By on December 7, 2016

2017 VW Golf

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that might not be the best of its range but represents a merciful departure from the rattletrap boxes of sadness which, not too many years ago, used to be hawked by OEMS as their base wheels. Here’s an example.

Sure, it’s easy to mock Volkswagen these days. The diesel emissions scandal has scuppered the brand in the eyes of a number of consumers, adding to traditional VW stereotypes such as high repair and maintenance costs. All the same, excluding an entire brand from consideration because of a single wayward trimline is akin to throwing out a fifty pound sack of potatoes because of one rotten spud.

In the past, Americans treated hatchbacks with a degree of disdain generally leveled at soiled copies of Utne Reader. The Golf is definitely one of the better hatchbacks out there. Does its base S model pass the Ace of Base litmus test?

Underneath the base Golf sits similar architecture to the much-lauded GTI and R. Sure, the particulars are different but the same MQB bones are there. No matter the trim, a Golf doesn’t exactly wallow around in corners. This is more than can be said for the majority of its competitors. The base S is shod with 15-inch tires, relative piano wheels compared to the jumbo hoops seen on most vehicles, but that just means owners can replace all four tires without taking out a second mortgage on the house. The generously proportioned sidewalls of the smaller diameter rubber also contributes to a ride quality that won’t shake your fillings loose on every freeway expansion joint.

Sharp headlight clusters incorporate a detail line which runs the length of the car. There’s a poised yet elegant appearance here, a stoic foil to the flamboyant Mazda 3. A raft of $0 colors ranging from Tornado Red to Silk Blue are on offer, in addition to traditional Teutonic hues on the greyscale. A direct-injected 1.8-liter TSI inline-four making 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of twist means the thing can more than get out of its own way, particularly when stirred by the standard five-speed manual transmission.

Those who sign the note on a $19,895 Golf S will not suffer for standard equipment. Power windows with one touch up/down are found in all four-doors, while the center stack features niceties like a backup camera and Bluetooth with streaming audio. Natty leather wraps the steering wheel and handbrake handle.

Mercifully, thanks to a small segment of buyers, they’ve enjoyed something of a resurgence. That manufacturers see fit to equip them better than the average battle-scarred penalty box in a run-down arena helps immensely in their acceptance. Hatchbacks are vastly practical and the Golf is no exception, easily swallowing a full-sized bicycle in a cargo compartment that measures a full 52.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

What do you think, B&B? Does the base Golf S help atone for the sins of its dirty diesel brother? Or are they all tarred with the same sooty brush?

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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94 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2017 Volkswagen Golf S...”


  • avatar

    About the fall off the depreciation cliff like every other VW. I’ll buy a year-old one, thanks.

    • 0 avatar
      andyinatl

      A year old CPO vw with additional 24 month bumper to bumper included is likely best value. Costs less than a new one, and you end up with additional year of warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      This hasn’t been my impression when casually shopping them in my home, Canadian market. I’m more of a “buy used” kind of guy, and I didn’t feel like the savings were worth it for a 2-3 year-old one, especially when you factor in that at the time that meant going with the older Mk6.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Eh… Our local dealers are advertising a crazy amount ooff of MSRP, and Truecar is backing it up. Unless there is money hidden somewhere, the new ones are almost cheaper than the fresh CPOs in most cases right now.

    • 0 avatar
      kmgreen23

      This may not apply to the base Golf, but the GTI is forecast for 55% at three years which is very high in the compact class. Intellichoice lists the base Golf as having above average in value rating over a 5 year period. Facts trump opinion.

  • avatar
    Joss

    +1

    If your dealer has inventory… base hard to find. Spring 2016 all I could find were mid-trim or the wagon thingy.

  • avatar
    Sam Hall

    Tempting, but the price has to be right. Also needs the right buyer, that can put up with sanctimonious people who have to bring up the diesel scandal when they find out what you drive.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I loved loved loved the TSI rental I had earlier this year. It handled exactly like the 3i rental I had not long before, and that engine is magnificent. You just surf the torque plateau from ~2000-4000 and you can make serious haste. Very quiet and comfy while still being surefooted. It drove like a luxury car.

    I don’t know that I would want one with the 5 speed to be honest. The chassis is good in an old Benz way- solid, surefooted, comfortable, but not fun. When I had the rental I never thought “wow this thing would be better with a stickshift”… it didn’t egg me on in that way. I think that is smart on VW’s part- if this thing were a baby GTI the GTI would be a tough sell.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Does all that mean it rides nice?

