2012 Volkswagen Golf Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Automated Manual
  • Horse Power 140 hp @ 4000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 30/42 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Volkswagen Golf

  • It may cost more than comparatively equipped rivals, but the 2012 VW Golf sweats the details and provides a level of refinement that few can possibly match.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Outstanding cabin materials and construction; fuel-efficient diesel engine; spacious hatchback body style; refined driving dynamics.

  • Cons

    Unrefined and inefficient gasoline engine; higher price than many rivals.

  • What's New for 2012

    Beyond adjustments to its trim and options structure, the 2012 Volkswagen Golf is unchanged. Notably, however, one of those adjustments is the deletion of optional rear side airbags.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (35 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

One of the best

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Golf

Sold the lexus, kept the golf. Smoother, better on bumps, much better on highway, handling is vastly superior, reliability is equal or better (that's been our experience). Es 350 is slightly quieter, but the handling and ride are demonstrably inferior.




Big disappointment

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Golf

This car was underwhelming. Coming from a 200 HP Saab, I did not mind the weak engine except the manual transmission would fight any attempt to downshift quickly. The heater/AC moved so little air that you were either cold/hot or had to listen to the fan drone away on high. The steering feel was nonexistent. You could not feel the front end break loose on snow. The final straw was a fuel cut off that caused it to die in traffic if short shifted. It was fun to make fun of the driver who stalled in traffic until we were hit from behind because the car would just stop without brake lights. There was no warning. You would be driving in slowing traffic and it would stop.



2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Best bang for your buck

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Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Golf

I've driven 8 beaters in my life (trucks and cars) then a 2008 BMW 335i and then this Golf 2.5 gas, manual, 3DR hatch and this car is a solid 4.5/5. I dont write reviews but this car is so good I had to. I've owned for 2 years and it has 40k miles on it. The engine, interior, and styling make this car. Gas mileage is incredible even above sticker, I consistently get 31 mpg mixed use and I drive it hard. This car is a great value cause the comparable honda or subaru is $3-5k more. You may have costly repairs or quirky electronic issues at the 8 year/100k mark but you saved that money in the front end.




Fun for a while...

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Golf

Fun with utility thanks to its hatchback nature, but it does fall short in a few ways that may be a deal breaker for some. Road noise - It may be the result of being a small hatch' or the fact that there seems to be no sound insulation, but the interior of this car is loud. When I say loud, I mean very loud. Driving over concrete or rough pavement will make you plead for mercy. Quality: The soft materials are nice but the construction is lacking. Interior rattles abundant, loud engine noises, suspension squeaks and creaks, thin paint (chips constantly). Comfort: Nice sport seats but uncomfortable on long drives. Deal Breaker: 25mpg (hwy+city) in a small car (VW can do better).



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Big car in little car

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Golf

Our family was looking to add a 3rd car(teenage driver) and we wanted an economical and versatile small car. After searching all over we discovered VW through consumer reports and a great, patient salesman. I am a big man(6'4") and the Golf appears to be the smallest car we drove but it is a magic car, more interior room than it appears. Our family of 4 fits comfortably, even with the dog. Completed a 6 hour road trip with minimal complaining from the family. It is great fun to drive. Great handling with great power on the highway. In fact it is the highway/autobahn driving that separates this car from others in the size class.



4 of 4 people found this review helpful

Love the mileage

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Volkswagen Golf

Had a problem the first week with a sensor that required a tow to the dealer to have replaced, ("never saw anything like this before") and a recall to replace a minor part a few weeks ago. Thus the 4 vs 5 for depedability. Otherwise, this has been a wonderful car. Bought it with gas mileage in mind, and get 38 around town, 48 - 52 on the highway, depending on how far I drive. I'm a conservative driver. When needed, it has plenty of power. Fits both me (5'10") and my 6'2" husband comfortably. Only thing I'd do differently is get a 4 door. So much easier for passengers.



Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 30
  • cty
/
  • 42
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Volkswagen Golf Review

What's New for 2012

Beyond adjustments to its trim and options structure, the 2012 Volkswagen Golf is unchanged. Notably, however, one of those adjustments is the deletion of optional rear side airbags.

Introduction

Pound for pound, feature for feature, the 2012 Volkswagen Golf costs more than other compact cars. It would be easy to leave things there, damning the Golf with a case consisting merely of dollar signs and a spreadsheet of standard features. Indeed, it's a case that stripped VW's recently redesigned Jetta of myriad niceties and details that used to make it a step above the rest. Well, the Golf retains those niceties and details, maintaining its position as a special car for those who recognize a higher-quality product when they see it, feel it and drive it. And who also don't mind paying a little extra for it.

