First Drive: 2014 Volkswagen Golf volkswagen first drives
2014 Volkswagen Golf. Click image to enlarge

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Volkswagen Canada

Review and photos by Michael Bettencourt

Photo Gallery:
2014 Volkswagen Golf

Olbia, Italy – The introduction of the latest generation Volkswagen Jetta in 2010 threw the entire lower end of Volkswagen’s lineup in Canada for a loop. Whereas before the German-built compact Golf hatchback was the entry level offering of Volkswagen’s lineup, the cheaper-to-build Mexican-built Jetta gave up some of its premium interior quality and refinement for a $15K starting price. And sales took off, throughout North America.

All of a sudden, even hatchback-appreciating Canadians began flocking to the Jetta sedan, making it VW’s sales leader, the Golf now trundling on as an upscale compact car that starts at around $21K. Doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but it is to buyers, especially with some Golfs running up to and over 30 large after options – and that’s not counting GTIs or limited edition AWD Golf R models. While the Jetta is now solidly among the 10 bestselling cars in Canada, the Golf remains a more premium alternative to mainstream compact hatchbacks here, best known for its frugal TDI and sporty GTI versions, even though the Golf is the third-best selling car in the world behind the Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus.

For 2013, VW has brought down the price of the latest seventh generation Golf slightly, but made it even more refined and sophisticated – at least, that’s the case in Europe, the Golf’s largest market, where a serious economic recession is gripping most countries. There are rumblings that the Golf VII destined for North America early in 2014 may also be built at the same Puebla plant where the Jetta is made. If so, will this also mean a similar value and content shake up, and repositioning the Golf close to or even under the Jetta in base price once again? We’ll know better in early 2014.

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