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Yes, among other things. It’s a good car. It’s like if someone took the essence of a W123 turbodiesel Benz and injected into a Golf.

        • 0 avatar
          OldManPants

          OK, I got the “yes”. Thanks!

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            I really liked my rental Jetta SE(?) with what I assume was the 1.4T. Over 40mpg in 75-80mph highway driving, gobbled up the worst of Indy’s potholed roads with aplomb. What I didn’t care for was the curiously lumpy/uneven idle when the engine was cold, didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Lots of rear legroom, big trunk. Interior was obviously nowhere near the level of the larger Passat SE that I was head over heels over, but if you could find one at a blow out price of $14-15k or something, it’d be a hell of a nice commuter or first car. So much better than the forgettable Forte sedan I had more recently (ignoring long term reliability here).

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            “gobbled up the worst of Indy’s potholed roads with aplomb”

            Dass wut I talkin’ about! Thanks, Mr. Pertinent.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    They must have shuffled trim levels and pricing around. I just “built” one online and the price seemed more reasonable than the last time I checked. Man the VW website was slow though.

    • 0 avatar
      la834

      VW really ripped out the heart of the Golf hatchback line for 2017. The vast majority of configurations have been discontinued. All 3-doors are gone. All SE (mid-line) and SEL (top-line) models are gone. Lighting package no longer available. Driver assist package no longer available (although some of its items are standard now). The GTI is still available in 3 (sort of 4 now) trim levels, but the choice of four or so options on each of them are gone. The Performance Package, Lighting Package, Driver Assists, and DCC suspension are no longer individual options. And here too, all 3-doors are now gone.

      For the standard Golf hatchback, the only thing that wasn’t available last year is a new Wolfsburg Edition package that sits between the former S and SE trim levels and is an excellent deal, more so than the base S model. Also, the WE is available with a manual transmission, though sadly only a 5 speed.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    Fat tires are where you find ’em. Those plus the sober styling would make me ignore its family and check out its own merits.

    I’ve long wished Hondas could be enclosed in VW styling.

  • avatar
    TDIandThen....

    I think you get a lot for the money, and sidewalls, above-average sound insulation,leather steering wheel… yes, ace of base. Still want GTI but I understand we’re comparing non-GTI trims.

    Points off: 95% of VW dealers. Points back on: dedicated VW independent garages. Points off: all the 60 year-old who incessantly raise electrical problems their 20-years-ago models had.

    50+ cubic feet (errrr inches?) is many. I wish we could magically switch that to liters – I can understand that metric.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      honsetjohn.co.uk says 1270 litres.

    • 0 avatar
      SunnyvaleCA

      Google (or Yahoo, Bing, etc) is your friend. Just type “50 cubic feet in liters” into your browser’s search bar and see what happens. SIRI voice command works just fine too. (Answer: 1415.84 liters)

      • 0 avatar
        TDIandThen....

        Yup, thank you for the suggestions.

        I meant I wish the reviewers and car-spec folks would stop even telling us cubic feet. You can visualize litre bottles stacked in the boot, but I was raised in Imperial and even I have no ideal what 50 cubic feet looks like intuitively.

  • avatar
    JSH56

    My 2016 Golf S, just now a year old, has been wonderful. Despite a couple of manufacturing recalls, it’s been error free. I love the way it handles, it’s plenty quick enough, has tons of room with the back seats down, and is a joy to drive. With Carplay standard, and Audi-like interior (I’ve owned an A5), it’s a great value at $20K. The only thing I miss is memory seats. Highly recommended and I will probably replace it with another Golf when the time comes….

    • 0 avatar
      vvk

      How is the steering feel?

      I recently tried a 2017 Passat SE and it was even worse than my old 2012 Passat. The steering in particular was terrible — no feel, like using a video game controller. Accurate but no feel at all.

      Is your’s manual or auto?

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        “no feel, like using a video game controller”

        This is sounding better and better.

        The f*ck, I don’t want a jouncing wooden tiller numbing my wrists and sinking splinters in my hands.

      • 0 avatar
        JSH56

        Steering feels good to me once you get up to speed. Low speed steering is nothing like a BMW but improves at higher speeds. I’ve owned several 3 series BMWs and the steering is tight at all speeds, which is good and bad. I actually prefer the easier turn at low speeds over the BMW. My A5 was the same as the VW; soft at parking lot speeds, and tighter/responsive at mid to high speeds.

