It’s finally here. Two Geneva shows ago, VW first revealed the Golf SportWagen. That summer, we ran our first-drive report on the European model and started counting the days until we could get one here. Well, this much-anticipated Jetta SportWagen replacement arrives in U.S. dealerships by early April. As with the 10Best-winning Golf hatchback and GTI, the long delay was due to the wait for assembly of the North American–market model at VW’s plant in Puebla, Mexico. Our first drive in these Mexican-built wagons confirms that they’re as solid and enjoyable as any other seventh-generation Golf.
While VW’s ambitious U.S. sales targets would have a better chance of reaching fruition if Wolfsburg would send us new models as soon as they’re available in Germany, lower costs for assembly and transportation pay off in an aggressive pricing scheme for the new wagon. Despite arriving so late in the year, these SportWagens are 2015 models for a few months. The 2016 models will likely bring the addition of an all-wheel-drive version (officially: “We’re working on it”) and will definitely incorporate upgraded telematics and a built-in USB port that the 2015 edition still lacks.
VW gave us a chance to drive the U.S.-spec SportWagens in and around Austin, Texas, just as the big crowds for the SXSW confab were coming into town and clogging the major highway arteries. Fortunately, we were able to get out into the surrounding Hill Country.
Even without all-wheel drive in the mix yet, there are six SportWagen models, counting S, SE, and SEL trims available with either the 1.8-liter TSI four-cylinder gasoline engine or the 2.0-liter TDI diesel. Add the three transmissions and there are 10 configurations before you even start scanning the options list. With limited time and miles at our disposal, we opted to sample the price-leader gasoline model and a loaded-up SEL with the diesel. As with other Golfs, the TSI comes with a manual transmission only in the base S model, and that’s a five-speed unit. This runt of the litter must also endure a restriction on peak torque to 184 lb-ft versus the 199 claimed for its brethren equipped with a slushbox. All SE and SEL gasoline-burners have the six-speed automatic as standard. A six-speed stick shift is standard with every TDI. Clutchless operation costs an additional $1100 where it’s available, whether it’s the torque-converter automatic on the 1.8T or the dual-clutch DSG on diesels. Complete review on www.caranddriver.com, by Manufacturer