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First drive: Volkswagen 2015 Golf SportWagen

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2015 Golf SportWagen. Click to enlarge.

With the entry of the new 2015 Golf SportWagen, Volkswagen of America is bringing some dynamic and reasonably priced fuel-efficient verve to the non-luxury wagon segment in the US. The Golf SportWagen replaces the Jetta SportWagen with a slightly larger, definitely sportier and more dynamic vehicle that is a clear member of Volkswagen’s award-winning Golf family. Equipped with the new EA288 2.0L TDI diesel, the SportWagen can offer up to 43 mpg (5.47 l/100 km) on the highway—matching the fuel economy rating of the 2015 BMW 328d xDrive Sports Wagon, currently the highway fuel economy leader among the wagon segment, according to fueleconomy.gov.

VW of America is hosting a media drive in a rainy Austin, Texas this week to introduce the new model. (Earlier post.) Although currently only offered with FWD (an AWD version is slated for next year, according to Volkswagen), the Golf SportWagen stayed glued to the rain-slick roads in the hills around Austin even through climbing and dipping curves at speeds well exceeding posted limits. The lower profile and center of gravity compared to an SUV, combined with the powertrain, suspension and chassis, give the SportWagen a nimble and secure feel even in nasty weather.

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Fuel economy. Comparison of city and highway fuel economy ratings for select MY2015 station wagons, using data from the fueleconomy.gov website. Numeric data labels are in the order “city fuel economy, highway fuel economy”. Click to enlarge.

Featuring a choice of gasoline or diesel engines throughout the range of three trim levels (S, SE and SEL), the SportWagen gives consumers in the US the dynamic handling of a sporty car—not an SUV or crossover—with convenient large cargo capacity.

An integral member of the MQB-based 7th generation Golf family, the 2015 Golf SportWagen features the same shape and design elements as its new Golf siblings—the main exterior distinctions being its length (which brings a D-pillar), roof rails and same lines and unique rear design.

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At 179.6 inches long and 70.8 inches wide, the Golf SportWagen is 1.1 inches and 0.7 inches larger than the Jetta SportWagen, although overall vehicle height has been reduced by 1.1 inches. These changes help improve the aerodynamics and thus the fuel efficiency, while giving the car sporty proportions. Along with the new styling, these updated proportions help the SportWagen achieve a lower visual center of gravity and a more dynamic stance. With a load height of 24.8 inches and a wide aperture of 40.6 inches, the new Golf SportWagen is even more practical than its predecessor.

The SportWagen cabin is largely shared with the Golf models upon which it is based, but interior volume is increased because of the wagon bodystyle. The 94.3 ft3 interior volume of the Golf version is an increase over the 91.7 ft3 in the Jetta SportWagen.

As a result, key interior dimensions have been optimized. Rear-seat leg- and shoulder room are 35.6 and 53.9 inches, respectively. Front seat passengers also benefit from the SportWagen’s more spacious interior, with 41.2 inches of legroom and 55.9 inches across the shoulders. Although the new wagon’s overall height has been decreased by 1.1 inches, both front and rear headroom have been improved to 38.6 inches.

The SportWagen trunk is in line with those of compact SUVs. With the rear seats up, the SportWagen offers 30.4 ft3 of space; when the 60:40 split rear seat is fully folded, that figure rises to 66.5 ft3 of storage. The split folding rear seats are now accessed by convenient release levers in the cargo area.

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Seat placement, shifter height and the spacing between the pedals have all been fine-tuned as well. This new driver-centric design focus is evident from the center stack, which is now angled towards the driver—a feature seen in premium luxury or performance vehicles. White backlighting for the controls further highlights the upscale ambience, as well as the use of premium materials throughout, such as the leather-wrapped handbrake, shifter knob and steering wheel, the soft-touch plastics and piano-black trim.

Even the base model S trim comes well equipped with a long list of modern comfort, convenience and entertainment features, including power windows, locks and mirrors, a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth technology and VW Car-Net connected car features, and a Media Device Interface (MDI) with smartphone connectivity.

Impressions
Over the space of the morning, we drove both the TDI and TSI versions of the SportWagen. Equipped with these latest engines, the Golf SportWagen performs, well, like a Golf. Which is to say, extremely well.
The torquey diesel is a pleasure to drive, but the 1.8 TSI turbo also performs quite well, and at a lower entry price. Although we have a preference for the diesel engine version (and would love to see the GTD Variant, the higher performance European version of the SportWagen), the 1.8T provides a well-performing cost-effective entry.
Volkswagen continues to do an excellent job of reducing the diesel sound in a non-luxury vehicle. Using SPLnFFT on an iPhone 5s (earlier post), we found in a quick-and-dirty noise test that within the cabin (raining outside), with engine at idle, the ambient noise level for the TDI was about 48 dB; for the TSI, same conditions, the figure was 46 dB.

The SportWagen’s touchscreen infotainment center, standard on all models, is shared with the rest of the Golf family. The 5.8-inch touchscreen display utilizes a capacitive touch sensor rather than the more common resistive touchscreens that require pressure, enabling gesture controls like swiping and even pinch-zooming.