        • 0 avatar
          vvk

          Yeah, I am used to E90 steering effort now but initially it felt super heavy at parking lot speed. Steering feel is outstanding, though — you know exactly what happens to the front end. E60 steering is light at low speed but stiffens up significantly once you get going. Steering feel is very good, maybe slightly behind the E90.

          • 0 avatar
            KevinC

            Having owned an early E90, and now with a ’16 Golf R and ’15 Golf TDI that my girl is about to sell back to VW, I can attest that the electric PS, which I generally hate, is pretty decent here. There’s not a lot of feel to it, but it does load up nicely, unlike other electric setups I’ve driven, like my former ’10 Mini S, which was as numb as humanly possible.

            The problem with the base model is that the lighting package is no longer available on any non-GTI/non-Alltrack Golf, as it had been the last 2 years. Our TDI was ordered with it at the mid SE trim level, as well as 6MT. Also the base golf inexplicably only gets a 5-speed manual, no 6th cog.

            This car would be perfect if the lighting package and upgraded Fender audio were offered as standalone options. And put the 6MT in it please.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Not much of it. It’s way behind the hydraulic system in my Civic and even behind the EPS in my wife’s ~10 yr old Rabbit. Reminds me a lot of the steering in the 350Z- not much feel through the wheel, so you have to learn how to listen to the chassis. It wasn’t bad to where I would write it off though, just not great. It’s leaps and bounds ahead of the EPS racks from H/K for example.

  • avatar
    threeer

    Really was interested in a base Golf (mit Gangschalter!) but just couldn’t fit the family, dog (and her show stuff) inside. Had a 2000 Golf back in the day and absolutely loved it…until I didn’t (amazing, almost to the day the warranty expired, so did a number of items on the car). But I wouldn’t take my experience of 17 years ago and hold it up as a litmus test for buying a new VW, if I were in the market for a new car.

    I look at the new Golf, especially in that really pretty blue metallic and think that it’d be a great commuter car, but then I also remember that I’m not independently wealthy and can’t afford a separate vehicle for each occasion/need.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    IF I was to buy a new/used small hatchback, this could be on my radar…

    …IF I and almost everyone owning VWs (approx a dozen out of 14 people) hadn’t had such awful reliability and dealership and VW North America (where customer goodwill is so absent they might as well start strafing Americans with 88mm again) *issuesO….

    …IF I was confident beyond 11% that this, like most VWs, won’t be a rattletrap after transversing U.S. roads within 22,000 miles…

    …IF I was beyond 7% confident that this thing won’t suffer from electronic gremlins, coilpack/vaporlock/transmission/suspension woes galore out of warranty…

    If a manufacturer were to combine this interior, ride quality, motor HP/torque curve-delivery, quiet ride (especially for class), ergonomics, paint/metal quality, and suspension set-up with 80% of Honda/Toyota reliability/durability, and even Subaru-level customer service/respect, I might one day consider VeeDub again.

    Until that day arrives, not a snowball’s chance in Hades.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      I’m friends of the family that owns the local VW dealership so I’d expect to have a little crony insurance there.

      Otherwise, yeah, having to depend on the smarmy, ignorant Al Bundy Jr.s I’ve seen at other Dub dealerships would be prohibitive.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      I agree DeadWeight.

      Although….if VW made a GTI Sportwagen, I’d probably take the plunge.

    • 0 avatar
      RetroGrouch

      I drove a 2017 Civic hatchback this weekend. Wow! The chassis was great and the 1.5 turbo gave it the torque that Honda never had. The $2000 or so premium for the base Civic LX hatch over the Golf is money well spent.

      I liked this weekend’s Focus hatch as well. There is pretty much no reason to go to the VW dealer any more.

      EDIT: I will probably end up with a lightly used Mazdaspeed 3. The price is right and the body/drivetrain provide enough utility/fun that I can overlook the torquesteer. If I had to buy a new hatch right now, the Civic would be my budget choice. The Focus ST would be the one if I had a few more bucks.

      • 0 avatar
        spookiness

        Focus is good if you don’t need an ATX or much room. Civic seems ok if you are blind.

      • 0 avatar
        frico

        Your list of cars sounds like my short list – I am looking for a vehicle with four doors (hatch or sedan) a six-speed manual and good driving dynamics. The Civic, Focus ST, Mazda 3 and GTI (along with the WRX on the high price end, also aware of the Kia Forte5 on the low end) look good on paper – Now I need to start getting seat time. Can you summarize the three you drove in terms of shifter feel, driving feel, and ergonomics (to include non-frustrating UI)?

