If the VW Golf is the king of the hot hatchback segment, then the Golf SportWagen is the king of the compact wagon segment.
I will admit that I am in a small group of American automotive consumers when I say: “I love wagons and avants, be it touring, estate, or whatever.”
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen (previously the Jetta SportWagen) is a unicorn in a sea full of crossovers and sport utility vehicles here in the United States.
However, over the years the Golf/Jetta SportWagen has established a strong, cult-like following among the die-hard VW wagon enthusiasts in the U.S. and the new MQB based MK 7 Golf SportWagen, is destined to solidify the legacy established by its predecessors.
What’s New for 2015?
The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is an all-new model for 2015. Over the past decade, the Golf wagon was associated with the Jetta sedan in the U.S., but was always known as “Golf SportWagen” worldwide. However, with the launch of the seventh generation Volkswagen Golf hatchback in the U.S., company officials finally decided to rename it from Jetta SportWagen to Golf SportWagen.
This streamlined the Golf lineup to avoid confusion among automobile consumers.
Like the Golf hatchback, the long-roofed Golf SportWagen is based on Volkswagen’s new, aluminum intensive modular chassis known as “MQB.” Compared to the sixth generation Jetta SportWagen, the Golf wagon is much lighter, but stronger than its predecessor.
The exterior design and the interior layout is very similar to the Golf hatchback and includes a host of new technological and safety features.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to drive a fully-loaded 2015 VW Golf SportWagen (SEL trim) with the 2.0 L turbocharged diesel engine and six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
My tester was fitted with silver roof rails, panoramic sunroof, 18-in “Durban” alloy wheels, rear view camera, touchscreen navigation system, Volkswagen Car-Net, 400 watt Fender premium audio system, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry with push button start, and V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces.
The 2015 VW Golf SportWagen does come with optional Lighting and Driver Assistance Packages.
The Lighting Package ($995) includes Bi-Xenon headlights with Adaptive Frontal Lighting System (AFS), LED daytime running lights, and interior ambient lights. The Driver Assistance Package ($695) includes park distance control system with front and rear proximity sensors, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning.
My Golf wagon tester was equipped with Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0 L turbocharged, 4-cylinder diesel engine, which produced 150 horsepower at 3500 RPM and 236 lb.ft. torque at 1750 RPM. The engine sent all of the power to the front wheels via a quick shifting, six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The EPA rates the 2015 Golf Sportwagen with diesel engine and six-speed dual-clutch transmission at 31 mpg city/42 mpg highway/35 mpg combined.
The Golf Sportwagen can hold 13.2 gallons of diesel and on a full tank has a cruising range of 409.2 miles in city and 554.40 bladder-busting miles on the highway.
Wagons have always offered the driving dynamics of a sedan with the cargo carrying capabilities of an SUV.
The Golf SportWagen is no exception to this philosophy.
On my test drive around town, the Golf SportWagen was very stable and felt planted to the road. Around the bends, there was minimal body roll and the steering response was spot on.
The steering system is an electro-mechanical rack-pinion unit and is well weighted from center to each lock, providing the driver a very confident feel.
Brakes on the Golf SportWagen are 11.3 inch vented discs up front and 10.0 inch solid discs at the back with ABS. The brake pedal felt very firm and even after a few rounds of heavy braking at stoplights, there was minimal brake fade.
The suspension of the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is MacPherson struts up front and torsion beam units at the back. Compared to the sixth generation Jetta wagon, I felt like this was a step backwards because the previous wagon had multi-link independent rear suspension.
However, I believe that this was done to make room for the urea diesel exhaust treatment tank without eating into the car’s cargo space.
All 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen models in SEL trims are connected to the pavement via all-season P225/40R18 tires, which provide sufficient grip during all weather conditions.
The 2015 VW Golf SportWagen offers 66.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats and 30.4 cubic feet behind the second row seats. With this much cargo space, I am always wondering why more American automobile consumers are not considering a wagon for their next purchase?
The 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is a well packaged automobile and offers everything demanded by a young family or driving enthusiast. And the wagon becomes even more practical when you add the diesel engine into the equation.
The dual-clutch transmission in my tester was very quick and responsive to my throttle inputs, but if you want complete control over your driving experience, then the Golf SportWagen can be equipped with six-speed manual transmission, which reduces the entry price by $1,100.
Overall, my experience behind the wheel was very rewarding and I would highly recommend this wagon to everyone who is looking for a fun and practical family hauler in a sea of crossovers and sport utility vehicles.