June 15, 2024

After experoencing the VW Golf GTI and Passat recently, and last week experiencing the new VW Jetta, I would’ve expected the best base for a stationwagon version of a VW would be the Passat and the Jetta. I’ve seen many Passat stationwagon versions driving around all over Europe, but here they are not there, yet I hope. I would’ve picked those cars since they are sedans, with more length and more trunk to actually build usable space on for any kind of carrying of goods. So admittedly I was a little suprised to find VW, for the huge load carrying United States, decided to put on the market an estate version of the VW Golf and call it a SportWagon. Admittedly, it is a different approach, and I can see how the intention was to move it away from the soccer mom image and into the surf, snowboard and ski sports segment. The roof rack and the paddles on the steering wheel indicate precisely that. The wheels and huge sidewall tires take drastically away from that. If the design intent had been carried through consistently, with big wheels and low profile tires, it would have been a very convincing statement. As is, it seems a bit of a compromise.

Image is everything these days, and the design lines found on this Golf SportWagon clearly follow on from the dynamic use of surfaces and cutlines found on the Golf. In that respect it is very different from the Jetta, and a much more dynamic looking total. If you put the pictures of the Gold GTI next to these though, you can see what a difference those wheels and tires make. Just imagine how good this Golf Sportwagon would’ve looked with the GTI wheels and tires. I can imagine that the surf/snowboard and ski crownd would indeed flock to the dealership. Perhaps a bright, active, paint scjeme would have enhanced it even more?

Driving the Golf Sportwagon is a similar contradiction. The paddles on the steering wheel offer the option to make for an active shift drive through the twists and turns of the 74 highway, but the feedback from the suspension isn’t quite there. I felt too much body roll, not enough harschness, maybe too soft a suspension setting, to really make me confident in driving more dynamically. This is totally surprising given what I was saying last week about the 2019 Jetta. In the Jetta I could easily find the cars limits and loved driving it on the same Highway 74 pushing it through the corners near the limits, since it was very predictable. A more sporty car should have been, to me, more confidence inspiring to do at least the same, if not much better.

Maybe that is a suggestion to VW for the next versions: If you want to create a sporty feel, carry that image through to everything. It is worth the money and people will pay for it. A half baked wannabe solution is nobody’s cup of tea.

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