        • 0 avatar
          focus-ed

          I can compare 2015 Golf (owned for 26k) with 2016 GTI (just 4k). Both in S trim. Both MT (how else). 2 door (personal preference, primary reason I got VW, you can’t get them new any more). I like them both. Golf was better deal (especially as it was more of real need than a fancy, oh well). Golf’s engine is almost the same (the block) but differences in tune are surprising. I think that I actually preferred 1.8 over 2.0 – simpler and powerful enough (both can be “tuned” for more). I was not a turbo believer but I really got to like the bipolar nature (especially when complemented with MT). The only improvement would be a cable operated throttle (yep) and variable geometry turbo. Spooling it up in 2nd and 3rd is fun (both Golf and GTI). It’ll keep up with just about anything when used right and it’ll still average 39 (GTI) to 43 (Golf), calculated at the pump. Regular gas. Easy (trivial) oil changes due to location of the drain plug and oil filter. Transmission – GTI is better as it’s easier to crawl in traffic or move up without stalling it (Golf has really tall 1st, 5th is higher than 6th in GTI and your mpgs will reflect this). Shifter is fine, my brother prefers Mazda, I don’t care. Having 6 gears is better than 5. Clutch – all the same = fine, what matters is the easier 1st and reverse in GTI. Clutch bleeder valve orifice is the mod I did not attempt on Golf (that would likely matter more on it). Small side mirrors but otherwise great overall visibility, especially with removed rear seat headrests (the middle one is fine, the other two just get in the way, I rarely have passengers so I don’t care). Backup camera in 16+ models is welcome improvement. Interior – just about the same with GTI scoring points for plaid seats (arguably leatherette seats in Golf would be easier to maintain long term) and dark headliner – bright fabric in Golf was showing every fingerprint and made me “paranoid” while packing anything large and dirty like a bike (new car syndrome I guess). Plenty of cargo space as in any proper hatch (and the trunk floor can be lowered). Decent seats and plenty of legroom (you have to be like 7′ to move driver seat all the way back), plenty of headroom (I did not have sunroof). Both driver and passenger seat have the same adjustments (maybe both are driver seats, with right one being from UK market). New models have better infotainment system with carplay and standard USB plug being the major improvement (though I’d never had problems with BT audio in Golf). Sound in the “base” models is just fine – some sources lack the level, carplay is fine. Simple fob/key was on original battery when I traded it in (almost 2 years). Dash layout/controls are simple and just right (real buttons and knobs) with the rear wiper lever actions not exactly my favorite (coming from Ford, similarly to reverse gear selection btw). GTI has heated front seats, fancy interior ambient lighting. It’s quiet at idle (engine barely audible). Interior remains quiet on good roads but rolling noise gets louder on rough pavement, possibly due to rigidity of the chase and supposedly a trait common to hatches (still way quieter than the old car). Overall quietness will “amplify” some rattles (more so in the stiffer GTI), let’s call this part of the economy car experience. AC is not as cold as in the old focus (but heat is) and the blower motor seems slightly more audible (and for whatever the reason having it on increases idle rpm). Exterior paint somewhat thin compared to 02 focus (now that all paint is water based) but seems like more care has been take to rust proof it and even the brake lines are coated and hopefully will stay rust free. Quality of parts/engineering in the engine bay seems high. Overall style/exterior is classy though I’d like more color options (like in Europe). Lights – no LP on either of my cars but standard halogens are fine, replacing bulbs is as easy as it gets (DLR burned out in GTI right after delivery) and cheap (wait until those LED modules have to be replaced for any reason). And plenty of aftermarket lights is available if one liked or had to replaced damaged one (some coding may be required). GTI has LED fogs (now I need the euro light switch to get them on with just DLR;). Wheels – 15″ on Golf proved too soft for me (better mpgs though) and I swapped them for 205R55 16 – this restored proper balance for Golf (and I was able – after re-positioning wheel weight – to transfer them onto my non-PP GTI, yep, I don’t care what others say about this). Golf is quite a bit softer than GTI and sits a bit higher (still, driver position in both can be set really low to feel like a sports car). Both carve corners nicely (even on them 16″ wheels) with GTI being obviously better (I can’t imagine why someone would want to lower or stiffen it any more unless just for looks). Oh, and the primitive (or just simple;) TPMS allows for wheel changes with no need to go to dealer/pay for re-calibration, valves etc. Brakes are fine with GTI’s being supposedly better (I can tell no difference in daily use). Steering feel (or maybe just weight) is better in GTI (and can be adjusted), close to my “benchmark” of 02 focus. I bet I missed some but to conclude – Golf/GTI are the few or Euro compacts available here that come close to design of old Civic hatch. Get one while still available with MT for autonomous drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      DW,

      One correction: there is no “VW North America.”
      VWoA is known for screwing customers. VW Canada offers decent customer service.

