking to avoid secondary collisions after an initial impact. Optional on all but the 90TSI is a driver assistance package with adaptive cruise control, auto braking (including City Emergency Brake), proactive occupant protection and automatic park assist – good value for $1300.