Over 1.8 million units of the Golf Variant have been sold around the world since the model line first appeared 20 years ago, but none of them locally. According to Volkswagen Singapore, however, the times are changing, and demand for station wagons here has increased in recent years.
Essentially, this new wagon is a Golf Mk 7 with a 30cm-longer “estate” end. Depending on how much you fancy the styling of the hatchback, this can either be a good or bad thing. Based on the VW Group’s new modular-transversal MQB platform, the Variant has carried over most of its on-board components from the Golf, including its intuitive touchscreen infotainment system, helpful Park Assist, electronic parking brake, daytime running LEDs, and a host of safety features.
The familiar high-quality cabin, coupled with the Golf’s driveability and refinement, makes the driving experience virtually identical to the hatchback’s. Even with an extra 100kg to lug around, the 1.4-litre TSI turbocharged engine mated with VW’s excellent dual-clutch DSG gearbox is perfectly suited to the task, providing ample amounts of smooth, low-down torque with instant, seamless gearchanges – handy when this German wagon is filled with flat-packed furniture. On the go, the car is as sure-footed and predictable as the Golf hatch, with the Variant’s added weight and length barely noticeable from behind the wheel.
Of course, the main reason why you buy a vehicle like this one is its cargo-carrying ability. The boot space of 605 litres can be increased to 1620 litres with the backseats folded, and although this is 99 litres less than in the class-leading Hyundai i40 wagon, the Variant’s cargo area boasts thoughtful details that frequent users will appreciate.
These include levers (located near the boot “entrance”) that, when unlatched, fold the rear seats down, saving you a short walk to do it manually. Also convenient is the boot cover that can be retracted by simply pressing down on it. The idea is that if you open the boot and your hands are full with bulky items, you can employ your elbows to retract the cover.
As a general-purpose car then, the latest Golf Variant is pretty hard to fault, even if its styling does little to stir the emotions. Much like the model it’s based on, this estate is competent on the road, comprehensively equipped and perfectly practical for everyone.
We have to wait until early next year to find out if this newcomer can be a benchmark in Singapore’s compact-wagon segment, but if sales of the regular Golf are anything to go by, it would take a brave person to bet against it.
This article was first published in the October 2013 issue of Torque.
Volkswagen Golf Variant 1.4 (A)
ENGINE 1395cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 140bhp at 4500-6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 250Nm at 1500-3000rpm
GEARBOX 7-speed dual-clutch with manual select
0-100KM/H 8.9 seconds
TOP SPEED 213km/h
CONSUMPTION 20km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 116g/km