WHILE the SUV has taken a sizeable hold of the car industry’s offerings, those who find them big and bulky should look towards the estates for a sleeker option.
Depending on the make, they can be called shooting brake, avante, or station wagon. But they mean the same thing. Work horses that have evolved and cross-bred from beasts of burden to horses for courses.
The result is functionality in a neater form factor, as compared with the SUV.
Volkswagen has long been known for its nippy Golf model. The stretched out version, the Variant, continues with that sense of driveability but in a more practical package.
Its profile presents a smooth arc that belies its functionality. A sweeping curve, from the R-Line Variant’s honeycomb bumper to the sloping edge of a boot lid that opens up to access a large and useful space.
Sitting lower to the ground than an SUV, the Variant has Golf’s sense of desire to entertain as much as it is able to deliver the goods in other areas.
The turbocharged 1.4L engine delivers a responsive ride, even if it’s not rapid; taking a leisurely sub-10 seconds to get from 0 to 100kmh. Handling is reasonably sharp and the size of the car doesn’t have an adverse effect on how it negotiates.
In the cabin, the Variant delivers on the new direction in car interiors. Screens that do away with buttons allow for greater personalisation, while imitating the device-centric behaviour that most societies in the world are displaying.
And to reinforce this, there is the Volkswagen Media Control app on your smart device that allows everyone on board to have a go at the infotainment system. This could be like the old days when there was a battle for radio knob supremacy, except now it’s done in silence via your smart device. The quickest thumbs win!
For the driver, this means there are more things to set in place before heading off since there are no physical buttons to instinctively reach for while on the move.
But it’s odd that while the start/stop button on the centre console was shifted to be nearer the driver, none of the other buttons were treated similarly. So, to change the driving mode, you have to reach across the shifter, which is quite inconvenient and means possibly taking your eye of the road.
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This contrasts sharply with Volkswagen’s drive towards safer motoring, in which the Variant delivers a smarter range of safety features, including blind spot monitoring and rear traffic alert, both intended to prevent potential collisions.
With its new refreshed look and a modern interior that is comfortable as it is engaging, the Golf Variant will help give station wagons a renewed push towards acceptance. The trend is already evident with the high-powered engines and specs of models rolled out by Audi and BMW, among others.
For now still a niche model, the Variant could become the volk’s wagon of choice.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF VARIANT RATING:
Engine: 4 cylinder, 16 valves turbocharged
Capacity: 1,395 cc
Max Power: 92kW@5,000 -6,000rpm
Max Torque: 200Nm@1,400 -4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed DSG
CO2: 125 g/km
0-100kmh: 9.5 seconds
Top Speed: 205kmh
Retail price: *$129,400
Please reconfirm price with dealer.
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