Structurally related to the four-door Jetta, Volkswagens front-wheel-drive Golf hatchback comes with two or four doors. The automaker also produces a performance-oriented companion called the GTI coupe. Both were last redesigned for the 1999 model year.
A new version of Volkswagens 1.9-liter TDI (turbo-diesel) engine makes 100 horsepower and is available for 2004 in the GL and GLS models. A Monsoon sound system is standard in the GLS, and a Telematics system is optional for all models.
The Golfs 2.0-liter gasoline engine is classified as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV). An Electronic Stability Program is optional for the GL and GLS.
Volkswagens warranty offers bumper-to-bumper coverage for four years/50,000 miles. Wear-and-tear items and adjustments are covered for one year/12,000 miles. Fully transferable powertrain coverage is for five years/60,000 miles, and roadside assistance is for four years/50,000 miles. Volkswagen sells far more Jetta sedans than Golf hatchbacks.
The Golf stands just below 57 inches tall, and its 98.9-inch wheelbase is identical to the Jettas. It measures 164.9 inches long overall, which is more than 7 inches shorter than the Jetta sedan. The styling features are essentially the same in both vehicles, but the Jetta has a longer rear end and a regular trunk. The GLS version comes with a power sunroof.
The Golfs upright hatchback styling allows the driver and passengers to sit more vertically than in most small cars. Space is adequate for four adults, even though the interior is intended for five. The area behind the split rear seat holds 18 cubic feet of cargo. Split rear seatbacks fold for additional storage space, which creates a total of 41.8 cubic feet of cargo space. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, power locks, a cassette player and a manual tilt/telescoping steering column.
Power windows and mirrors, cruise control and a premium CD stereo are standard on the GL model. A Cold Weather Package, which is optional for all models, includes heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles.
Under the Hood
A 115-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is standard in the GL and GLS. Fans of diesel engines may choose a 100-hp, turbocharged 1.9-liter direct-injection diesel. The gasoline engine teams with either a four-speed-automatic or five-speed-manual transmission, while the diesel engine comes standard with the five-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic with a Tiptronic manual-shifting provision.
Side-impact airbags, side curtain-type airbags and antilock brakes are standard.
The Golf hatchback is fun to drive in any form, and it is versatile enough to be the only automobile for a couple or small family. Its functional design mixes with the cars European heritage to create a vehicle thats been luring young buyers into VW showrooms, even though Jetta sedans vastly outsell Golf hatchbacks. The available diesel engine delivers impressive fuel economy, and its also surprisingly quiet and brisk.