Vehicle Overview
Structurally related to the four-door Jetta sedan, Volkswagen's compact front-wheel-drive Golf hatchback comes with either two or four doors. The automaker also produces a performance-oriented companion called the GTI coupe.

A new version of Volkswagen's 1.9-liter diesel engine rated at 100 horsepower became available for 2004. Other than updated onboard diagnostics software, little has changed for 2005. Two-door Golfs come only in a GL trim level, while four-door hatchbacks are offered in GL and GLS versions. Volkswagen's Electronic Stabilization Program stability system is optional on the GL and GLS. A redesigned Golf is expected by early 2006.

Volkswagen's 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 provided for four years.

The Golf hatchback stands nearly 57 inches tall, has a 98.9-inch wheelbase and measures 164.9 inches long overall. The bumpers, side moldings, mirror housings and grille are body-colored. The GLS comes with a power sunroof. All-season tires are mounted on 15-inch wheels.

Upright hatchback styling allows the driver and passengers to sit more vertically than in most small cars. Space is adequate for four adults, though the interior is intended to seat up to five. The area behind the rear seat holds 18 cubic feet of cargo. Split rear seatbacks fold for additional storage room, creating a total of 41.8 cubic feet of cargo space when folded. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, a CD/cassette stereo, a manual tilt/telescoping steering column, and power windows, locks and mirrors.

An optional Cold Weather Package for the GLS includes heated front seats and heated front windshield washer nozzles. A Monsoon sound system is standard in the GLS, and General Motors' OnStar communication system is optional on all models.

Under the Hood
The Golf's 2.0-liter four-cylinder produces 115 hp, while the available turbocharged 1.9-liter four-cylinder diesel generates 100 hp. The gasoline engine teams with a five-speed-manual or four-speed-automatic transmission, and the diesel engine comes standard with the five-speed manual or an optional five-speed automatic with the Tiptronic manual-shift provision.

Side-impact airbags, side curtain-type airbags and antilock brakes are standard.

Driving Impressions
The Golf hatchback is a versatile, functional, fun-to-drive small car. The available diesel engine delivers impressive fuel economy, and it's also surprisingly quiet and brisk.