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2012 Volkswagen Golf review

The Volkswagen Golf remains the hatchback of choice for buyers demanding German engineering coupled with benchmark levels of quality, safety, style and refinement.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo2012 Volkswagen Golf photo
With global sales now topping 27 million, the Golf continues to be Volkswagen's most successful model ever—and in the U.S., the Golf continues to win over consumers, with sales increasing by 23.3 percent, year-to-date.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo2012 Volkswagen Golf photo
For 2012, Golf continues to be offered in both two and four-door models with a choice of 2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder gasoline engine or the 2.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel that offers an EPA fuel economy rating of 42 mpg on the highway.
The strong tradition of affordable pricing coupled with high levels of standard equipment also continues. The 2012 Golf two-door with smooth-shifting manual transmission starts at just $17,995.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo -2012 Volkswagen Golf photo -
New for 2012
For the 2012 model year, option packages along with stand-alone options have been re-thought and simplified. Now, the 2.5-liter and TDI Clean Diesel models are available in three well-equipped trim levels.
For the 2.5-liter, the new line-up runs 2.5-liter Golf, 2.5-liter Golf with Convenience, and 2.5-liter Golf with Convenience and Sunroof.
The Convenience package includes features such as voice-controlled Bluetooth® technology and Cold weather equipment (heated front seats and front washer nozzles). Convenience with Sunroof adds a power/tilting and sliding sunroof, Mobile Device Interface (MDI) with iPod® cable, and Premium VIII audio.
The 2012 Golf TDI Clean Diesel model range now features Golf TDI, Golf TDI with Sunroof and Navigation, and Golf TDI with Tech Package. Even the entry Golf TDI comes equipped with Bluetooth®, Cold Weather package, Premium VIII audio and new-for-2102 10-spoke 17-inch Salamanca aluminum-alloy wheels.
Features of the Tech Package include Bi-Xenon high-intensity headlights with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS). Part of the package that is new-for-2012 includes LED daylight-running lights, as well as a Dynaudio® premium sound system and keyless entry with push-button start.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo2012 Volkswagen Golf photo
This sixth-generation Golf evolves the clean-cut design language of its successors to deliver one of the most recognizable shapes in the automotive world. Its simple, minimalistic lines are in stark contrast to many of its over-stylized rivals.
The front-end design uses strong horizontal lines such as the wide, double-bar grille and front bumper air dam vanes-to visually lower and widen the car's stance. The swept-back headlight design heightens the athletic look of the car. The headlights themselves are beautifully crafted: new for 2012 on the Golf TDI Clean Diesel with Tech Package are dramatic, bright-white LED daytime running lights that run along the sides and base of the headlamp units.
In profile, a crisp, sharp crease runs the entire length of the Golf adding visual movement to the car, while pronounced wheelarches add visual muscle. Black window trim and the absence of side moldings are in keeping with this clean-cut look. To ensure the driver has exceptional all-round visibility for added safety, the Golf boasts slender roof pillars along with a large tailgate glass. Mounted at the top of the hatch, visually extending the roofline, is a neat rear spoiler that houses a center high mounted stop lamp (CHMSL).
Distinctive rear taillights feature four individual lenses intersected by a clear panel for the turn signals and back-up lights. Running reflectors are blended into the lower rear bumper which features a blacked-out insert and a cutout for a pair of exhaust tips. Mounted between those rear lights is the trademark Volkswagen badge—only this one has a trick up its sleeve. Push the top portion of the badge and the bottom tilts upwards to release the tailgate.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo2012 Volkswagen Golf photo
One of the hallmarks of the 2012 Golf is its exceptionally well-crafted interior that continues to set the quality benchmark in its class. Even the entry-level models feature the kind of materials, fit and finish, and outstanding attention to detail normally reserved for much higher-priced luxury vehicles. Simply releasing the soft-opening, silicone-dampened glovebox allows you to experience just one example of this remarkable attention to detail.
Throughout the cabin, high quality, soft-touch plastics are integrated with tasteful, brushed metallic trim and chrome highlights. Brushed metallic trim inserts are standard on the dash and in the door panels of all Golf models, and accent the Golf's instrument panel and center console.
To match the Golf's long-standing reputation as an involving, fun-to-drive compact car, the interior features front seats with body-hugging side bolsters for added support, plus an array of adjustments. All two-door models start out with eight-way manual adjustment, together with two-way adjustable lumbar support, and adjustment for height. Four-door models have power recline. And to ensure the perfect driving position, the thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel is adjustable for height and reach. For TDI Clean Diesel models, the wheel itself is leather-wrapped and features multifunction controls.
The 2012 Golf also boasts true flexibility and carry-all versatility that only a hatchback design can offer. Raise that high-lifting tailgate, flip forward the 60/40 split-folding rear seat—it comes with a pass-through on TDI models—and the Golf can swallow an impressive 46 cubic feet of luggage. Keep the rear seats in place and there's still space for 15.2 cubic feet of cargo. Standard on all Golf models are a luggage compartment cover, full carpeting/lining in the trunk and luggage area illumination.
Where the Golf also sets exceptionally high standards is in interior refinement. In creating this sixth-generation model, Volkswagen engineers made real advances in reducing noise levels. A highly effective noise-damping intermediate layer is used in the windshield, and sound-deadening technologies and materials are incorporated around the mounting points for the body panels, engine firewall, foot pedals, center tunnel, and around the air conditioning and heating system. The result is the quietest Golf ever.
