The Golf SportWagen is the ideal vehicle for those needing generous cargo carrying ability without wanting to move up to an expensive crossover or high-riding SUV. 2017 sees the addition of some new equipment and the availability of an all-wheel drive version which should further expand its appeal.
The interior of the SportWagen is a familiar place for anyone acquainted with the rest of the Golf range, good quality materials abound and few competitors offer this level of fit and finish. The switchgear and buttons feel solid but the infotainment system is a bit outdated and could do with an upgrade.
The Sportwagen is all about interior space and there is ample room for five adults, although it helps if the one sitting in the middle of the second row is not particularly large.
The cargo space is where the SportWagen really scores over similarly priced hatchbacks and sedans, with the rear seats folded down it offers as much space as some mid-sized SUVs. A low load height makes it easier to lift heavy boxes into the back too.
Golf should have just called this the Wagen as the Sport prefix may raise the hopes of those expecting an engaging driving experience.
To be fair, it drives well enough in most situations however it does not excel in any one area and it is no more than a competent family wagon with a decent ride quality.
This is about as much as most shoppers want in this segment, the cabin is quiet and the available automatic transmission is smooth-shifting which makes for unruffled progress.
The SportWagen is fitted with a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, maximum outputs are 170 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels through either a 5-speed manual (torque is reduced to 184 lb-ft when fitted with this option) or 6-speed automatic transmission and the available four-wheel drive trim features a unique 6-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Performance levels are competitive for the segment and the SportWagen responds well to demands from the drivers’ right foot. The heavier four-wheel drive system lowers fuel economy levels but the quick-shifting DSG transmission gives the SportWagen slightly better acceleration figures than its front-wheel drive counterparts.
Fuel economy figures differ slightly based on specification chosen but up to 22 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway is claimed.
The Golf SportWagen is available in S, S with 4motion, SE and SEL trim levels.
The base S model is the only trim available with either the manual or automatic transmission and notable features include a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility, rearview camera, partially-powered front seats, 8-pseaker audio system with satellite radio and USB connectivity. Heated side mirrors, 15-inch wheels and roof rails are also standard fitment.
The S with 4motion trim adds heated front seats, 16-inch wheels a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive.
SE trim is available solely with the 6-speed automatic and includes the base S level items and offers additional driver assistance systems, keyless entry, premium audio system, leatherette upholstery with heated front seats and automatic headlights. An available Driver Assistance Package offers collision warning and emergency braking systems as well as adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.
SEL trim adds 18-inch wheels, navigation and climate control while also incorporating all the standard and available items found on the SE. Unique available options include surround parking sensors, parking assist, lane departure warning and lane departure warning.
Offering a capable and practical alternative to the high-riding crossover crowd, the Golf SportWagen combines the usual Golf hatchback attributes with a far more generous cargo area. The decent performance levels and available all-wheel drive trim level will also ensure that this little load-lugger won’t get left behind in the cut and thrust of the urban jungle.