Volkswagen has updated its compact hatchback for 2010, giving it smoother exterior styling, cabin revisions and a newly available diesel engine. It also marks the return of the "Golf" name, which had been ditched for the past few years in favor of "Rabbit." The Golf hits dealerships in fall 2009, and competitors include the Mazda3 hatchback, Honda Fit and Mini Cooper.
Smooth exterior styling was already one of the defining elements of the outgoing Rabbit, but the new Golf looks even slicker. The most significant exterior change is to its face, which has new headlights that are much more integrated into the grille than they were before. The grille itself is wider, and the lower portion of the front bumper has been restyled. Around back, new taillights closely resemble those on VW's Touareg SUV.
The base 2.5 trim level has 15-inch steel wheels with wheel covers, while the TDI diesel model gets 17-inch alloy rims. The TDI also has front fog lights. A power moonroof is optional on both models.
The cabin has a lot of updated surfaces, like new door interiors, a new center control panel, a new steering wheel and new gauges, but somehow it still looks a lot like the Rabbit; the changes are rather subtle. That's not as much of an issue as you might think, as the Rabbit had one of the nicer interiors in its class.
Standard features include air conditioning, an alarm system, cruise control, a CD stereo and eight-way-adjustable front seats. The TDI get an uplevel stereo that includes a six-CD changer, as well as a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel and a leather shift knob. Heated front seats are optional.
Under the Hood
The front-wheel-drive Golf 2.5 is powered by a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-five-cylinder engine. It can pair with a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission.
The optional 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder in the TDI makes less power — 140 hp — but produces a boatload of torque (236 pounds-feet at 1,750 rpm). It works with a six-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Fuel economy figures hadn't been released as of publication, but the gas engine's mileage should be similar to the Rabbit's — which got between 29 and 30 mpg on the highway, depending on the transmission — while the diesel engine will likely be somewhere around the Jetta TDI's estimates (40-41 mpg on the highway) and may be higher.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags for the front and back rows, and an electronic stability system. Side-impact airbags for the outer rear seats are optional.
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