2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI 1.4 manual new car reviews

Even though the Golf has been with us since the 1970s, this year–2021–is the final year the Golf will be sold in the United States. In its place, the GTI and Golf R will carry on its legacy.

Reminiscing aside, what all do you get with a “normal” Golf? How about 147 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque connected to your choice of an eight-speed automatic or–how ours was equipped–a genuine six-speed manual.

While the Golf is not a performance-oriented hot hatch like its the GTI and Golf R, can it still offer the fun driving experience in its final year offered in the United States? Keep reading to find out.

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Chris Tropea
ChrisTropea
Associate Editor

When we booked our flight to go visit our friends at FCP Euro to do some filming during the IMSA race at Lime Rock Park, we knew we would need something practical and comfortable that could fit camera gear and get us around town. As a former GTI owner, I may be a bit biased, but it is hard to beat the utilitarian aspect of the Golf.

After putting a few hundred miles in both the driver and passenger seat, I can say that I was always comfortable with plenty of legroom for both myself and our Publisher, Tim Suddard. Ergonomically, everything is exactly where you would expect it to be, and if you have ever driven a Volkswagen product before, everything will feel very similar.

While it’s not the most modern-feeling car, the Golf offers what most would need in a daily driver. However, parts of the car do feel a little old school like the analog gauges and manual seats, but it is still an easy car to spend all day in. The visibility is good all around, plus we averaged around 37 mpg between highway and city driving.

That good fuel economy comes at a cost, though, in the form of weird gearing. This car wants to be driven efficiently. While you can wring out the gears and get the turbo happy, this model was clearly not built for a performance driving enthusiast.

Down low in the rpm, the car really struggles to generate any torque and is a bit of a dog, to the point that you often have to be in second or third gear just to merge onto the highway. The handling is comfortable but soft; it will handle the corners but does not inspire confidence while doing it.

One thing that really bugged us was the lack of USB ports. There is only one USB-C port in the dash and no standard USB ports, so charging our phones quickly became a bit difficult. Despite this, after spending the good part of a week in it, we went from not thinking too much of it to enjoying the drive so much that both Tim and I could see ourselves buying one if we were in the market for a car like the Golf.

Overall, the 2021 Golf is a good little car that will get you from A to B in comfort and do so efficiently.

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