Indeed, compared to other vehicles in its class, the 2012 VW Golf feels positively upscale. Its interior puts others to shame (including the Jetta) thanks to top-notch materials, meticulous construction and going-the-extra-mile niceties like rear seat air vents and a tilt-and-telescoping front armrest. With optional features like heated seats, a Dynaudio stereo and a navigation system, the Golf can actually begin to feel like a near luxury car. Really, only the new Ford Focus (http://www.edmunds.com/ford/focus/2012/?sub=hatchback) comes close in this regard.

Once underway, the Golf continues to set itself apart with the sort of refinement German cars are renowned for. Handling is secure and the ride is at once comfortable and composed. The Golf's Achilles' heel, however, is its five-cylinder base engine that returns fuel economy that's upwards of 10 mpg worse on the highway than some competitors. Sure, they're less powerful, but we're betting most buyers would be willing to sacrifice some acceleration to save money at the pump. Luckily, the turbodiesel TDI meets or beats those lofty rival fuel economy figures and is certainly the more appealing Golf. However, it's even more expensive.

Overall, though, we think very highly of the 2012 VW Golf and find that its added cost in TDI guise is justified by its impressive fuel mileage, added refinement and details that won't show up if you simply compare the features of one car to another. We would make the same argument about the Focus, however, and it doesn't require pricier diesel fuel. However, the reality is that both of those compact cars may be too expensive for your budget, so it's definitely worth considering the Mazda 3 as well as the Kia Forte hatchback. They'll offer you more stuff for your money, but the overall experience won't be quite as special.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Volkswagen Golf is a five-passenger hatchback available in two- and four-door body styles. Each is broken into 2.5L and TDI trim levels, which correspond to engine choice. The high-performance GTI is discussed in a separate review.

Standard equipment on the base 2.5L Golf includes 15-inch steel wheels, foglights, full power accessories, keyless entry, heated mirrors, cruise control, air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, front seat adjustable lumbar, cloth upholstery, a compass, a trip computer and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. The Convenience package adds heated front seats, a front center armrest and Bluetooth. The Convenience & Sunroof package adds those aforementioned items plus a sunroof, a six-CD changer, satellite radio, an iPod/USB audio interface and a touchscreen audio interface.

The Golf TDI includes all of the above equipment as standard, minus the sunroof. Also included are 17-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, a lower ride height, heated windshield washer nozzles, floor mats and a multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Sunroof & Navigation package adds the sunroof and a navigation system, but subtracts the compass and auxiliary audio jack. The Tech package includes the Sunroof & Navigation items, plus bi-xenon headlights and a premium Dynaudio sound system.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2012 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L is powered by a 2.5-liter five-cylinder (hence the trim name) that produces 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque. These Golf models are classified as partial-zero-emissions vehicles (PZEV) when sold in states with California emissions standards. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a six-speed automatic is optional. With the automatic, the Golf 2.5L achieves an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined. Sticking with the manual improves that to 23/31/26. But either way, that's worse fuel economy than the Golf's primary (though admittedly less powerful) competitors.

To get similar to better fuel economy than those competitors, we recommend the Golf TDI. It has a 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder that puts out a modest 140 hp, but a robust 236 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and a six-speed automated manual (DSG) is optional. In Edmunds performance testing, a Golf TDI with a manual went from zero to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds -- a quick time for this segment. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 30/41/34 with the manual, while the highway number ticks up to 42 with the DSG.

Safety

Every 2012 Volkswagen Golf comes standard with traction and stability control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, a Golf TDI came to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet -- a good distance for this segment.

In crash testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Golf received the highest score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

Simply replacing the VW logo on the Golf's steering wheel with four rings just might be enough to convince you that you're in an Audi. That's how nice the Golf's interior is. Among other compact hatchbacks, the Volkswagen's blend of top-shelf materials, refined design and quality workmanship place it above all others. The Golf's cabin is actually much nicer than that of the recently redesigned VW Jetta sedan.

Whether you choose the two- or four-door, the Golf's passenger space remains the same. For those who plan on shuttling multiple passengers, the four-door is the obvious choice, offering a surprisingly large backseat that's notably more spacious than that of a Mazda 3. Access to the two-door Golf's rear seats is made relatively painless thanks to front seats that slide easily out of the way. Behind the rear seats, the cargo area can hold up to 12.4 cubic feet of stuff -- double the capacity of a Mini Cooper, but about average for other hatchbacks. Dropping the split-folding rear seats bumps that figure up to 46 cubes.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Volkswagen Golf's high level of interior refinement is echoed in its composed, solid feel on the road. At highway speeds, the Golf is significantly quieter than other hatchbacks. Alternately, you can take it out on a curvy road and the well-weighted steering will inspire confidence.

The Golf's gasoline engine provides strong power throughout the rev range, but it sounds unrefined and we're betting most buyers would sacrifice some of that muscle for better fuel economy. Opting for the turbodiesel will get you that higher fuel economy along with an abundance of low-end torque. The downsides are the extra noise and a higher price, but in general, the Golf TDI is the more appealing model.

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