The Volkswagen Golf has long been a favourite among frugal buyers with Euro-car tastes. In its five-door format, this German-engineered compact provides those enthusiasts with the driving dynamics they covet and the versatility they need.
Something big from something small
Volkswagen has done a commendable job of creating as much interior volume in the Golf that two additional doors could provide without transforming the car into a milquetoast wagon for the family sect.
Redesigned last year, not much changed for 2012 but then again, not much needed to change. The Golf 5-door is a benchmark distillation of practicality, versatility and spirited fun - even if its 2.5L 5-cylinder powerplant is less than exhilarating.
The vehicle is capable of seating five adults, although four is more realistic unless squeezing three onto the 60/40 split-folding rear seat is necessary. The 2012 Volkswagen Golf 5-door offers plenty of headroom all around and generous stretches of legroom up front. As one might expect, rear legroom is adequate but not great.
Along with its ability to transport the human form, the 2012 Golf 5-door is capable of ingesting numerous other forms as well, especially when its rear seat is folded flat. The relatively square shape of the cargo bay enables it to ingest notably large items with ease.
My road bike fit nicely into the back of my tester without the need to remove wheels, as I often have to do when using compact vehicles to transport my fave two-wheeler.
Along with practicality, the Golf's cabin is noteworthy for its quality in both materials and assembly. Not so long ago, such surroundings were more the domain of upscale Euro rides, such as Audi. While my tester wasn't lined with leather, its seats were highly supportive, as VW seats always are.
Another characteristic of VW cabins, epitomized in the Golf, is straightforward logic-based designs. Three dials comprise the climate control setup, which makes life simple on the road. And it's there where the delight of the Golf shines through.
Behind the wheel
The Golf has always been an inspiring car to drive, and the 5-door version maintains that spirit. Volkswagen has managed to find a sweet spot between ride quality and handling prowess that emphasizes both dynamics without favouring one over the other.
The Golf is highly nimble around town and has underpinnings that add delight to open roads where curves are sought by driving enthusiasts like sockeye by salmon fisherman. This is the same great chassis that earns the much worshipped Golf GTI its reverence, albeit tamerw.
The quick-witted Golf 2.5L is only dulled by its somewhat lazy 5-cylinder gas engine. The normally aspirated mill produces 170 hp @ 5,700 rpm and 177 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm.
Power flows to the Golf's front wheels through a 6-speed manual gearbox or an optional 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. My tester was equipped with the autobox.
The engine/transmission combo left me feeling fine but not inspired. It seemed my tester would lazily depart from a standstill then over-compensate by delivering more acceleration than intended as the tachometer went past 3,000 rpm.
Although I adapted to this peculiarity, a more linear throttle response would help produce a more predictable feel to pulling away from a stop sign or traffic light. Still, the engine wasn't without its attributes, which included adequate operational refinement and suitable grunt.
Not a fuel miser
Fuel economy for the 2.5L powerplant is rated at 9.9L/100km and 6.2L/100km, city and highway driving respectively. My around-town duties saw me averaging something closer to 11L/100km; such is OK frugality but nothing to laud.
In my view, the powerplant of choice in the Golf is the optional 2.0L TDI diesel engine. It delivers outstanding performance and is rated at 6.7L/100km and 4.6L/100km city and highway driving respectively, plus it's fastened to VW's race-inspired DSG automated gearbox.
For those serious about economy, this engine/transmission pairing is a standout.
Golf's 19th hole
While I wasn't enthusiastic about my tester's powerplant, it's a capable mill that will undoubtedly serve the masses with subdued but sound performance.
Despite my 5-cylinder apathy, I really enjoyed driving the 2012 VW Golf 5-door and would recommend it to buyers seeking a Euro-inspired, moderately priced compact. The base Golf 5-door, termed "Trendline," is stickered at $21,475.
My Sportline version held an MSRP of $26,650 with the automatic transmission. It was also equipped with VW's $775 Connectivity Package, which includes mobile phone Bluetooth and media interface with iPod connectivity, along with steering wheel-mounted controls and a multi-function trip computer.
This 2012 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L Sportline 5-Door review was originally published on Auto-Venus.com.