Article and photos by Brendan McAleer. Additional photos by Haney Louka.
A young family with lots of stuff. A long interstate with little to see. A need to cover ground without burning a hole in your pocket. Perfect turbodiesel work – or so you’d think.
This is the updated Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon, a lengthened version of the happy little MQB-platform Golf. From the rear seat forward, it’s exactly the same as VW’s best-selling (in Europe, anyway) compact car, and provides solid handling and a range of interesting engines.
From the seatback’s back, it’s a wagon, and that means more room for stuff. With two kids under three and a week away in Portland planned, our family would be testing that capacity to something approaching its limit.
However, the Sportwagon was more than equal to the task in this regard. Because of the requirements of pickup point and timing, we actually ended up unloading a Tiguan into the little silver wagon, with some surprising results. While bigger and heftier feeling than any Golf, the Tiguan’s carrying capacity just quailed in the presence of the wagon’s cavernous trunk. While the rear seats of the Golf variant weren’t huge, and though they accommodated a brace of car seats with ease, the rear space was nearly a third more than VW’s crossover, increasing even more with the flip and fold cover for the spare tire well.
VW states the Sportwagon’s capacity at 860 L, but as we shall soon see, VW says a lot of things. Still, absorbing a Bob stroller, bassinet, clothes and diapers and a couple of empty growlers – we are on the way to Portland – was no issue for the Sportwagon. While rear seat space was again more kid-oriented than adult-friendly, as a car for a younger family, things seemed perfect.
Cooking with gas(oline): Test Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon
It was a wet start, with a border to cross and several cities’ worth of rush hour to face. The Vee-Dub’s 2.0L turbodiesel whistled up to speed without complaint, and then settled into a contented grumble, no more intrusive in the cabin than a gasoline engine would be. On the highway, the six-speed DSG slotted quickly into highest gear, happy to mine the TDI’s 236 lb-ft of torque. If a pass was required to get past a wandering semi-trailer, the 150-hp rating didn’t tell the story so much as the turbodiesel’s excellent low-end response.
Taken all together, the powertrain and capacity made for the ideal road trip car, in theory. The seats were thickly bolstered, yet comfortable. The panoramic moonroof lit up the somewhat dour cabin on a grey and overcast day. Ride quality from the 16-inch alloys was perfectly acceptable, and road noise was very controlled. Everything seemed fine.