      They both sell the same product, but the Canadian arm has twice the market share. That’s because they realize that comping a water pump impeller is much much cheaper than losing a customer, and everyone within earshot of that customer.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      As a lover of cars you are thinking about this the wrong way. If you buy a Honda you only get to drive a Honda for 5-10 years. But if you buy a VW you get to drove many other cars while yours in the shop. If more TTAC writers owned VWs we would have many more reviews. So really VW is the car lovers choice.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        This is a fair point.

        The average, repeat Honda buyer will perhaps own 5 to 9 cars during his/her life.

        The average, repeat VW buyer will own 20 to 36!

      • 0 avatar
        TheDoctorIsOut

        Well here you go – owner of a 2009 Jetta Sportwagen TDI. Let’s skip over the diesel cheat for the moment except to say I’ve enjoyed 36mpg in combined driving and 44mpg on the open road with virtually no diesel clatter finding its way inside. The DSG has been a bit jerky but reliable and has been sorted out in newer models I’ve driven. Only non-scheduled repair was due to a leak in the panoramic sunroof plus the SoCal sun ate through the fabric sunshade. The repair of the leak was covered by a class action lawsuit and I wish I’d thought of applying the limo tint to the sunroof glass about 90,000 miles sooner. Had I not listened to the wife who insisted on that sunroof I could report here on over 111,000 trouble free miles. So skip the panorama sunroof which just adds 100 lbs anyway and you have a very pleasant and comfortable car with great drivebility. Every horror story I read here about the unreliability of VWs has been counter to my experience and several other VW owners I know. I’d keep it another 100,000 miles if it weren’t for dieselgate and that I think the gen 1 EA288s are unrepairable. So that’s one happy contemporary VW owner’s story, I imagine there’s others.

        • 0 avatar
          cgjeep

          Our 2016 also had a leaky sunroof. It was 5 months old with 7k miles on it. They stated that the drain tubes were pinched from the factory. They had to replace the stained headliner. While replacing the headliner they broke the windshield. While replacing the windshield they broke the rear view mirror. We had a Jetta for 21 days. After the second week they called and asked if we wanted something nicer to drive. I said yes, an Accord please. They actually offered me an Optima (they are a VW/KIA dealer). I kept the Jetta, was just being a smart ass. Then one week after getting it back the sunshade fell of in wife’s lap. But the dealer was very nice about it. 8 more days and maybe I can file a lemon claim.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        I kind of like that idea. Replace “rental reviews” with “loaner reviews”!

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Very refreshing perspective, DW. You combined some disparate facts in an entirely original way. It really adds to the conversation.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    so deadweight, this before a cadillac?

    sorry, i’m trolling……..

    a few years ago i test drove a 2012 two door, base golf (no heated seats, no bluetooth, plastic steering wheel, etc) and i liked it. even at 6’3″ i fit quite well and it was snappy around town. a bit later i tried a 2012 tdi version and absolutely loved it. omg the driving response was wonderful and it was on sale and it was boring as shit white and i passed because it was too small to carry any teenagers. it would have been great for me but not for schlepping any more than 1 other person.

    now that the boys are out of the house and/or driving themselves i would consider one again. but it needs a stick and good seats. not sure if the ace of base has good cloth seats like the 2009-2014 years did.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I would rather have a new Golf with the 1.8 liter TSI than a Cadillac ATS if those were my only two options.

      I am in no way joking or exaggerating.

      This Golf is 89.3% DNA to the Audi A3 in terms of feel and refinement, which I much prefer to the Pontillac G6.

  • avatar
    derekson

    I think for 2017 the Wolfsburg is a better deal. ~1500 more for heated seats, keyless entry, Vtex seats, blindspot monitor, and sunroof. And better looking alloys. Possibly some other minor things I missed.

