I'm not quite as blown away by this Golf as Joe DeMatio was. First off, the steering wheel feels much too large in comparison to our GTI's spectacular looking and feeling wheel. I know I've complained about our GTI's upgraded stereo system because it looks like it should include navigation, but the base radio leaves me wanting. I found the FM reception to be sub-par and the sound quality wasn't very good, which is probably a result of the poor reception. It's a little disappointing that VW doesn't offer any other option for the stereo in the regular Golf. If you move up to the GTI or TDI models, there are much nicer stereos available and navigation becomes an option.
There's a very distinct German feel to the interior of this car. I recently spent a week in Germany where even the taxis are BMWs or Mercedes-Benzes. The Germans do a good job of reducing the cost of an interior (both for taxi duty and for that handy sub-$19k entry price) without making the plastics feel or smell nasty. If you want a bare-bones hatchback, the Golf is right up your alley. But if you're looking for a more premium compact hatch, the Mini Cooper starts at a similar price and doesn't require you to move up to a turbo engine to have a more plush interior.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor