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Manufacturer’s Website
Volkswagen Canada

Review and photos by Michel Deslauriers

Photo Gallery:
2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI Highline

The Golf has been around for decades and is currently the best representation of what Volkswagen symbolises as the people’s car. Available in three-door, five-door and wagon body styles, there’s a Golf to suit just about anyone’s tastes and needs.

One advantage the 2013 Volkswagen Golf has over its compact-car rivals in Canada, at least for the time being, is the availability of a diesel engine. That will soon change, as the Chevrolet Cruze will eventually be offered with a diesel powertrain as well.

2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI Highline
2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI Highline. Click image to enlarge

Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre TDI four-cylinder produces 140 horsepower; that may seem like a modest output, but turbodiesel fans know that these engines are all about low-rpm torque. The TDI’s 236 lb-ft peak from 1,750 to 2,500 rpm.

That abundance of torque makes the Golf TDI a quick car when accelerating from a standstill. The optional DSG six-speed dual-clutch automated transmission rows through its gears at rapid pace, which also helps performance. You’ll experience a jerky upshift or downshift once in a while, compared to a conventional automatic, but it’s nothing to get upset about.

During the test week, outside temperature dropped to -35 Celsius with the wind chill factor, and firing up the engine in the morning felt like someone poured marbles in the oil pan. However, after about 15 seconds the TDI would quiet down; in fact, at normal driving speeds, the engine is actually quite smooth and clatter-free.

At a steady 100 km/h, the engine spins at 1,500 rpm; then again, the TDI redlines at 5,000 rpm, so revs are always kept low. I averaged 7.2 L/100 km with a 50/50 mix of city and highway driving. With the DSG gearbox, the Golf TDI is rated at a low 6.7/4.7 L/100 km.

The 2013 Volkswagen Golf is not averse to spirited driving. It’s blessed with a playful character thanks to a taut chassis, precise and well-weighted steering as well as a suspension that’s well suited for mastering twisty country roads. It might not possess the willingness of a GTI, but it’s clearly one of the most fun compacts to drive.

2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI Highline2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI Highline2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI Highline
2013 Volkswagen Golf TDI Highline. Click image to enlarge

The top-rung Highline trim gets 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps and a sport-tuned suspension. Visually, though, there isn’t much to distinguish the Highline from lesser trim levels, the base Trendline (not offered with the TDI engine) and mid-grade Comfortline. Not that it really matters.

Inside is where you’ll notice more distinction, at least in regards to comfort and convenience features. Every Golf comes well equipped with A/C, cruise control, keyless entry and power windows; the Highline adds leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a power sunroof and Bluetooth connectivity.

The seats are great, with plenty of side bolstering to keep you snugly in place, and a good driving position is easy to find. I do wish the handle to slide the seat fore and aft was closer to the door than the centre console, which is a hassle when people of different sizes alternate in the driver’s seat.

Outward visibility is very good all around, and occupants benefit from plenty of headroom and legroom front and back. As far as compact hatchbacks go, the 2013 Volkswagen Golf is accommodating. Cargo space is equally generous, 413 L of room with the 60/40 split-folding seatbacks up and up to 1,310 litres when they’re folded down. If you need even more space, get the Golf Wagon with its 1,890-L cargo hold.

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