    • 0 avatar
      Der_Kommissar

      And, importantly, 16 inch wheels. I’m no fan of huge wheels, but the 15 inchers on the base model really dilute the benefit of the golf chassis. I’d upgrade just to get out of those.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I’d put forth the Sportwagen as a companion to this. $1500 gets you the same car with 30 cubic feet behind the rear seats. These cars are a solid deal for the asking price, extremely practical, and they drive well.

    The death of the 2.0TDI is no loss; the 1.8 turbo is quicker and has closed part of the mileage gap.

    My 2010 5 cylinder Sportwagen wasn’t worth as much as I’d have liked when I traded out of it recently, but over the 7 years and 85K miles I owned it the only expenses were a set of tires and routine replacement of spark plugs, brake fluid, and engine coolant. It was a fantastic car that felt and drove well above its modest $20K retail price. My only concern about the current one is the reliability of the 1.8T. The 2.5 was solid.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    We(wife)got a 16 wagon Limited Edition last year. I think it is the equivalent of the Wolfsburg edition this year but the Limited (panoroof, fake leather, push button start, active cruise control, 17in alloys, heated seats, collision braking, cross traffic monitor) was only available on the Wagon last year. That package made it cheaper than a comparably equipped non wagon Golf.

    While the 17 in wheels look great, they come with 45 profile tires. This car isn’t sporty enough to need 45 profile tires. I just assume have 16in wheels or 15 with more sidewall. Ride is a little harsh on sharp impacts. Will probably swap out when these tires are used up.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    My daughter is convinced she wants a Kia Soul, and I’d like to convince her that this is a better option– partly because I’d like her first car to be a manual, and the manual soul is the 1.6L. We have a few years, but I think we’ll be looking at 2016-2017 models. What do you all think?

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      I think talking your daughter out of Asian build quality and into German should probably be reported to the proper authorities.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Does she want her first car to be a manual?

      If you’re shopping used for a non-sporty car, wanting to find a manual is going to seriously complicate the process.

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        I want her first cat to be a manual in a (possibly futile) effort to increase her focus on the road. Her initial efforts behind the wheel of anything larger than a golf cart have not been confidence inspiring.

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          I looked up the Kia Soul in AutoTrader. Of the 262 new Souls in inventory, five have a stick shift. Finding one of these used in a few years will be tough.

          I have two daughters, one is 15 and the other it 16 and a half. The eldest is not too automotively focused, and took a little longer to learn to drive. She is a very cautious driver, to the point that she annoys some of the more impatient drivers who are following her. I don’t think giving her a manual transmission to deal with would be anything but a further distraction.

          Unless a new driver is interested in sporty cars or is planning on moving to Europe, I wouldn’t bother teaching them to drive a stick. The take rate for manual transmissions is now around three percent in the U. S.. The older one was given a taste of a manual transmission when she did a Street Survival at the Skip Barber school, and came back considerably less than impressed.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      I taught all my daughters to drive a stick – two of them still own and prefer driving a stick to this day. I wanted to make sure that they would never get stranded in a “put out or walk” scenario by some low-life with a manual-shift datemobile. They’re able to knock him out/lock him out and drive outa there.

    • 0 avatar
      Rasputin

      I don’t know your reason for wanting daughter to drive manual, but here are the reasons I bought my daughter a used Miata (10-yr-old well maintained garage queen – 31K miles!):
      #1 – She has to concentrate on DRIVING, not “infotainment.”
      #2 – Only one other passenger as a distraction, not a backseat full.
      #3 – While quick & agile, the Miata isn’t going to hit 85mph by the end of the block.

      I put considerable effort into teaching her to drive. She is one of the few drivers with whom I am comfortable as passenger. Two years ago, out of college & needing a more practical car, she purchased a 2010(?) 1-owner dealer trade-in Mazdaspeed3GT. The now 20-year-old Miata is back in my garage awaiting the purchase of her first house with a garage so she can reclaim it. Meanwhile, on sunny days I can relive my youth (an XK-150 drop head, an Alfa, & three 124 Spyders – definitely not at the same time).

  • avatar
    tonycd

    “thanks to a small segment of buyers, they’ve enjoyed something of a resurgence.”

    Sorry, but does “they” refer to Golfs, hatchbacks, or manuals?

  • avatar
    Fred

    So what are these GTI S models I see on cars.com for $19,277?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Bait and switch lies.

