By on January 9, 2019

Volkswagen Golf SportWagen

Our man Steph Willems chronicled the state of the station wagon in America a couple of days ago, reporting that longroofs (longrooves?) amounted to less than 2 percent of the new vehicle market in 2018 despite a 29 percent sales increase compared to five years earlier.

VW Group is doing its part, offering both the pricey A4 Allroad and the bargain Golf SportWagen shown here. The latter is a case of getting more for less, as the wagon is priced $160 less than its hatchback fraternal brother, despite having more horsepower and more cabin room.

And, oh yeah, it’s still available with a manual transmission.

Under its German motorhaube is a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-four, making 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. This is the same amount of twist produced by the base Golf’s 1.4L turbo but with 23 extra ponies in its stable. A five-speed manual is standard equipment, with the six-speed Tiptronic-branded automatic an $1,100 option.

Anyone reading this in the snow belt region (it is falling thick and heavy outside your author’s window, by the way) will appreciate the inclusions of heated mirrors and washer nozzles on this base VW. The latter is a particularly handy feature after a good dumping of the white stuff has clogged the jets like my arteries after a good feed of deep-fried fish and chips. The base Golf does not include such a luxury.

VW chooses to wrap the steering wheel and gearshift knob in leather, a nice feature on these touch points inside the car. Seats are cloth, as you’d expect, available in a choice of colors. Bluetooth and a rear-view camera are standard in just about everything these days, and ze Germans finally saw fit to put a USB port in this car. Danke schön.

Compared to the Golf hatchback, the wagon – sorry, wagen – has roughly the same passenger volume, at 93.5 and 94.3 cubes respectively. In fact, front seat passengers will notice no difference at all in terms of legroom and only a 0.2-inch  bump in headroom. It is the cargo area where the longroof shines, trumping its brother by 7.6 to offer 30.4 cubic feet of space. A/C and power windows are present.

The base SportWagen is priced at $21,685 compared to the base Golf at $21,845. Those seeking all-wheel drive should consider the 4Motion wagon at $23,935 rather than the jacked-up Alltrack which costs $25,955 unless they’re completely addicted to needless body cladding. Save for der neue Jetta, everything in today’s VW showroom costs over $20k.

[Images: VW]

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

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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55 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen...”


  • avatar
    jh26036

    Surprise it took this long for the GSW to show up. One year ago, several local dealers were blowing out a few 2017 6MT 4Motion GSW for sub $20k. I was tempted but did not pull the trigger. I probably will regret it once VW inevitably pulls production on this thing and make everyone buy the AllTrack.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This stays on my radar just for the fun of pronouncing it: Sport-VAGEN.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    Interesting. I always just assumed these carried a 3-4k price premium over the hatch. Never bothered to look.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Me too. Honestly, if I were looking for a new ride I’d be looking hard at this, there’s a lot of value there. Friend of mine bought a diesel wagon when Dieselgate was in full swing, she got a great deal and she loves it.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      2nd look, now I remember. It is indeed “Ace of Base” but if you want some extras, things change quick. The hatchback S to SE price spread is $2300, whereas the wagon is a $5635 jump from S to SE. Not sure of direct comparison of options in the SE between hatch/wagon. Note also at present the US VW site shows the 2018 wagon, no 2019 yet.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      Interesting that in Canada they want almost $2000 more for the wagen. Of course, they also give us a worse warranty. And we’re so nice we give them a bigger market share than in the U.S.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    They get large power out of the 2.0L, and there is no shortage of them, so why the heck do they saddle this slug with such a weaksauce mill?? At least make the real engine a $1,500 option or something, sheesh.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      The 1.4 is just fine for how most people drive (since it still has reasonable low end punch, and puts up pretty decent economy figures), but it’s disappointing that VW can’t put the case together to combine a bunch of pieces they already have for a GTI wagon (assuming it wouldn’t take that many to pay off the development costs).

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        If they were to offer a 2.0-liter, it would be the Budack-cycle unit currently in the Passat and Tiguan…which isn’t very powerful or sporty. It wouldn’t be the one in the GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      … because VW is not allowed to compete with Audi.

      And a Sportwagen with a 2.0T would cut Allroad sales to an even smaller number, no?

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I could easily live with one of these.

    However…..if they offered a GTI version, I’d be leaving home right now, to get in line at the dealership!

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    In an era where the Japanese brands are getting weird with styling, I find this restrained Teutonic look quite attractive. Not sure how good their 6yr/60k b-to-b warranty is in reality, but it at least looks good on the screen.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    @Matthew:
    Not sure why you’re highlighting last year’s model here…

    The 2019 apparently has the 1.4T from the Jetta.

    • 0 avatar
      Extra Credit

      For 2019 there is one important exception: the 1.8TSi is the only motor available with 4MOTION all wheel drive.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Interesting.

        The tests I’ve seen of the ’19 seem to indicate there isn’t much of a performance dropoff with the 1.4T. That doesn’t surprise me – my previous car was a ’17 Jetta with that engine, and it’s darn good, as long as you keep the turbo spinning.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      It’s getting a bit annoying…..the 1.4T also has a six spd manual. Just title it to reflect that the bigger engine is going away – act fast! – and I wouldn’t mind the otherwise lazy journalism.

