This is how the Volkswagen Golf has consistently stayed as Europe’s no. 1 car for years
The Volkswagen Golf has been Europe’s favorite car for the last eight years. Going further back, it has been shown that ever since the car debuted in 1974, the Golf has steadily endeared itself to the European car-buying public. They were taken by its style, performance, and reliability, making it a true car for the masses in the way VW had envisioned the Beetle to be.
You can probably sense we only Googled that.
Truth is, we don’t know jack shit about the Golf. We’ve only ever had a real appreciation of the car when it was launched just last April; the Volkswagen Philippines Group, owned by the Ayalas, only set up shop in 2013.
So it would hardly be our fault if we don’t take to the Golf in Asia as wildly as the Europeans have (Or for the other VW vehicles currently on sale here, since we don’t see many of them on these roads yet.) We are still sold on the Japanese makes, although owning that first European car—one that says you’re now into finer things, having moved up in the world—is always an aspiration. It’s a milestone that VW Philippines is keen to fulfill.
Perhaps working, too, against the Golf is that we aren’t as enamored with a hatchback as an all-rounder; sedans are generally the preferred choice. Obviously, the Europeans don’t think so. It’s also from them that we get the idea of a very desirable “hot hatch,” which is what the faster GTI version of the Golf is.
So to understand Europe’s love affair with the Golf, we asked an Englishman to enlighten us. He says:
“There’s a good phrase that they use: Whatever new car you’re looking for, the answer is almost always a VW Golf. It’s like the ultimate all-rounder: fun to drive, reliable, practical, good-looking (rather than great-looking). Plus, the Golf GTI and Golf R are iconic hot hatches that are about as fast as you ever need in the real world. The competition keeps trying to make a better car (Honda Civic, Renault Clio, Seat Ibiza, Audi A3 etc) but they have still never quite managed it.” Does Mooney own a Golf?
“I had a Golf GTI years ago and I regretted selling it. Cool tartan seats.”
Tartan seats—if you can use the word “idiosyncratic,” you deserve seats like that.
Figuring Mooney’s opinion reflects Europe’s general view of the Golf, we assessed our driving experience of the car following his lead.
We had the 1.4 DSG Highline with the following specs: 4 cylinder in-line turbo fuel-injected gas engine; 150 horses and 250 Nm of torque; 0-100 km in 8.2 secs; 216 kph top speed.
First off, it did not have tartan seats. That is reserved for the GTI. Instead we had posh Vienna leather seats.
Was it fun to drive? Yes, it was. But more than that—and we think you’ll find this detail more important — the first thing you’ll notice is that the car gives you confidence. Not in yourself — because if you’re already choosing to drive a car like the Golf, you should already be sure of who you are-but about the car.
The Golf is solidly built that you immediately feel nothing will fall apart in the car even as you go well past the speed limit. Everything feels so together, no rattling of any sort, and the car just sets itself down the road with unrelenting focus. This is where VWs vaunted German engineering really comes to fore.
Now, about the Golf’s looks not quite reaching great-looking levels. We think our English resource person’s assessment stems from the car not being loudly styled. Honestly, when we look at the Golf, we don’t think automobiles. We think architecture.
We are reminded of Bauhaus, the International Style, form and function, minimalism. It’s as though the Golf was designed with as few as five lines on paper. And if you care to look at it from the side, please direct your attention to the rear profile, where the gas lid is. Stare at the angles, the symmetry of it. You can’t get any more German than that. The Golf doesn’t look like an insect, the way a Japanese car would. It looks like a car. It blends in while standing out.
Is it reliable and practical? Let’s see: 520+ kilometers on a full 50-liter gasoline tank? Yes. Generous space for four adults? Yes. Tastefully designed interiors? Yes. Responsive engine? Yes. Safe? With the kind of build it has, definitely yes.
So, can we agree with Europe that the Golf is the best all-rounder? Yes.
RIDES LIKE: It will never fall apart. Build quality is A+
FEELS LIKE: Confidence has always been your game
LOOKS LIKE: Architecture rather than automobile. Think Bauhaus