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2010 Volkswagen Golf Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Volkswagen Golf was new.


Performance: 8.7

The Volkswagen Golf’s strong five-cylinder base engine, standard anti-lock brakes and traction control ensure added solidity that some other affordable small cars don't provide. But cost-conscious shoppers should note that the Golf's base engine compromises its fuel economy. A big plus for 2010 is the new diesel engine, which delivers nearly class-topping fuel economy.

  • "We sampled a variety of U.S.-spec 2010 Golfs on twisty two-lanes and high-speed autobahns in their home country of Germany and found its base McPherson strut front and independent four-link rear suspensions excellent, and the TDI models' somewhat stiffer sport suspension even better." -- AutoMedia.com
  • "When we encountered stretches of bumpy cobblestones in Dresden, even the sport suspension setup on the TDI proved to be well behaved and comfortable, which bodes well for some of the neglected roads the TDI will have to endure Stateside." -- Autoblog
  • “Equipped with the sports suspension the MK VI Golf is rock solid at speed, corners with a near complete absence of body roll, changes direction quickly and has very communicative steering for a front-wheel drive car. All that, but it still manages to absorb bumps and ruts like a luxury car." -- Jalopnik
  • "Both models feel comfortable and composed at all speeds, absorbing pavement imperfections well.” -- Consumer Guide

Acceleration and Power

The 2010 Golf is one of the most powerful subcompacts on the market. Test drivers love the pep and agility that its five-cylinder 170-horsepower base engine provides. But it almost goes without saying that the car's fuel economy takes a hit compared to other tiny economy cars.

VW has remedied that problem for 2010 with a new four-cylinder 140-horsepower diesel engine. Though it offers less horsepower, reviewers overwhelmingly prefer the TDI diesel because it provides more torque than the gasoline engine. Its fuel economy is also better.

According to the EPA, the TDI diesel achieves 30/41 mpg city/highway with the six-speed manual transmission and 30/42 mpg with the optional six-speed automatic. The base engine achieves only 22/30 mpg with the five-speed manual transmission and 23/30 mpg with the optional automatic.

  • "VW has done some welcome work with the gasoline five, which feels a little smoother than earlier editions and tows the Golf to speed a little quicker than the turbo-diesel, which needs 8.6 seconds to achieve 60 mph, according to the manufacturer." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 2.5 has enough pep for any situation; its transmission is smooth and responsive. The TDI pulls away strongly from a stop and makes short work of highway passing maneuvers; turbo lag is minimal. TDI's 6-speed automatic can be lurchy around town, but it smooths out at higher speeds and delivers power promptly.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Still, the Golf we'd choose would have to be the 2.0 TDI. You simply don't miss those 30 horses, especially when they've been replaced with an extra 59 lb-ft of torque. The car's a blast to drive, and the great fuel economy means you're as close to guilt-free as you can get behind the wheel." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Both engines offered more than adequate performance, but-because it is torque that gets you launched and accelerating from a stop-the amazingly quiet and civilized turbodiesel feels stronger most of the time.” -- AutoMedia.com

Handling and Braking

The 2010 VW Golf’s road composure is impressive. The car comes standard with advanced anti-lock brakes and traction control, plus an optional Electronic Stability Program. The new TDI diesel model comes with a sport suspension that reviewers love.

  • "The car remains generally comfortable on broken pavement, largely because of its capable suspension and excellent seat design, but don't expect the same isolation from buckled asphalt that some competitors offer." -- Edmunds
  • "Rough-road ride was comfortably compliant, the power 4-wheel disc brakes were strong and fade free, and the typically crisp electro-mechanical, variable-assist, quick-ratio power rack-and-pinion steering gave us spot-on feel, feedback and accuracy." -- AutoMedia.com
  • "The steering provided adequate feedback when we had the chance to dive-bomb a few corners, a when the occasional delivery van became a rolling roadblock in the left lane, the Golf's brakes -- while lacking in feel -- were up to the task, easily reigning in the party from 115 to 60 MPH." -- Autoblog
  • "All are sporty and agile with little body lean; TDI's sport suspension means even more nimble cornering ability. Braking is smooth and strong." -- Consumer Guide

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