2010 Volkswagen Golf Review – Utility and performance fitted into an economical package

Expert Reviews Volkswagen

2010 VW Golf
By Francis Cebedo


  • The base model is very satisfying
  • Exterior design is clean and attractive
  • Interior is excellent
  • Comes in 3-door and 5-door
  • Model selection is very broad with Diesel, GTI and high performance models coming
  • Fun to drive rating is off the charts for a base model aka practical car
  • Construction and feel is very solid
  • 5-cylinder engine is quite powerful with a very usable torque curve
  • Chassis handles nicely and feels like it can handle a lot more


  • Could use a center arm rest with storage
  • No interior options like leather are available
  • Radio has mediocre sound, poor FM reception and no steering wheel controls
  • Can’t get it as cheap as the competition

I’m a hatchback guy. I loved the VW Rabbit as I was growing up and I bought a Honda Civic hatchback as soon as I was able. Now I drive a modified Mini Cooper. I love the sportiness and utility of these cars. And to top it off, I just like the way they look.

Such is the market for the 2010 Volkswagen Golf. And unlike most cars where I pursue the sportiest, most powerful versions of the car, I was at peace testing the base model of the 2010 Golf. This model runs $17,600 with a 2.5L 5-cylinder motor mated to a 5-speed manual. That in itself is quite a surprise since it is a big motor for a base model and not the most frugal at 22/30 mpg city and highway. But the 170 hp and 177 ft/lbs torque should be interesting.

2010 VW Golf

Ahhh, performance for a budget car is usually a very short section. But this is where the 2010 Golf shines. The chassis is solid and the suspension is taut and responsive. Couple that with a capable base model engine and this car is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. The highlight is the 5-cylinder engine that puts out 177 ft/lbs of torque. It pulls this car around town, around turns and on the highway. Get it on a twisty mountain road and it really responds.

Oftentimes you have to keep reminding yourself that is this a base model more of a practical car. No smiling allowed! Well that’s not how VW likes to treat their numerous, perhaps first-time VW brand customers. They delivered a car that is fun to drive as it accelerates and handles like a sporty car. 0-60 acceleration of 8.0 seconds is very respectable for a car in this category. And since this engine has a lot of torque and grunt, it feels faster than that.

The chassis feels like it can handle more than what the economy-tuned powerplant can churn out because it can. Unlike other small cars, the Golf is a platform that needs to be able to handle the weight and torque of a diesel version. In addition, the GTI and the R32 monster powerplants and suspensions are destined for this chassis. And as you drive this car and carve mountain turns, it feels confident that it can handle more power and more speed.

Construction-wise, this car feels more like a BMW 3-series than it does a Toyota Yaris. The Golf feels overbuilt and solid. We’ll repeat our theory that this chassis is built for so much more. On the higher-end models that are about to come, it will probably cost $40,000. So the build of this car feels much better than the hatchback competition.

2010 VW Golf

This is the best looking VW Golf ever. The exterior and interior styling have been vastly redesigned as well. The body is gorgeous (if you’re a hatchback person). The proportions and lines are just right and all the chrome trim has been blackened out. The rear angled tail lights have been simplified and straightened to improve the rear of the car significantly. The beveling and contouring of the body panels are subtle but effective. And the front of the car is attractive and neutral unlike the ‘smiling’ Mazda 3. This is easily the best looking Golf in an attractive lineage.

The beveled body panels and recessed cavities all work together to form a clean and unified look. The black body trim is reserved and does not call attention to itself. And the rear and front lights work really well with this car.

How does a $17,600 economy hatchback deliver good value? It is more expensive than the competition as the Honda Fit starts out at $14,900 and the the Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa are even cheaper.

But this starts out at a good price and ends at a good price without the need for all kinds of options and upgrades to make it a decent daily driver. And most important, it is a solid and very fun to drive car. So it gets our highest recommendation for delivering excellent automotive value for the money.

2010 Volkswagen Golf interior

This car is an evolution of a hatchback species from a company that understands hatchbacks. It is not merely the ‘5-door’ version of a sedan. Rather it is car and platform that delivers a lot and can handle so much more. The 2010 VW Golf is solid, fast, safe and FUN!

RATING 5.0 4.75 4.75 4.75 4.75 5.0 4.8/A-

2010 VW Golf Photo Gallery

2010 VW Golf specs

2010 VW Golf Specs

VW of AmericaOfficial website for Volkswagen of America – www.vw.com

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  • Steve says:

    I just drove a 3-door Golf manual, I’m comparing cars to buy for myself. First, the Golf in no way competes with the Fit. I drove that car and really WANTED to like the Fit. The packaging is amazing for such a small car, but the Fit is a city car and feels really maxed out at even 65 mph on the freeway. The Golf is a better competitor for the Civic LX which is more similar in size, equipment, and power. MSRPs are within spitting distance as well.

    The Golf was impressive for its build quality and I love that the standard seats are so sporty and comfortable. However, I found the engine pretty lifeless… it indeed is powerful enough but it just moans… no joyous engine sounds like a Civic. Also, the standard stereo sounds promising on paper (8 speakers!), but I haven’t heard a radio this bad since GM/Delco units from the 1980s. Seriously, I’m no audio nut but I’m seriously considering another car for this reason alone. The TDI comes with a much improved stereo but it’s not available as an option on the Golf 2.5. The base radio can barely make NPR listenable at 65 mph. Did they put the eight speakers under the seats or something?

    On a positive note, the back seats are surprisingly roomy and comfortable. The storage under the hatch is huge, and while fuel economy is nothing spectacular, it is improved for 2010.

    Oh, and one real gripe… why no manual transmission option in a 4-door Golf?

    • Derek says:

      If the cheap factory stereo in the Golf was the only issue, than I would suggest getting the Golf and just replace the stereo with an aftermarket setup. If you really want something with a manual gearbox and a more lively engine, than maybe the Golf isn’t the right fit for you. But don’t let the weak stereo sway your decision because that is something easily rectified. Engines and transmissions are not.

  • francois says:

    I drove the GTI version for the last week. What a delight of a car. Same platform but more of everything.

    Next up is the TDI which I actually want to buy and own! It has the same suspension and seats as the GTI but 40 mpg diesel!

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