2012 Volkswagen Golf Hatchback Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Volkswagen Golf Hatchback

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Volkswagen Golf Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.0 L Inline 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed 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.

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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What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



Great car...but it's like an

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

I was torn between a Golf and the Ford Focus. Ultimately, the interior detail and materials sold me on the Golf. It looks like an Audi on the inside (especially at night!). My cloth seats are comfortable and ergonomically correct. I can fit 4 adults in the car without it feeling cramped. Currently getting approx 315 miles per tank. It's really a quality vehicle. The only downside is that my service light has come twice in the past year that I've owned it. The computer on the vehicle needed an update. Although the updates are free at VW, its time consuming and annoying. Service guy told me its like owning an iphone and there's no warning when you might get the light.



7 of 7 people found this review helpful

4 door golf

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L 4dr Hatchback w/Convenience (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

I've owned this car for just a couple weeks, but I can already tell this is the great car I hoped it would be. It doesn't come with the most features, it doesn't get the best gas mileage, and it doesn't have the most back seat room. But if you want a car that makes you say "Ahhhhhh" every time you get in and can't spend $35k, get a Golf. Think of it like the iPhone of the car world: the best designed, most well executed, solid-feeling car you can buy for the money. Drive this, then drive something else - you'll be frustrated. The engine is smooth and surprisingly powerful. The transmission is good, but regular mode is a bit economy minded - Sport mode is where I leave it most of the time.



6 of 6 people found this review helpful

I love my car!

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Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L PZEV 2dr Hatchback w/Convenience, Sunroof (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

I spent six months researching cars before subscribing to Consumer's. They had listed the Golf as the number 1 hatchback. I had looked at one before, but someone had told me they heard from a friend that they weren't really good cars, so I stopped considering them. But I decided to get a quote to see what I could buy one for. I was really impressed with the price quote (less than invoice) so I went to test drive. It drove like a dream and had everything I was looking for in a car. I even got 1.84% for five years. In the end it was a no-brainer: great car for a great price. I've only had it five weeks, but I love it so far.



21 of 21 people found this review helpful

Happy so far

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L 2dr Hatchback (2.5L 5cyl 5M)

This is my first VW and the 2012 Golf is impressive. The car is very comfortable and handles well. On it's first long trip, I averaged 33 mpg of mostly highway miles.



18 of 18 people found this review helpful

Great car to drive

by on
Vehicle: 2012 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L 4dr Hatchback w/Convenience, Sunroof (2.5L 5cyl 6A)

I got the 4 door hatchback with the base 2.5 engine. Like most VWs this is a driver's car. It's still built in Germany. Great feel on the road, very comfortable seats and a sophisticated feeling suspension. Very little road/wind noise. I have been getting around 27 mpg with mostly hwy driving. This powertrain has enough pep for my needs while still using regular gas. There's lots of room with the seats folded down. VW still has great lease rates if you can negotiate.



Talk About The 2012 Golf

Read more about the 2012 Volkswagen Golf

Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

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

Identifix Reliability Ratings

Rating unavailable for this vehicle

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