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1 of 2 - 3 day rental across the pond - VW Golf with automatic transmission - economy car


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I never gave much thought to VW products until, when renting a full size at a local Budget years ago, I was given a Passat.  I liked it more than I thought I would.  I liked the user-friendliness of the dash and the controls.  And I liked the flatness with which it cornered and rode.  This "flatness" was more noticeable than in similarly sized Camrys and Altimas often found in the same tier of rental cars.

The second and only other VW product I have driven was a VW Golf with an automatic.  This was across the pond and the rental lasted 3 days.

I immediately liked and disliked a few things about the Golf.  I liked the dashboard and console set up, as well as the general comfort of the seating.  The build quality of the interior was good, essentially comparable to that experienced in the Passat years before, albeit in a package that was smaller and with less content.  I immediately disliked the thick rear quarter panel which gave the car a chunky or boxy look.  The front angled view of this car is more favorable than the angled rear view.

The layout of the dashboard and controls was intuitive, and well suited to someone used to American cars, such that getting underway was quick and easy.  The 4 cylinder, presumably the 1.5 L, made more than 100 horses and was adequate for this size of car.  The transmission was a DSG, which I've come to learn means "direct shift gearbox."  DSG is what they've been calling most automatic gearboxes in Europe within the last handful of years.  The weird thing about the Golf's DSG was its odd number of gears - 7 of them.  As cars pick up more automatic gears, it's harder to identify the shift points.  I sometimes could tell if I gave it more throttle and was keeping an eye on the tachometer.  Incidentally, the gauges are nicely arranged, as is everything else for both the driver and front seat passenger.

The Golf's ride was flat and composed and it was more compliant in highway driving than it was on hilly roads with tight hairpins.  There were certainly a lot of these.  Perhaps an up-level model with a more taut suspension could have handled them better.  This car fared better on city streets and on the highways.  Again comparing it to a larger VW sedan, its handling and ride would be like that of a smaller and less noise-dampened Passat.  It would be more like a Corolla's manners in ride, handling, and noise suppression compare to those of the bigger and heavier Camry.  However, for most things, it inspires a fair amount of confidence.   And that includes passing that isn't overly demanding.  Parking was also fairly easy and, even though the rear quarter panel looks like it might be challenging to see out of, it turned out to be doable, possibly because the back lite is fairly vertical.

The fuel economy was very good, though not exactly great, when one thinks what kind of mileage heavier, older Chevrolets with 3.1 L and 3.4 L V6s could return under near perfect open road driving conditions.   Handling was predictable and noise suppression was above average, possibly in the upper end of the economy car segment.  The feel of occupying the front part of the cabin was probably this car's forte.  Rear seat passengers also had adequate room while the trunk behind the hatch type door was somewhat limited.  

In three days of driving this VW Golf 5 door hatchback (at a very reasonable cost), I had one event that was perplexing and I thought I'd be in a bind.  I pulled over to look at a panoramic vista and parked it on a slight downslope.  When I got back in the car and tried to put it in reverse, it was giving me an unusual message in another language that the reverse needed to be applied manually. I could figure this out in context but I couldn't figure out how to do that with what was supposed to be an automatic!  I was wondering if I'd have to summon some locals to help me decode the problem or possibly help me push the car back before moving it into a forward gear.  I took a deep breath, pulled out the parking brake again, and tried again several minutes later.  I was finally able to use the automatic reverse setting and be on my way.  I made sure never to park on a slope and try to start it and then put it in reverse in the remaining day I had left with this car.  The only thing I could think of is that there was something conflicting with a possible "hill hold" feature I didn't know about.

Overall, the Golf is a compendium of good and average traits, which makes it above average.  Currently, VW has released the New Polo, and it's about the same size but more streamlined, with an extra window in the rear door which effectively slims down the rear pillar and makes it look more attractive.  From driving the Golf and seeing the photos of the New Polo, their best feature seems to be their nicely put together cabins that are comfortable to occupy for extended periods of time and put them quite a ways above some econoboxes being marketed across the pond.  For some, or many, the VW Golf could be the answer to their automotive needs in this market niche.

 

Edited by trinacriabob
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Posted (edited)

Photo gallery of VW Golf

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Front 3/4 view - looks better from this vantage point; nice alloy wheels

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Rear 3/4 view - not as nice with that thick rear sail panel

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Comfortable with its leg room, nice instrument panel and dials, substantial leather wrapped steering wheel with convenient controls, and appealing center stack/vents/console

 

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Generously sized infotainment screen with back-up camera and nicely finished automatic (DSG) shifter;  sturdy looking fabric seats

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Area for the passenger, larger glove box, and inset fixed window by rear view mirrors (don't know the term for that feature) like you'd see on a Buick Verano and a few other American cars

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How does a person put it into R in "manual" mode after being asked to do so in the message center?

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It's a DSG! You can concentrate on driving and not worry about shifting gears where you're not a local. The air conditioning was on.

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For those on C&G who enjoy language lessons:  by deduction, I think "apagado" means turned off.

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Marginal photo showing nicely shaped and finished fabric seats, generous rear seat room, and a thick rear pillar to contend with.

- - - - -

End of photos

Edited by trinacriabob
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The VW Golf is the go-to car in the segment.  It has no equal.  Great car, with a "permanence" that makes it timeless in design and function.  Oh, and that pillar, that "cause" for consternation?  That is an iconic design feature handed down from the very beginning... VW will not get rid of it.

77ad7764-vw-golf-mk1-5-door-0.jpg

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Opinions are like a-holes and everyone has one.  I happen to dislike intrusive C-pillars.  I like to be able to see out of a car or other vehicle, especially when I'm in a place where I'm not familiar with the turf.  Or even in a big city where you have less time and space to make quick maneuvers.

This should have been under an old car spotting thread.  However, here's the new VW Golf seen during these same 3 days.  Roughly the same size car.  Easier on the eyes.  More glass.  Even looks good in that metallic rust color.

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VW (new) Polo

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VW (new) Polo

Or, if you want to talk larger VW products, the Passat has clean, classic, minimalist lines that have stood the test of time.

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@frogger I believe you're right that, in terms of price point, the Golf sits above the Polo in the VW line-up.  Looks wise, this new model has cleaner and more rounded lines at its edges.  It looks nicer than the one I had.  Those alloy wheels are interesting.

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Yeah, the Polo has been the model below the Golf for 45 years, just not in the US.    Think Sonic and Cruze.   At one time, the US did get a smaller model--the Fox, but that was a rebadge of the Brazilian Gol. 

The VW lineup order is fairly clear for the US and various European countries, but gets very confusing if one looks at the lines in Mexico, Brazil, China or others...in China there are maybe 1/2 dozen different Golf-sized models each w/ different names and styling.

Edited by Robert Hall
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VW could definitely use a CUV under the Tiguan in North America. Not sure what is taking them  so long, they could have just made a soft roader version of the Golf like Subaru did pretty well with the Impreza/Crosstrek.

 

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3 minutes ago, frogger said:

VW could definitely use a CUV under the Tiguan in North America. Not sure what is taking them  so long, they could have just made a soft roader version of the Golf like Subaru did pretty well with the Impreza/Crosstrek.

 

They have the T-Cross, T-Roc and SWB Tiguan in Europe.  I read a while back they were looking at selling the T-Roc in the US but couldn't get the price low enough for the US market. 

Edited by Robert Hall
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That old VW (Rabbit? maybe?  or was it the first time VW renamed it the Golf?)  made me remember a good friend's dad's 1986 4 door diesel Golf and its cheap ass interior.  Which was something like this.

1986 Volkswagen Golf Diesel – German Cars For Sale Blog

But people just loved to whine against Cavaliers of the time...   Which was no better, but definitely not worse...

Thanx @trinacriabob  and @ocnblu  for dredging up past memories of my dumb assed, German car loving, idiot Greek friends of mine. 

It is our Easter tomorrow which I might as well just call them up and wish them well... 

 

 

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1 hour ago, oldshurst442 said:

Thanx @trinacriabob  and @ocnblu  for dredging up past memories of my dumb assed, German car loving, idiot Greek friends of mine. 

It is our Easter tomorrow which I might as well just call them up and wish them well...  

Happy (Greek) Easter!  Most years it's a week or two off, with it only overlapping the RC Easter on occasional years.

How do you say Happy Easter in Greek using the Latin alphabet phonetically?

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Kalo Pas-ha   Kaló Pás-ha    

I looked at all the spellings that English speaking Greeks all over the world do when they use the Latin alphabet to spell Greek words but none of them actually make sense. Including google translate.  The second spelling with the accents on the o and a are from google and its meant to accentuate the syllable.  But google translate amongst other  sources have Easter spelled  Pascha. But an English person will never pronounce it the way it should.   Pas-ha.  Yes...like ha ha ha like laughing ha ha ha. .   Not cha cha cha the dance.   

There is another way that its spelled commonly spelled.  Paska. 

But the ending is not ka like how a Bostonian would pahk his cah at Hahvahd yahd...and if he had a 2020 Hyundai, he'd be using smaht pahk.

Thank-you for your wishes.

And yes...the Greek Orthodox Church still uses the Julian Calendar for some of our religious dates.  Well...mainly Easter.  And yes, every once in a while, our Easters fall on the same day while mopst of the time it ranges from a week to 5 weeks difference and always after.  