This infotainment module offers an available navigation system, as well as the expected audio functions (including standard SiriusXM Satellite radio) and car analytics and settings. This display also has a proximity sensor function, which senses when a hand is nearby and automatically switches its display to a more finger-friendly layout. The MDI is now housed in the center stack, while more traditional media such as CDs and SD cards can be inserted into slots in the large glovebox.

KESSY keyless entry with push-button start is standard equipment on all TDI trims and on TSI SE and SEL trim levels. The top-of-the-line SEL variants come loaded with the navigation system, Climatronic automatic dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights, and front comfort sport seats that include a 12-way power driver’s seat.

Model Line-Up

  • Golf SportWagen 1.8T S. The SportWagen 1.8T S has a starting MSRP of $21,395 and features the standard turbocharged and direct-injection 1.8-liter engine; 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; Bluetooth technology; a touchscreen radio; Sirius XM Satellite Radio trial; a Media Device Interface (MDI) with smartphone integration; V-tex leatherette seating surfaces; power windows; power door locks; and air conditioning. An automatic transmission is available as an $1,100 option.

  • Golf SportWagen 1.8T SE. Available only with the six-speed automatic transmission, the SE starts at $26,995 and adds the following features over the S: 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; front foglights; a panoramic sunroof; KESSY keyless access with push-button start; a rearview camera, and the Fender Premium Audio System. An optional Lighting package is available for $995 and includes Bi-Xenon headlights with the Adaptive Front-lighting System, LED DRLs, and ambient interior lighting with LED interior reading lights. The $695 Driver Assistance package includes the Forward Collision Warning System and front and rear Park Distance Control.

  • Golf SportWagen 1.8T SEL. Building on the specifications and layout of the TSI SE, the top gasoline-powered SportWagen trim starts at $29,345 and adds: 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; silver roof rails; a navigation system; Climatronic automatic air conditioning; sport comfort seats with a 12-way power driver’s seat; and ambient lighting with LED interior reading lights. The Lighting and Driver Assistance packages are available on the SEL as well.

  • Golf SportWagen TDI S. The line-up of Clean Diesel Golf SportWagen models largely mirrors its gasoline siblings in terms of features and packages. The base TDI S starts at $24,595 and offers a six-speed manual gearbox and 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels as standard, with a dual-clutch DSG automatic available for an extra $1,100. KESSY keyless access with push-button start and a rearview camera are among the standard features.

  • Golf SportWagen TDI SE. Starting at $27,995, the TDI SE has the same list of equipment and optional packages as its gasoline-powered counterpart, the 1.8T SE, including the Fender Premium Audio System, automatic headlamps and a panoramic sunroof. The Lighting and Driver Assistance package are available. The DSG transmission is an $1,100 option.

  • Golf SportWagen TDI SEL. Starting at $30,345, the TDI SEL’s standard equipment mirrors the 1.8T SEL, adding features such as a navigation system, Climatronic automatic air conditioning, and sport seats with 12-way power adjustment for the driver. Both Lighting and Driver Assistance options packages are available on this trim. The six-speed manual transmission is standard, with the option of the DSG automatic ($1,100 extra).

Comments

Mike999

If it's diesel it cancer spewing, and will save you ZERO money because Diesel prices are at a premium above Premium. Wow, mpg is great, but price is super high.
Where is the Real Hybrid Version Already.

philmcneal

man and i was hoping the AWD TDI would be available but next year i guess

Carl

To address the "cancer-spewing diesel" assertion (again)...


"HEI ACES study of lifetime animal exposure to New Technology Diesel Engine exhaust finds no lung cancer"

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2015/01/20150127-aces.html


This blog post is about a modern diesel vehicle (Golf SportWagen), i.e., new technology diesel, not some 1990s-era legacy diesel vehicle.

Peterww

Carl, your defence of these things might be more reasonable except for the following report.www.greencarcongress.com/2014/10/20141012-icct.html‎Cached
your "New Technology Diesel" appears to not be so wonderful after all. The apparent conflict between these two reports leaves me with the same impression as always, Being able to quote sources is no guarantee of their reliability, and here, the fact of your quote's having followed so soon after that selected by me, looks faintly suspicious.

Carl

Peter - the report you reference shows that NOx emissions from Euro 6 diesel cars are higher than the regulated limits. NOx is not a carcinogen. It also says in that report that hydrocarbon (THC) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions are far below the regulated limits.

Also, are you aware of a similar "real world" test of modern gasoline cars? If not, there's no basis for what gasoline cars emit under similar conditions.

One more point - the health assessment test I referenced was conducted with a 2007-compliant diesel truck engine. The 2010-compliant diesel truck engines have much lower emission than even the 2007-compliant engines (94% lower NOx, 72% lower CO, 100% lower (no measurable) NMHC, and 72% lower PM/particle number).


"CRC ACES Phase 2 report finds emissions from modern heavy-duty diesels well below required levels" - http://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/12/20131204-crc.html


If there are no health effects from the exhaust of the 2007-compliant engine exhaust, there are certainly no health effects from the 2010-compliant engine exhaust.

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