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      Agreed. 1.8T base GSWs are old product. ’19 has the 1.4T in most variations, and new transmissions on most Golfs. Why do an AOB on the 1.8 / old trans versions of this car at this point? Makes little sense. They did this with the Golf recently as well.

      1.4T car with 6 speed manual or 8 speed auto would be relevant. As it stands, this AOB would have been good about a year ago.

      *Don’t get me wrong. I love AOB. This one just doesn’t make any sense to me given the timing and significant model changes.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    The Sportwagen is a pleasant package. I looked at these last fall and was pretty tempted, especially in base manual-trans trim. The panoramic roof on the higher level was nice but I actually didn’t like the vinyl/leatherette seats as much as the base cloth. The AWD option in base trim is also quite tempting.

    Regardless of trim, I didn’t like the gray painted plastic on the instrument panel and center console. Perhaps someone who has one can weigh in, but I just didn’t feel like it would age well at all. The Alltrack goes to a darker gray paint, but still the same issue if possibly less noticeable over time.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Matthew, this article and the pricing you listed piqued my interest, significantly.

    VW Canada’s website lists the MSRP for a base Sportwagen at $24,400. With a $1,685 freight charge and a $499 dealer charge. Purchase price for a base Sportwagen with an auto (yeah, I know) and a block heater came to $28,474 plus tax of $3,701.62. For a purchase cost of $32,175.62 for a ‘base’ Golf wagon!! Minus of course any haggling.

    Base prices for some of their other vehicles are Jettas at $20,995, a Golf is $22,500, and an AllTrack is a staggering $31,200.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      And the Passat starts at $33,000 plus $1800 freight! I guess they really don’t want to sell any.

    • 0 avatar
      formula m

      I was able to get my sister an ’18 CRV EX AWD. That’s heated seats, sunroof, cvt auto, 4wd, Honda Sensing safety features, auto start, etc… for $31,500++
      in Ottawa, Ontario.

      Even a 2wd LX with auto starts at $27,400 msrp

      way better resale, economy and reliability

  • avatar
    ijbrekke

    The trim and packaging schemes on these are kind of maddening. Base model? You’re stuck with an archaic 5-speed manual. But you’ll pay more for a 6-speed manual and more features, you say. Can’t have it, have to go to the Alltrack. Sunroof with a manual? Alltrack. GTI or Golf R versions in wagon body? Can’t have them.

    It’s awesome that VW sells the only affordable wagon with a manual transmission in America. But if you’re gonna do that (and cater to enthusiasts) just do it all the way and put together trim packages that make sense for car people. The engines and parts already exist, they just have to offer them. Alltrack for the masses, Sportwagen for members of this website and Jalopnik. Solved.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      You want fast wagon?

      You buy Allroad, get rings on grill, peasant!

      (I love the Allroad. Equally, I will never buy one, because they are ludicrously overpriced for what they are.)

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      2019 gets transmission upgrades. 6 speed manual and 8 speed auto in base trim. Now, that being said, the 5 speed manual VW used is/was perfectly fine in this car–and unlike most manual cars these days, featured nice tall highway gearing. Pretty much to opposite of, say, a Honda Fit which has ridiculously short gearing for US roads.

      The reason trim schemes are limited is that about ten people a year buy compact station wagons per year in the USA. About three of those people are interested in a performance variant of the same. With very limited sales volume, it is impossible to justify bringing in a wide range of trims or wide range of options. Small SUVs have just about sucked the life out of the station wagon market in the U.S., in case you haven’t noticed.

      There just isn’t a business case for it here whatsoever. Even if VW did everything the way you mention. The number of enthusiasts who would plunk down actual cash for the perfectly equipped Golf SW that you mention would be miniscule. VW could allow people to order a GSW with the hot GTI engine and offer every option a la carte, making it possible for the enthusiast to spec the perfect car, and it wouldn’t generate enough sales to be relevant in the least. A few sales the first year and then it peters out once the little bit of pent up demand that exists for such a car is satisfied.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I had a TDI wagon and liked it a lot , the auto was very good, but that was a Duel Cluch auto while you get a 5 speed auto here which I hear is no where near as good, Space was great and the seats were surprisingly good coming from a volvo wagon. I love the look but would more than likely step up to the non bear bones to get a pano roof and the better auto if it is offered, Kudus to VW for offering the last cheap wagon. The interior on my 2011 looked better than the one in the photo I agree with the all silver being a bad look.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You get a 6-speed automatic, or a 5-speed manual. Unless you opt for the 4MOTION version, and then the manual transmission becomes a 6-speed.

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        My Bad Kyree but it is not the DSG tranny for the TDI correct?

        Sadly my TDI liked to eat High Preassure Fuel pumps and they were very pricey to repair, ( VW paid for one the second one went and I was sol, got it repaired w as little cash outlay as possible ( less than $1500 IIRC) and drove it 20 miles back to VW for the buyback)

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      I think for ’19 you get a 6 speed manual or an 8 speed auto for the FWD versions.