Sadly...like for so many others for so many other religious or other events for billions across our planet, social distancing measures will take precedence for my family and hence, no midnight church for the First Light and no feast right after tonight.  No roasting of the lamb tomorrow as a family and friends affair...   Its a new reality that has me in tears as I write this.  

I was just joking about the dredging up memories part.  It was not "dredging up". It was happily reminiscing.   Although some of those guys are still idiots, LOL, they were and still are great friends!  

I dont do Facebook, but I do the old fashioned telephone call.  We email each other from time to time though...  They stop and visit the restaurant too.  XMAS and Easter we always communicate one way or other!!!  

 

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I think it was called Rabbit in NA only, Golf everywhere else from the git-go.  I had a girlfriend with an early Rabbit diesel, that thing ran like a top with 300k+ miles on it.  She had horses and she used it like a truck, always had the back seat folded and hay chaff blew around in there all the time from hauling bales of it.

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2 hours ago, ocnblu said:

I think it was called Rabbit in NA only, Golf everywhere else from the git-go.  

Yeah, Rabbit was an NA thing...just like the Passat was called Dasher then Quantum in NA.  I remember also inexplicably in the US they went from Golf back to Rabbit (then back to Golf) for a few years about a decade ago. 

Edited by Robert Hall
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I think the Rabbit name reappeared for one model year.  More recently, there was a Rabbit GTI special edition in the last year or so.

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@frogger That front fascia / front end of that newest Golf you posted further up is nice.  Even that color isn't too bad on that particular car.

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On 4/18/2020 at 9:47 PM, oldshurst442 said:

That old VW (Rabbit? maybe?  or was it the first time VW renamed it the Golf?)  made me remember a good friend's dad's 1986 4 door diesel Golf and its cheap ass interior.  Which was something like this.

1986 Volkswagen Golf Diesel – German Cars For Sale Blog

But people just loved to whine against Cavaliers of the time...   Which was no better, but definitely not worse...

 

 

Heh heh....my '84 Escort diesel interior looked like this, same color.

unnamed-6.jpg

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10 hours ago, Robert Hall said:

Heh heh....my '84 Escort diesel interior looked like this, same color.

unnamed-6.jpg

For the most part, I DO NOT miss most 80's auto's. Such a sad part of auto history.

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The Escort's interior is pretty snazzy as compared to the Golf's.  Its decent.  

Was it manual?   My friend's diesel Golf was manual.  He and my then girlfriend taught me to drive stick. She had a 1989 Pontiac Firefly Turbo.   The Firefly was quite the peppy ride.  The diesel Golf was quite a sluggish ride, to put it lightly.   When an Iron Duke Celebrity has more oomph, you know the car is a dog...

The Escort had some sporty lines back in the day.  It was an attractive car.  I liked it back then. 

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, oldshurst442 said:

The Escort's interior is pretty snazzy as compared to the Golf's.  Its decent.  

Was it manual?   My friend's diesel Golf was manual.  He and my then girlfriend taught me to drive stick. She had a 1989 Pontiac Firefly Turbo.   The Firefly was quite the peppy ride.  The diesel Golf was quite a sluggish ride, to put it lightly.   When an Iron Duke Celebrity has more oomph, you know the car is a dog...

The Escort had some sporty lines back in the day.  It was an attractive car.  I liked it back then. 

 

It was a 5dr w/ a 5spd manual. AM radio, A/C, vinyl seats (that photo was of one w/ cloth).  Very basic.  52hp.  But at 55mph it was consistently getting over 50 mpg.  My Dad bought it to use as a dinghy, to tow on the back of the family RV, a 33ft Winnebago Chieftain...I ended up driving it a lot in high school and college.  For a tiny diesel hatchback it had great steering feel IIRC...

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80's interiors were not good in general .. The most you could hope for was relatively squeak and rattle free.  In the 90's the Japanese cars achieved this and their market share took off.  We had a Scirocco and CRX in the familly for a few years each in the mid 80's to go along with our Olds.

1985-VW-Scirocco-Interior.jpg

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9 hours ago, dfelt said:

For the most part, I DO NOT miss most 80's auto's. Such a sad part of auto history.

I think that a lot of it had to do with a huge divergence between foreign (they were going more spartan) and American (they kept plumping up the velour seats), a recession at the beginning of the decade,  a few engines that didn't know how to shut off 2 or 4 cylinders (but were supposed to seamlessly do that), rapidly making even more diesel variants, and the introduction of computerized emission controls at the very same time (released in 1979 on some GM products, officially becoming CCC on their 1981 products) with teething issues.

Some of the land yachts made for good eye candy, but unless they had a tried and true engine under the hood (Olds 5.0 L 307 V8 and the like), they were not worth owning.

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