A little more R - Volkswagen Golf Variant
Text and Photos by Derryn Wong, CarBuyer.
Volkswagen's Mark 7 Golf was, at its launch in 2014, generally acknowledged as the class-leader in the European small hatch segment. Lighter, more efficient and better built, it offered the best blend of qualities that segment buyers were looking for, including brand recognition.
Fast forward to 2016 and a drop in Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices has meant that the Golf, now more than $20,000 cheaper than it was at launch, is if anything more attractive than ever. But a bit of breathing room in terms of price has let a new choice enter the market - the Golf Variant.
'Variant' is VW's nomenclature for station wagon, and the wagon-ed Golf hits the Singaporean stage with its bigger brother, the Passat Variant (see our drive feature this issue).
VW knows not everyone loves wagons, at least not on the level of the Germans or Italians, so it's made the Golf Variant a bit special - the only model sold here is the 1.4 with a slightly more powerful 125bhp engine and R-Design trim.
R-Design touches account for the more aggressive looking front end, body kit, spoiler and 17-inch wheels. That's more than enough to make the Variant look different from your regular, garden variety Golfs (i.e. the less expensive 105bhp 1.2 and the 122bhp 1.4), while uninformed viewers might mistake it as a proper R variant even.
Still, those with an eye for the unique will appreciate how the R-Design trim sets off the longer, more flowing lines of the wagon.
As a wagon, it's 307mm longer overall, all of it boot, so the wheelbase remains the same. Boot capacity is boosted by 225-litres with all the seats up - the standard hatch has 308-litres - and there's always the trick of folding down the rear seats for a very large 1,620-litres of space in total.
Practical touches include seat release levers at the rear, variable loading floor and stowable tonneau cover. If you're planning on moving stuff with this Variant, it's best to pack a trolley too as the front passenger backrest can fold flat to accommodate long objects too.
From behind the wheel, the styling reflects the drive: You certainly don't get the feeling of a pendulous extra 40kg being strapped to the Golf's rear end. On paper the Variant's marginally less quick and efficient than the hatch, but it's a small enough difference that this won't matter to most.
The drivetrain is typical VW - enough grunt to get ahead in the city but also smooth when it needs to be, plus you can select drive modes, including Eco mode that switches on the coasting function for even better mileage.
As an R-Line car, like the CC R-Line for example, the Variant comes with a lot of equipment to sweeten the deal. There's a panoramic sunroof, leather seats, keyless entry/start, automatic parking, the Discover Pro infotainment system with navigation and Bluetooth (plus CarPlay connectivity), xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights.
All in all, it's an attractive package - useful, stylish and with a long list of features.
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