The saddest change Volkswagen announced for its 2019 lineup is that the Beetle enters its final year of production. Fortunately, there is better news in store for VW’s other small hatch. The 2019 Golf receives a new 1.4-liter engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission, among other updates.
Both Golf and Golf SportWagen models borrow the same 1.4-liter powertrain found in the new Jetta. This unit, making 147 hp, replaces the previous 1.8-liter engine that produced 170 horses. Buyers can choose between a six-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic. The 1.8-liter engine remains only on the S 4Motion SportWagen, where it’s paired to a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic.
We have no way to know how the 2019 Volkswagen Golf will drive, but we generally liked the new powertrain in the Jetta. In our First Drive, we wrote the Golf’s 184 lb-ft of torque at 1,400 rpm gives it “low-effort punch that pulls beyond what the diminutive displacement might suggest on paper.”
But the updates aren’t limited to the powertrain. The regular Golf hatch now comes standard with a number of safety features: blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, and forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian monitoring. For 2019, most VW models come standard with these amenities, including the Atlas, which used to offer these features higher up the chain.
The Golf GTI now packs a standard 228 hp, an increase of 8 hp from past years. The model also adds a Rabbit Edition, which features a black rear spoiler, 18-inch gloss black wheels, and Rabbit-badged seat tags as well as a few other upgrades. Golf R buyers can now choose from 40 different custom colors as part of the VW Spektrum program, and there is a new Black Wheel package.