    • 0 avatar
      KevinC

      GTI’s have been sold at crazy-steep discounts for a while now, especially in the DC area for some reason. $6k discounts were commonly reported at vwvortex. I’d imagine great deals could be swung on Golfs too.

    • 0 avatar
      Eurylokhos

      There are big discounts out there and incentives. I just bought a new 16 GTI SE about a month ago, sticker is a hair under 32k, they started negotiations at 27k, I got them to 26k. They had $1k in owner loyalty money (I also had an 09 GTI and a 14 TDI that’s being given back), so not everyone would be eligible for that, but the rest of the incentives would be available for anyone. They also had 0% financing, but that depended on not taking any other incentives and my bank gave me 1.9% so I took the incentives.

      Id bet that a 19k GTI S could be had if it had 0 options, was a 2016 leftover, and the buyer qualified for all incentives. Don’t know if it’s regional, but I’m in NH. Looking at the website of the dealer I got my car from, they only have 2 GTIs, both 17 SE and they have $3240 off in discounts and incentives, then another $1k for existing VW owners.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I’m torn… when did vinyl seats become an “upgrade” to a good durable cloth? The base Golf/Sportwagon with cloth seats seems nicer to me. It wasn’t that long ago that “leatherette” was the least-expensive trim or only for fleet vehicles.

    I haven’t seen the VW stuff as it’s aged, but short of MBTex I haven’t seen older vinyl seats on other cars that haven’t gotten brittle and cracked. Plus cloth is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. But, I have kids so vinyl is probably a bit easier to keep clean. Anyone here have experience with Audi or VW “leatherette” after some time exposed to the elements?

    I had an older Golf, base 4-door with the old 5-cylinder engine. The engine was “meh” at best… while reliable it didn’t get very good fuel economy and wasn’t much fun to drive. What I loved, though, was that the standard seats were the bolstered GTI buckets with an understated black cloth. Those seats combined with the taller tire sidewalls and the quiet chassis made the car a great long-distance commuter, wow was it comfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      OldManPants

      Cloth rules. Boots, jackets, briefcases and big chairs can be leather; I indulge my Lexol fetish with them. Car seats need to be cloth.

    • 0 avatar
      cgjeep

      Have no fear, the vinyl seats will outlast the engine. About 4 years or 55k miles.

    • 0 avatar
      blaster668

      In my opinion, the leatherette that VW uses is nice stuff. I think it is pretty difficult to tell that it is not real leather and it holds up extremely well, much better than real leather. This is NOT cheap vinyl like old base model cars and trucks head, but good quality synthetic leather.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        I’ve had several A4s, and could honestly never be sure where the leather ended and the vinyl began. Lower-end leather today is completely disappointing. I wish cloth like I had in earlier Passats were more common today.

      • 0 avatar
        KevinC

        Agree. We had an ’09 Jetta TDI and put 85k miles on it, and the Vtex seats looked brand new when it was traded in. The seats in our 2 yr old Golf TDI are perfect, though they should be this early. That stuff is extremely durable, and the seats are comfortable and supportive, typical of German cars.

    • 0 avatar
      lon888

      The one thing I really like about my GTI is the cloth seats. Like other posters have noted – warmer in winter and cooler in summer. I put Scotchgard protectant on my seats every once and a while and it keeps them stain free. Much, much easier to live with than vinyl.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I have a 2012 Sportwagen and the wife has a 2014 Jetta sedan.

      Both cars have had parts of the driver’s seat V-Tex replaced under warranty because it was cracking. My car was the bottom seat cover, the wife’s was the top seat cover. V-Tex is nice for cleanability with a dog (or a kid), but I think the cloth is more durable based on previous cloth VWs I’ve owned.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I have not driven this model but I have to think this is a good fit for this ace of base based on my experience owning a MKV GTI and spending a week last week in a rental Jetta (older platforms) and overall really liking both.

    However, at 35, is it just me or are VW seats the most God awful on the planet? They are the only cars where within about 15 minutes I seem to get throbbing pain down my left leg, and within about 45 my lower back is killing me no matter how i adjust the seats. It’s like the shape or hardness or the way it forces you to sit just murders me. They are the only cars where I have this problem.

    Maybe the MK7 are better. I’d be happy to own a golf/GTI again at dirt cheap prices. But not with those seats.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Seats in my ’16 GTI are lightyears better than in my ’06 A3 Sport which were the most uncomfortable things I’ve ever had. I must be a glutton for punishment because I lived with them for almost 11 years. Yes, I know, a 10+ year old Audi daily driver…I might have set a record somewhere around here.