  • avatar
    Fred

    In 2014 I rejected the VW for the rather selfish reason that it reminded me of my current Audi A3, and I wanted something different. So I got the Acura.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    Motorhaube is a noun, therefore it should be capitalized.

    And that was my good deed for the day! :)

  • avatar
    jnyquist504

    I have had a 2013 JSW Diesel since new (kept the money VW gave me through Dieselgate) and with 165,000 on clock, I am absolutely amazed at how well the car has held up. I’m less amazed mechanically because I was anticipating many miles and years of service when I bought it, but the interior with the ‘leatherette’ looks like new. In fact, the entire interior still looks great. To underscore the overall durability, my daughter has been financing the vehicle from me from around 60,000 miles and has put on 100,000+ miles driving Uber in Chicago in all weather and road conditions with tons of use (and abuse) of all interior surfaces. Yes, overall maintenance is higher w/ the DSG — and the diesel probably cost more to own in the end (not counting the VW payments), but beyond that, this was probably one of the best vehicle purchases I’ve made.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I like it, and I’ve heard it handles better than the Alltrak. The only thing wrong is that you have to give up the stickshift if you want goodies like a moonroof.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I’d argue the better one is this car but with the 1 trim that has a manual and 4Motion.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    I have a 2018 S model with the 5 speed. I’m very impressed with the car and I’d buy another. First VW I’ve ever owned.

    This from somebody that has a Challenger RT stick and a new diesel Ram. The little wagon is actually fun to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      syncro87

      Bill, I’m interested in your thoughts regarding the steering. The steering on mine drove me mad to the point where I eventually traded the car when I got an offer on it I couldn’t refuse vs. what I had paid.

      Mine would not track straight on the highway. Always tracking a tiny bit right of center or left of center. No matter how hard you tried, you were always going a tiny bit right or left in your lane. It drove me nuts. I had the alignment checked/adjusted by VW and a reputable independent. Nothing wrong. Switched out wheels / tires. Same thing. After throwing a bunch of time, effort, and money at the issue, I traded the car.

      I’ve owned a lot of VWs, including every generation of Rabbit/Golf. Many other VWs. Had never experienced this steering issue. Nobody could explain it or cure it.

      My GSW also had the worst clutch feel of any VW I’ve owned, most of which were manuals. I could live with that but not the demonic steering.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        I own a 17 S4mo manual and I’m very familiar with the Golf family so I’m going to take a guess on your rack issue, and I know what’s up with the clutch for certain.

        The steering racks have all kinds of compensating software for crosswinds, center crowned roads etc… Obviously you didn’t have an alignment issue and I doubt your techs missed a control arm or similar suspension problem so my bet is an issue in whatever control module or sensor that governs the rack. I’ve never heard of that failure before, so I have no doubt it led to frustration.

        As far as the clutch goes the fix is simple. VW (and others) put a little gear looking plastic pill with a hole in the middle in line with the clutch hydraulics to meter the rate at which the clutch engages/disengages. It adds a very wooly feel to the engagement and I bet is there to make shifting less a game of get it exactly right and more of a relaxing and easy to do thing. Keep in mind that this isn’t an enthusiast product except in the minds of us Americans, everywhere else they sell these cars it’s a vanilla family car, and not-car-people buy those manuals. I took mine out and the difference is stark. Every GTI or Alltrack manual owner that drives my car notices it immediately and asks how to make it happen with theirs. Given that I’m not longer by default excessively slipping my clutch every gear engagement I’d bet my friction plate lasts longer now as well.

        I’ve taken those clutch pills out of GTI’s and R’s as well now (2 minute job leaning into the hood of the car, just bleed the line afterwards), and those cars have different numbers stamped in their pills. I’m assuming they look for different flow rates with those applications, as stock they all engage cleaner the more performance oriented they are. If I were to do this for a senior family member or something I’d probably switch to a Golf R restrictor instead of just removing it entirely. Anyone who owns a manual 6 speed MQB VW product should go and do this immediately in my opinion.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    My local dealership is offering one of these with an automatic for $19,466. 13 miles on the clock and with that 6 year warranty.

    I’d heard VW quality isn’t the best, but I love the way they look.

  • avatar
    darex

    Want a manual Sportwagen, but don’t want to play VW’s unreasonable packaging restriction games? Get a MINI Clubman, configure it any way you like, and opt for the 6-speed manual, which can be had with every trim, including with AWD. The Clubman’s more reliable than any VW anyway.

  • avatar
    Yurpean

    In case someone is still reading this thread, you can get any VW except the Golf R at $500 below invoice if you are a SCCA member ($65 per year). No haggling, just print out the certificate and buy the car.

    • 0 avatar
      walked48

      I just bought an AOB, 2018 VW Golf SportwagEn S Auto. It’s perfect for me and it was a good deal in my opinion:

      MSRP was $24k
      Sale price before tt&l was $16.8k

      PS. I negotiated a best price of $17.2k then they subtracted $500 after that for the SCCA discount to end up with $16.8k. I signed up for SCCA while in the salesman’s office. :)


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