Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Affordable Every-Man's Car Volkswagen Golf Meets Snooty San Francisco

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI.
I'm not the kind of guy who refuses to bend his own rules here and there. I've been known to do it from time to time. So, when faced with either bending a rule or passing on the recent Volkswagen media launch of the redesigned 2015 Golf in its many iterations, I became as flexible as boiled pasta.

At issue was VW's insistence that attendees fly in one day and back out the next. In other words, take a red-eye flight home. Actually, more a guiding principle than an ironclad rule, I steer clear of almost any event requiring me to stay awake all night, facing the next day exhausted and bleary eyed. Even when there are dancing girls and an open bar involved, I still eventually hit the sack before the rooster warbles.

One reason I relaxed my no-red-eye rule in this case was because I had 16 days of travel with only a couple of days and a couple of nights at home sprinkled into the mix. Flying at night instead of the next day gave me some extra daylight hours to get stuff done around the house: mowing the dirt and so forth.

Volkswagen running its hurry-up offense for the Golf media launch may have been based on the fact that although Golf is an extremely important car for Volkswagen globally, not so much in the U.S. Here, VW only pushed about 30,000 Golfs over the curb in 2013.

The Hotel Zetta.
Volkswagen threw this little affair in San Francisco. Hosting us at the Hotel Zetta downtown. As with many San Francisco hotels, Zetta is a little quirky, but comfortable and relatively quiet for being center city. The staff is friendly and helpful, too. 

The Thirsty Bear Brewery.
With some time to burn, thanks to my early afternoon arrival, I immediately went on the hunt for a microbrewery. As fate would have it, one of the bellmen directed me to the Thirsty Bear Organic Brewery about four blocks from the Zetta. Feeling a tad under the weather for reasons that still escape me, I chose to only sample one of Thirsty Bear's craft beers. Its Kozlov Stout held great promise; so, I ordered a pint. It had just enough chocolate on the finish. Good stuff. 

Mmmm...a Kozlov Sout. Organic? Who knows?
To me, San Francisco seemed an odd fit for the Golf intro. Through its draconian green space efforts and building restrictions, the city has managed to drive home prices and the cost of living in general into the upper stratosphere where only the really well heeled can afford to play. Golf is, after all, VW's every-man's car. Unless one is so smitten with San Francisco that he is willing to sleep on the street -- and there appears to be no shortage of people willing to do just that -- housing is a tough nut to crack. But where to park a car -- even a small one?

With sufficient pull, you could always park your Golf in the reception area of the Hotel Zetta.
Anyone on the hunt for a smaller hatchback, should be able to find a Golf to fit any need or budget. Getting your foot in the Golf door requires a measly $17,995 for the most affordable of the bunch: Golf TSI. It comes with a 170-horsepower 1.8-liter turbocharged four. Armed with full power accessories, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, and hill hold assist, the baseline Golf is nicely outfitted. If your wallet has a bit more depth, you can pony up for one of the ascending trim levels – even move up to four doors – with all manner of goodies.

Then there is the $21,995 Golf TDI with its 150-horsepower 2-liter diesel engine and EPA-estimated 42 mpg on the highway. VW also offers it in better contented trims.

Both the TSI and the TDI will eventually be available as the SportWagen, too.

Golf GTI cockpit.
Then there is the $24,395 hot-shoe Golf GTI. Like the TSI, it comes in several flavors, each with the 210-horsepower 2-liter turbocharged four. What a blast to drive and toss around the turns. You can keep heaping content in it as you move up through the trim levels until you reach $30,695 for the GTI Autobahn with automatic transmission.

Does the talk of fuel-slurping performance get your knickers in a knot? Well before you go all Sierra Club, know that even with the automatic tranny, the GTI manages an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. But if that is still not good enough fuel economy for you, there is the electric-vehicle version: e-Golf.

VW says it can hump to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in 10 seconds. It's top speed will be 87 mph. VW also claims an average range of 70 to 80 miles. I clocked about 4 miles behind the wheel of one. Fun to drive? Not particularly; but other than the Tesla, what EV is. But it will get you where you need to go in a crowded urban environment. 

The fully electric e-Golf.
Without a doubt, the GTI is the real smile maker among this bunch; although, the TSI is fun in its own right.

Volkswagen started the whole hatchback craze with the Golf 40 years ago. Be assured, it is still alive and well in its 2015 skin.

The bottom line is that I like the redesigned Volkswagen Golf a lot. San Francisco? Not so much. Just another reason the one-day turnaround worked OK for me. It was enough time to drive the Golf, and drink a pretty decent beer.

1 comment:

  1. Any word on the all-important (for me anyways) GTD?