      The GTI seats aren’t perfect – I find them a bit hard, but not terrible. Nothing matches the seats in a Volvo V60 I test drove a few years ago. I almost bought that overpriced, undersized wagon just for the seats. Amazeballs.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick_515

        You are essentially describing my MKIV Jetta seats. Used to kill me.

        My A4 seats are better, but not perfect. I don’t somehow fit in them. By the way, the A4 is entering its 12th year and has nearly 140k. Drives like a boss, handless 20k miles a year without complaint and is more reliable than the Jetta it replaced by a long shot.

    • 0 avatar
      Eurylokhos

      VW seats without the adjustable lumbar kill my back. I can’t drive my wife’s (being turned in on Dec 27) TDI for more than an hour without getting lower back pain. Same with my MK4 GTI, stock seats killed my back, swapped them for ones with lumbar and I was good. My MK5 GTI and MK7 both have lumbar and I can drive them all day in comfort.

  • avatar

    Back in July I traded my three year old Civic for one of these. After having my Honda’s transmission malfunction five times and neither Honda nor my dealer would acknowledge that the car was a lemon, I’d had enough. I found a dealer in Ohio that not only made me a very nice deal on the Golf, they have been the nicest people I have ever dealt with!

    In six months I’ve took the car through twelve states, and it just turned over 10,000 miles. Other than a couple of minor squeaks and a bad coil pack, it’s been fine. After the Civics woes, which started six weeks after I bought that car, I think I made a good choice. The car, while *only* a base S model, feels like a little luxury car. If it makes it to 100k with a minimum of troubles, I’ll return for a second round for sure.

    Oh, and I did buy the extended warranty, so I’m not too worried.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      I remember when I was looking for my first new car.

      I really wanted a 2001 Jetta with the 1.8T, but those had problems with coil packs and power window clips, so I didn’t get it.

      They’re STILL having issues with coil packs. 15 years later.

      Some things never change.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Funny you say that, I have two colleagues in my office with Honda Odysseys. One has had the transmission replaced three times, the other lemon lawed his Odyssey after similar issues. Yet I get an almost daily ribbing asking me how many times my VW has been in the shop this week.

      Meh, we all have our biases.

  • avatar
    StarAZ

    First time I drove a TSI was Zipcar. I hadn’t driven anything for months and the TSI made me jumping up and down with joy the whole weekend.
    The low-end torque made it extremely easy to drive in my local traffic. The car was soft and the ride was nice.
    My friend leased a GTI and he was happy. I’m considering getting a Golf R next year.
    If you factor in the currency exchange rate, the Golf R becomes a great deal in Canada (unlike a certain Japanese roadster).

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      I’m actually surprised by how many Golf Rs I see in Montreal. Sometimes I feel like there are almost as many here as there are Mk7 GTIs. That surprises me, considering it’s over $40k and offers little visual differentiation from its little brother. Maybe people really want the AWD.

      I agree that it offers way more substance for the money than a Miata, but I still want the roadster.

      • 0 avatar
        TDIandThen....

        I’m in Montreal too (hey!), and can’t figure that out either. I did notice that the price difference between a GTI with Autobahn / Performance Pack, and an R, is not super-bigly, especially when the salesman phrases it in monthly payments. The one R owner I talked to said her husband was a 30-something programmer working for UbiSoft, and that he thought it was the most amazing thing ever while she was all like “whatever, it’s a Golf.”

        Also she didn’t clean the snow off her car’s roof, and people like that are a public hazard, so don’t worry, I stabbed her to death.

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    Looks better equipped than other ‘S’ trims within the VW group, such as the SEAT Toledo (a European/Mexican badge engineered Skoda – a Czech brand owned by VW which may be introduced into the US as a budget brand to push VW further upmarket) which in ‘S’ trim while it has the now-standard electric windows and A/C, features steel wheels with plastic wheeltrims instead even of basic balloon alloys, even lacks front seat rear-pockets!! Where are we to keep our roadmaps that never get used and CDs that we forget about?
    The alloys can be remedied third party, but seat pockets – without a nasty third party ‘seat organiser’ cannot!
    Other visible external indicators that you went for poverty spec are the lack of front foglights, and no parking sensor dimples on the rear bumper. Interior, no rear arm rest that I always put down but any rear passengers always annoyingly put back up.

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