A bit too much wind noise from the B-pillar is the only real complaint I have with this Golf. It's got comfortable seats, nice steering, a nice gearbox, and a strong engine. Sure, it's no GTI, but it also costs $6000 less than that pocket rocket and rides a bit more comfortably day-to-day, as David noted. I was very fond of the turbo-diesel Golf that we sampled a couple weeks back, but that model carries a $4700 price premium over the base 2.5-liter five-cylinder Golf, which consequently makes a very strong case for itself as the best small car on the market, as David also opined.
True, the base Golf does look a bit downscale with its wheelcovers and plain grille, but the only hesitation I'd have in recommending this car for basic transportation is VW's poor reputation for reliability (although that bad period seems to be receding) and my feeling that 22/30 mpg city/highway is too low for an entry-level compact car. So I may be leaning again toward the Golf TDI, which is rated at 30/41 mpg.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor