2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline Road Test

All the excitement in Volkswagen’s Golf SportWagen family has recently been focused on the new AllTrack, a model I personally
2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline
VW’s Golf SportWagen is a more efficient, sportier alternative to a compact SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
applied plenty of praise to earlier this year, but last year’s redesign of the AllTrack’s more traditional five-door sibling deserves some well earned attention too.

After a comprehensive ground-up makeover for 2016 the Golf SportWagen moved into 2017 mostly unchanged, except for some minor package updates, which is fine by me as it was near ideal already. It’s lighter now thanks to VW’s new MQB platform architecture that also underpins a wide range of models from subcompacts like the Polo, unfortunately not available here, to larger SUVs including the new mid-size Atlas, while its interior gets all of the premium upgrades enjoyed by other new Golf models.

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline
The SportWagen is stylish front to back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
This said the Golf SportWagen has always been a near-premium product, but it’s hard not to appreciate the redesigned model’s more sophisticated instrument panel, the impressive leatherwork and finely detailed switchgear on the new steering wheel, the state-of-the-art infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink, proximity-sensing digital-buttons, and the many more improvements all around.

Full disclosure, the Golf SportWagen will get a mid-cycle update for 2018, which sees a noticeable smoothing out of the grille and front fascia, new headlamp clusters, new LED daytime running lights, new LED taillights, a new rear bumper, and new wheels, while even the base Trendline model will receive rain-sensing wipers, leather wrappings for the steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle
2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline
Even the base SportWagen gets standard alloy wheels. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
as per my tester, and a the same 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen with proximity-sensing controls found in my test car instead of the 5.8-inch display found in base 2017 models, the latter two upgrades part of the $700 Connectivity Package Plus that also includes an eight-speaker audio upgrade and satellite radio (alternatively you can get a $500 Connectivity Package without the leather bits).

Base Trendline features pulled up from 2017 to 2018 will include heatable power-adjustable side mirrors with LED turn signals, heated front seats, a rearview camera, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Mirrorlink smartphone connectivity, Bluetooth audio streaming, voice activation, USB input, roof rails, tire pressure monitoring, all the usual active and passive safety features, and much more.

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline
All SportWagens feature upscale near premium interiors. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The Golf SportWagen’s overall roominess will continue forward too, this being a key selling point over other small wagons and many compact SUVs. Not only is the passenger compartment spacious front to back, with excellent head, shoulder, hip, leg and foot room, plus inherently comfortable and supportive seats, but it’s an equipment hauler’s dream thanks to 863 litres (30.5 cubic feet) of cargo capacity behind the rear seats and 1,883 litres (66.5 cubic feet) when folded flat. What’s more, the 60/40-split seatbacks include a centre pass-through so that two rear passengers can sit comfortably while long items, such as skis, are stowed down the middle.

Another good reason the SportWagen, and all Golfs for that matter, has legions of diehard fans is performance. It’s not a rocket off the line like the GTI or Golf R, but its 1.8-litre turbo-four should still be quick enough for most in the compact class
2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline
The leather steering wheel and 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen is optional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
thanks to 170 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque, the latter from just 1,600 rpm. It moves the little wagon from standstill to 100km/h in 8.5 seconds when fitted with the six-speed automatic, but take note the base model is even quicker.

At $23,145 the Golf SportWagen comes standard with a five-speed manual that really helps the car live up to its sporty name, but even if a desire for convenience lures you into the $1,400 automatic you’ll enjoy its Sport mode that quickens shift intervals and allows the engine to rev higher before swapping cogs, or alternatively you can shift manually via the shift lever. Additionally, if you upgrade to 4Motion AWD, which starts at $26,045, the automatic transforms into a six-speed DSG sequential manual.

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline
These fabric covered seats are extremely comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The leather-wrapped steering wheel noted earlier isn’t just about looks, its flat-bottomed rim providing good feedback and response to input much above average in the compact class, although this is hardly unusual for the Golf or Volkswagen on the whole. Move up through the SportWagen range and the 16-inch alloys grow to 17s or 18s, which aids handling, but really there’s nothing wrong with the way this base model moves through fast paced corners or cruises down the freeway, while it’s plenty good at winding through congested inner city traffic too.

Driven conservatively the Golf SportWagen is efficient as well, the manual five-cycle rated at 9.6 L/100km in the city, 6.8 on the highway and 8.3 combined, and as-tested auto even better at 9.3 city, 6.9 highway and 8.2 combined. I suppose I should mention the 4Motion AWD’s estimated mileage as well, which is 10.6 L/100km city, 8.0 highway and 9.4 combined whether in regular wagon form or taller AllTrack.

That Golf AllTrack is a good alternative to the SportWagen, even if only for its rugged good looks that include tastefully applied SUV-style body cladding and aluminum-look design elements to
2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline
The rear seats are roomy and supportive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
go along with its 15-mm (0.6-inch) increase in ride height, larger 18-inch alloys, 15 lb-ft of extra torque, and loads of standard features.

Of course, you can upgrade a regular Golf SportWagen with more too, the $2,700 pricier Comfortline adding everything from the Trendline’s Connectivity Package Plus as well as 17-inch alloys, fog lights with static cornering lights, proximity-sensing access, pushbutton ignition, dual-zone auto HVAC, and leatherette upholstery, while the $10,650 dearer Highline adds the automatic transmission as standard, plus 18-inch alloys, ambient interior lighting, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, chrome exterior detailing, sport seats, a 12-way powered driver’s seat, leather upholstery, navigation, a powered panoramic sunroof, blindspot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, and more.

2017 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Trendline
More cargo space than most compact SUVs, the SportWagen also gets a handy centre pass-through. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
are additional options packages with both upper trims, the Highline model available with adaptive HID headlights, auto high beams, LED signature daytime running lights, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning with lane change assist, semi-autonomous parking assist, and Fender audio. So equipped the Golf SportWagen can venture into compact premium territory, but to be fair it’ll have more features and be at least as nicely finished despite its more humble VW badge.

Near premium German engineering combined with high quality finishings has long been part of Volkswagen’s value proposition, and as far as North American offerings go the Golf line does this best. The only significant way they could make the Golf SportWagen better would be a GTI upgrade, but don’t hold your breath. Right now you can search out a good deal on a 2017 Golf SportWagen or pay a little more and enjoy all the 2018 improvements. Either way it’s a good choice.
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