Drive

2015 Volkswagen Golf stands the test of time

Talk about longevity: the Volkswagen Golf is now 40 years old, and in that time, the company has made more than 30 million copies. And now, for 2015, there’s a new one.

You might not even notice if you’re not really familiar with it, because the styling changes are relatively minor. But it rides on a new platform, and it’s slightly longer and wider for more interior space.

A two-door hatchback version starts at $18,995, while the four-door begins at $19,995.

A station wagon is also available. A diesel engine is offered, but this reviewer drove the turbocharged gasoline 1.8-litre four-cylinder. And there’s one more choice in all three Golf trim lines: five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.

No car stays around that long if it doesn’t have the chops. The Golf feels solid but not heavy, and its steering is almost perfectly weighted, with enough heft to feel in control, but still light enough that you can spin it easily into a parking space. There is virtually no lag in its peppy turbo engine, and the automatic shifts smoothly and almost imperceptibly. This car is just a joy to drive.

Don’t prejudge if you initially find the seats too hard. They’re not cushy, but they’re extremely supportive, and unlike many softer seats, they’ll stay comfortable for hours.

The car Metro took for a drive had the top Highline trim, which includes leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, twin-pane panoramic sunroof, and an auto-dimming mirror, for $29,895. The vehicle also included an optional package of premium stereo, navigation, LED running lights, forward collision warning, and adaptive high-intensity headlamps for another $2,195.

An issue with the Golf is that while the interior is put together very well, its plain and plastic-heavy appearance can be at odds with the top trim’s price. It’s fine in the $20,000 model, but doesn’t look upscale enough at $32,000.

That aside, 30 million fans can’t be wrong. The Golf is practical, but it’s also a good performer. Even if you only buy a car as a commuter, there’s no reason why it can’t be fun to drive, as well.

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