AUSTIN, TX—Volkswagen traveled to Austin this year to launch the 2015 Golf Sportwagen. Surprisingly affordable, the Golf lineup now adds versatility with this extended version, plus impressive fuel economy.
The manufacturer remains loyal to diesel powertrains and manual transmissions (technology known for stretching a tank of fuel), offering a 2.0-liter, 150-horsepower turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel, fitted with a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The base engine is the gasoline-powered 1.8-liter, 170-horsepower turbocharged and direct-injection four-cylinder TSI engine mated to a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission.
Both engines boast impressive fuel economy, with the diesel averaging an EPA estimated 35 miles per gallon (mpg), while the 1.8-liter should average 29 mpg. On the road test that took us into the Texas Hill Country, both engines performed well with the diesel and gas engines averaging 39.5 mpg and 31.9 mpg, respectively.
As an added treat, the launch also included new experiences for this 32-year Austin resident, including dinner at Rabbit’s, the East Austin landmark known as the place Latino wheeler dealers used to congregate, and lunch at the critically acclaimed Qui Austin restaurant, also on East Sixth Street. Owned by Top Chef champion, Paul Qui, the restaurant critic’s darling was oddly missing a sign on the outside—the clientele apparently “just know” where to find it. But I digress.
Like the Jetta Sportwagen it replaces, the Golf version will appeal to families, but also active folks with cargo carrying needs. The rear seats are split and fold down easily, expanding the cargo space to 66.5 cubic feet. Plus, the roof is lower to make it easier to load bicycles and such on top.
When it comes to safety, the Sportwagen lacks some modern technology like a blind spot warning system but the 2016 model should rectify that. Standard features include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, the new Automatic Post-Collision Braking system that continues to apply brakes after a crash to avoid additional collisions, and the roadside assistance program for three-years or 36,000 miles (whichever comes first).
Available safety technology includes parking sensors and forward collision warning.
On the inside, standard creature comforts include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, steering wheel controls, a 5.8-inch touch screen infotainment center with a capacitive sensor, Sirius XM Satellite radio, Bluetooth technology, air conditioning, VW Car-Net connected services, and V-tex leatherette seating.
The TDI adds keyless entry with push-button start and a rearview camera.
A panoramic sunroof is standard on all but the base model Sportwagen.
The VW Golf impressed auto writers enough to win the 2015 North American Car of the Year honors. More versatile and fuel efficient, its new sibling should grab a bit of the spotlight as well.