The 2014 Volkswagen Golf and GTI continue to raise the bar for the compact-hatchback class. Along with a refined interior and European-inspired handling, the Golf/GTI offers a range of engines, including a 200-horsepower turbocharged unit and the only diesel engine available in the compact-car segment.
You'll Like The 2014 Volkswagen Golf If...
If you love to drive, but you can’t afford the price or cramped environment afforded by most performance cars, check out the 2014 VW Golf and GTI. The GTI is quick, spry and a blast to drive, while the Golf TDI delivers hybrid-level fuel economy without sacrificing performance.
You May Not Like The 2014 Volkswagen Golf If...
If the bottom line for you includes a really low bottom line, the Golf and GTI take a back seat to the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Kia Forte. Those who prefer a comfortable cruiser may find the GTI’s ride a bit too jarring.
Changes to the 2014 Volkswagen Golf and GTI are limited to two special-edition GTI trims: Wolfsburg and Driver’s Edition. The 2-door Golf/GTI body is dropped taking with it the option of a manual transmission on the base 2.5. The Golf R is also no more.
Volkswagen describes the 2014 Golf interior as one that continues to “set the quality benchmark in its class.” And we wouldn’t disagree, as the Golf employs a mixture of design and execution rarely found at window stickers fully twice that of the Golf. Throughout the interior, from seat choices to the dash and center stack, you’ll not be disappointed by the Golf’s visual and tactile performance. And its functional acumen is underscored by an info-centric dash, form-fitting bucket seats and high-lift tailgate. The GTI takes the interior one step further, with an ergonomic steering wheel, aggressive sport seats and more comprehensive instrumentation.
Visually the 2014 VW Golf and GTI don’t veer far from the boxy formula that has been their trademark since being introduced nearly 40 years ago. The crisp, shark crease running the length of the Golf adds, we’re told, “visual movement” to the car, while its sweptback headlights heighten the Golf’s athletic look. On the Golf TDI Clean Diesel with the Tech Package are LED daytime running lights that sit along the sides and base of the headlights. The 2014 Golf is an evolution of a design that worked from the git-go, and continues to work because its design team refuses to dramatically alter its innate goodness.
As the 2014 Volkswagen Golf shares the same basic platform and suspension components as the sportier GTI, the little compact enjoys a level of handling and stability not found in most entry-level compacts. With direct steering, a smooth but firm ride and a cabin isolated from road and wind noise, the Golf feels much more upscale than its $20,000 starting price might suggest. The 2.5-liter base engine won’t blow your socks off with its performance, but it gets the job done. The real star of the Golf line is the 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel that brings impressive fuel economy as well as ample low-end torque, making it nearly as quick as the GTI. Of course, the GTI is about more than power. Its stiff suspension loves to attack curves, and its snug sport seats are about the best we’ve tested, better in fact than many sport seats in cars costing twice as much.
The 2014 Volkswagen Golf 2.5L 4-door enjoys a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $21,000, while the Golf TDI starts significantly higher at around $26,000. The GTI is priced between roughly $26,000 and $34,000, depending on the number of factory options. For an indicator of prices being paid in your market area, be sure to consult Kelley Blue Book’s Fair Purchase Price. Resale of the Golf has historically fallen slightly short of Japanese competitors while proving better than those offerings from Korea. The TDI, however, has proven to be the gold standard in the compact category, especially when fuel prices are volatile.
Standard equipment on the 2014 VW Golf includes an automatic transmission, tilt-and-telescopic steering column, power windows with automatic up/down, air conditioning, split-folding rear seat with armrest and pass-through, cruise control, 8-speaker radio with single CD, and heated outside mirrors. Adding the Convenience Group ups the ante with heated front seats and Bluetooth technology. Convenience-and-Sunroof goes beyond the addition of the sunroof with Premium VIII touch-screen radio, Sirius satellite radio and an MDI with an iPod cable. The GTI receives unique fascias and badging, along with a stance – via more aggressive rubber – that conveys both higher ambition and capabilities.
Most notable among choices in the VW showroom is the 2.0-liter TDI diesel. Car companies with operations in the U.S. have been uniformly slow in adapting diesel’s benefits – abundant torque and high efficiency – to U.S.-based (or bound) platforms. VW and Mercedes continue to show the way, and the benefits of the diesel in a Golf-sized package are many. Beyond the diesel, we’d cite the Golf’s excellent navigation radio and the available DSG gearbox (optional on diesel-equipped Golfs), whose efficiency and immediacy are a perfect complement to the diesel’s 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque.
TDI DIESEL ENGINE
Hybrid powertrains are not the only option for those seeking 40-plus mpg. The 2014 VW Golf TDI is equally efficient, delivers impressive power and can be had with a manual transmission. The clean diesel engine also puts out about 30-percent less greenhouse emissions than a traditional gasoline engine.
GTI SPORT SEAT
If you love to be hugged snuggly in the turns, there are no better seats for the job than those found in the GTI. Opt for the upgraded leather and you’ll get power 4-way lumbar support.
Under the Hood
Although the Golf’s base 5-cylinder powerplant doesn’t receive a huge amount of love from VW’s enthusiast base, it’s proven to be eminently sensible for the cut-and-thrust of daily driving, offering reasonable horsepower, smoothness and efficiency; its most damning descriptive is that it’s simply not much fun. That can’t be said for the 2.0 TDI, offering abundant torque, awesome efficiency and a driving experience as visceral as VW. Given the diesel’s $5K premium, however, you should weigh your driving needs, and costs, carefully. You’ll need to drive a significant amount in a diesel to recover its higher initial purchase price. Performance enthusiasts can enjoy the GTI’s warmed-up 2.0-liter turbo-4 offering 200 horsepower.
170 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
177 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/30 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
140 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-2,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 30/42 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm
207 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 mpg (manual), 24/32 mpg (automatic)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that this vehicle's diesel engine is involved in a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act issued by the EPA to Volkswagen for producing and selling 4-cylinder diesel cars that include a software device that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) determined that these diesel cars emit up to 40 times more pollution than emission standards allow. Recalls, investigations and litigation are currently ongoing.
2014 marks the final year for this long-running version of the Golf/GTI; an all-new model is slated to arrive late next year. However, even at the end of its model run, the 2014 VW Golf and GTI remain impressive vehicles. Available only as a 4-door hatchback, the Golf is no longer as body-style diverse as the Hyundai Elantra. However, the Koreans still haven’t been able to match the interior materials and feel of the German compacts, especially in the area of seat comfort. Enthusiasts will love the refined power found in the GTI, while those more concerned with a smooth ride and good fuel economy can opt for the diesel-powered Golf TDI.