We’re not sure what Volkswagen was thinking, but smaller is not better when it comes to an engine. Yet that’s exactly what the Volkswagen brain trust decided to do with the 2019 Golf.
The new VW compact hatchback has a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine with a mere 147 horsepower, a reduction of 23 hp from last year’s 1.8-liter model. However, the revised engine, which is also in the Volkswagen Jetta, has increased the torque, resulting in a slight drop in overall performance.
Volkswagen certainly offers an array of vehicles under the Golf flag. There are five other variations from the standard Golf – the GTI, Golf R, SportWagen, Alltrack wagon and energy-efficient e-Golf. Despite the lack of size, the Golf models share an affinity for being able to carry a fairly sizable load.
Although sport utility vehicles are still arguably the vehicle of choice as a hauler, don’t discount the compact wagons and hatchbacks as the next-best thing.
The standard Golf is offered in two trims (S, SE), but there’s only one engine selection. The competition is fierce in the compact hatchback class. Notables include the Honda Civic, Kia Forte, all-new Mazda 3, Hyundai Elantra GT, and Subaru Impreza.
The Golf engine is a turbo 1.4-liter, four-cylinder that generates 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. We’ve found it to be a bit lagging up steep hills and pokey around turns in lower gears.
Besides a new engine, the Golf also offers a new eight-speed automatic that Volkswagen says is quicker and smoother. A six-speed manual transmission replaces the outdated five-speed and adds a bit more fun for drivers who prefer shifting gears.
The performance may be down, but the fuel economy is up. The 2019 Golf gets between 29-37 mpg, a 4-mpg improvement over last year’s model.
One of the cool features regarding the Golf is the handling. The squared-off, front-wheel drive hatchback can provide an enjoyable ride on challenging roads that require some dexterity. The steering is extremely responsive and gives the driver a true feeling of confidence. The lone negative is the brake pedal takes some getting used to because one has to use additional pressure to stop the car.
2019 Volkswagen Golf
- Performance: turbocharged 1.4-liter, four-cylinder, 147 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 29-37 mpg
- Price estimate: $21,950 to $25,400
- Warranty: 6 years/72,000 miles; drivetrain: 6 years/72,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years/36,000; corrosion: 7 years/100,000
One major interior plus with the Golf is space. It has a very roomy cargo area that measures 22.8 cubic feet, big enough to haul a sizable number of grocery bags or other items. That space more than doubles when the back seat is down, expanding to 53.7 cubic feet, one of the largest in the compact hatchback class.
The front seats are about average in terms of head and leg room, while the back seat offers plenty of headroom for even taller folks. Although fine for two people, the rear seating is a squeeze for three adults. The Golf has a fair amount of soft-touch surfaces throughout and the faux-leather door trim gives the interior an appealing look.
The 6.5-inch touchscreen has Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard and so is an eight-speaker sound system. Technology is modest and could use some updating.
Overall, the Golf is a good buy for someone shopping for a modestly-priced hatchback. It lacks the performance capability of some rivals, but does deliver good handling, a fine interior with excellent cargo space, and solid fuel economy.
Weidel on Wheels is featured periodically on www.tahoeskiworld.com. Auto writer Jeffrey Weidel can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jeffweidel.