|VW’s Golf SportWagen is a more efficient, sportier alternative to a compact SUV. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
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.
|The SportWagen is stylish front to back. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
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
|Even the base SportWagen gets standard alloy wheels. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
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.
|All SportWagens feature upscale near premium interiors. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
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
|The leather steering wheel and 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen is optional. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
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.
|These fabric covered seats are extremely comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
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
|The rear seats are roomy and supportive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
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.
|More cargo space than most compact SUVs, the SportWagen also gets a handy centre pass-through. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
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.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)