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Volkswagen Golf Variant review

AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS – As you will see over the following pages, Volkswagen offers the Golf in a variety of body styles and flavours. There is of course the standard hatchback, the performance model, as well as convertible and sedan (Jetta) versions. Most of these are offered here and are familiar to Singaporeans, but the one variant that’s not, is the Golf, er, Variant, otherwise known as the station wagon to you and me.

The reason for that is down to Singaporeans’ general aversion towards wagons, but apparently, according to Volkswagen, even that attitude is changing. Which is why come early next year, Volkswagen will be bringing in the all-new Golf Variant to our shores officially for the very first time.

Based upon the seventh-generation Golf that seems to have been a runaway hit with local buyers since its introduction last year, the Golf Variant is a paragon of handsome conservativeness, looking like an elongated version of its hatch sibling. From certain angles it can even be hard to tell the two apart, and perhaps only the standard roof rails will provide a telling visual clue. Certainly, the Golf Variant looks smaller than it really is, thanks to the overall cohesiveness of the design.

It is fairly deceptive though, as the Variant is actually bigger in all dimensions over the hatch. Length is up 307mm to 4,562mm, width has been increased by 9mm to 1,799mm, and height raised by 29mm to 1,481mm. Oddly though, wheelbase is down by 2mm over the hatch, to 2,635mm, but that doesn’t seem to have a major detrimental effect on interior space, with plenty of room for still to accommodate four adults in comfort.

Of course, the one thing that an estate has to excel in is boot space, and the Golf Variant offers a more than decent 605 litres of capacity with the rear seats up. Fold the seats down though, and you’ll get an absolutely massive 1,620 litres, enough to carry plenty of golf bags, and then some. There are a couple of clever touches to make your life easier too, such as the levers that knock down the rear seats in one movement, as well as four bag hooks around the cargo area for you to hold onto your shopping and prevent spillage.

Volkswagen Singapore has yet to confirm the engine options for the Golf Variant locally, but in all likelihood it should be offered with the 1.4-litre powerplant with 140bhp and 250Nm of torque that currently underpins the Golf Sport model. Like the hatchback, the Variant felt very composed and reassuring along our fast-flowing Amsterdam test route, although the extra weight (the Variant is some 80kg or so heavier than the hatch) was rather noticeable on the highway. It certainly didn’t quite have the same sprightliness as the hatch when you’re powering along, but otherwise again there’s very little to distinguish between the Variant from its equivalent hatch, with the same delightful handling, comfortable ride, and excellent all-round refinement all present here.

In almost every regard the Golf Variant proves to be as equal as the Golf hatch, while throwing in the bonus of nearly double the boot space for extra practicality. The acid test for it though will be how customers respond to a body style that has been traditionally shunned by image-conscious Singaporeans. But Volkswagen is confident that the strength of its brand, coupled with the change in car-buying environment, will help endear the Golf Variant to a whole new set of customers. We shall eagerly await and see.

NEED TO KNOW
Engine 1,395cc, 16V, turbocharged in-line 4
Power 140bhp at 4500-6000rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1500-3500rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual clutch
Top Speed 213km/h
0-100kmh 8.9 seconds
Fuel efficiency 20.0 km/L
CO2 116g/km

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