Music is key to all Golf owners, so even the base Golf 2.5L features an eight-speaker AM/FM radio with single-disc CD player, MP3 readability, and an auxiliary input jack for connecting portable media players. All Golf TDI Clean Diesel models come standard with Premium VIII sound that includes a sleek, user-friendly touchscreen, eight speakers and AM/FM/SiriusXM™ Satellite Radio, plus in-dash six-disc CD changer along with an SD Card slot, and an MDI with iPod® cable. For audiophiles, the crystal clear 300-watt Dynaudio® premium sound system is available on the TDI with Tech Package.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo2012 Volkswagen Golf photo
Engines and Transmissions
The 2012 Golf is offered with the choice of two technically-advanced engines. Buyers can choose either the 2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder gasoline engine, or the 50-state compliant 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel.
The 2.5L inline five-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. It features an aluminum-alloy crossflow cylinder head with four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts, maintenance-free hydraulic lifters, and sequential multi-port fuel injection.
A five-speed manual transmission comes standard on the Golf 2.5L two-door, while a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic® and Sport mode is standard on the four-door. Tiptronic allows a driver to shift manually with an up or down push of the gear selector.
The 2.5-liter engine with the five-speed manual returns 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, based on EPA estimates. The Golf 2.5-liter four-door with the standard six-speed automatic has a EPA fuel economy estimates of 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.
Volkswagen's highly efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder TDI Clean Diesel produces 140 horsepower and an impressive 236 lb-ft of torque delivered between 1750 and 2500 rpm. This state-of-the-art diesel features an advanced common-rail direct-injection fuel system. The valvetrain consists of double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and maintenance-free hydraulic lifters.
Standard on the Golf TDI Clean Diesel is a smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission. The TDI is also available with the highly acclaimed six-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport mode—providing drivers with the performance of the manual gearbox with the effortless precision of an automatic. Both models deliver an EPA-estimated 30 mpg in city travel and an impressive 42 mpg on the highway, with a single tank range of more than 600 miles.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo2012 Volkswagen Golf photo
Responsive, driver-focused handling is the hallmark of every Volkswagen Golf. And much of this is down to the car's German-engineered suspension which provides exceptional balance and fun-to-drive agility. All Golf models feature proven strut-type front suspension with coil springs, a lower control arm, and an anti-roll bar. At the rear there is a fully-independent multilink arrangement with coil springs, telescopic dampers, and an anti-roll bar.
Steering is enhanced with an electro-mechanical, variably assisted, power rack-and-pinion system. It's able to vary the feel of the steering wheel to suit the speed and driving situation; firm and direct when driving hard, lighter and less sensitive at parking speeds.
Bringing the Golf to a halt is a sophisticated braking system that incorporates power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes, with vented 11.3-inch-diameter discs at the front and 10.7-inch solid discs at the rear. Anti-lock braking (ABS) is standard together with electronic brake pressure distribution.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo2012 Volkswagen Golf photo
Safety and Security
As with all Volkswagen models, the starting point for ensuring the safety of those inside is with an extremely strong and rigid body structure. Key body components are made using ultra-high-strength steel and joined with seamless laser welds instead of spot welds.
In a collision, occupants are protected by six airbags (dual front, side, and side curtain airbags). In addition, every Golf offers front safety belt pretensioners with load limiters and three-point safety belts in all five seating positions (two front, three rear), with emergency locking retractors.
In addition to these, the 2012 Golf comes with Electronic Stability Control (ESC) as standard equipment. This key safety feature detects any loss of control and automatically brakes individual front or rear wheels and reduces engine power as needed to help maintain directional control.
The Golf also comes with Volkswagen's Intelligent Crash Response System. In certain types of collision, the fuel pump is shut off instantaneously, the doors are unlocked, and the hazard lights switched on.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo2012 Volkswagen Golf photo
Model Line-up
For the 2012 model year, option packages along with stand-alone options have been re-thought and simplified.
With a starting price of $17,995 for the two-door with five-speed manual transmission, and $19,795 for the four-door version, the 2.5L represents impressive value. Its standard features include 15-inch wheels with wheel covers; rear window wiper & washer system; body-colored exterior mirrors, moldings, door handles, and bumpers; daytime running lights; tilt and telescopic steering column; power windows with auto up/down; cruise control; adjustable intermittent front windshield wipers; compass; trip computer; air conditioning; cloth seating surfaces; two-way manual lumbar support; split folding rear seat with armrest and pass-through; RCD310 radio with single CD, eight speakers, and Aux-In; dual front airbags, front side airbags with side curtains; and dual polished exhaust tips.
Priced from $18,595 for the two-door and $20,395 for the four-door, the package adds a front center armrest, heatable front seats and Bluetooth® technology.
Priced from $20,395 for the two-door, and $22,195 for the four-door, this adds: a sunroof with power tilt and sliding; Premium VIII touchscreen radio with six-CD in-dash changer; Sirius® Satellite Radio, with limited time subscription; and an MDI with an iPod® cable.
2.0L GOLF TDI Clean Diesel
With a starting MSRP of $23,995 for the two-door, and $24,695 for the four-door, the Golf TDI is equipped as standard with the 2.0-liter TDI Clean Diesel engine; 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; heated front washer nozzles; front center armrest; leather-wrapped, multifunction steering wheel (manual shift paddles for DSG®); footwell lighting; heatable front seats; Premium VIII touchscreen radio with six-CD in-dash changer; SiriusXM Satellite Radio; MDI with iPod cable and Bluetooth.
Priced from $25,695 for the two-door, and $26,395 for the four-door, this package features a sunroof with power tilt and slide and an RNS315 radio navigation system.
2012 Volkswagen Golf photo2012 Volkswagen Golf photo
Priced at $27,365 for the two-door, and $28,065 for the four-door, this adds: Bi-Xenon headlamps with AFS: Dynaudio premium sound system; LED DRLs; and keyless access with push-button start.


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