Last Call: The 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI
Updated: Apr 1, 2022
America gets the new generation Golf for 2022. But only in two high-performance variants. The standard Golf, the TSI, won't be coming here.
Don't get me wrong. The GTI and the Type R are both wonderful vehicles, and I'm excited to drive the new generation of them. But, as I've been telling readers for years, if we're honest with ourselves, the Volkswagen Golf---the standard Golf TSI---is really the only car most American drivers need. And it's a much better fit for our lives than the vehicles that are selling big.
Under the hood of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI is a 1.4-liter, 16-valve turbocharged four-cylinder making 147 horsepower. That will seem underwhelming, but the TSI is a light car by modern standards (2918 pounds), so 0-60 is about seven and a half seconds. The transmission in our tester was an eight-speed automatic, but you can get a six-speed manual.
And the payoff comes at the gas pump, with an EPA fuel economy average of 29 city/36 highway (with the six-speed manual, that becomes 29 city/39 highway).
With gasoline prices well into the four-dollar range in Northern California (and nearing 5 bucks in San Francisco, where we took the Golf TSI for a long Memorial Day weekend), that kind of fuel efficiency is a major plus.
Plus---the Golf TSI handles. It's a delight on winding roads, it's a breeze on city streets and freeways (even in notoriously car-challenging San Francisco), and it's probably the easiest car to park that I've driven in a while.
The interior of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI is surprisingly spacious for a small car. Materials and fit and finish are first-rate. Need to carry more cargo? Just flip down the rear seats. Seriously---nine times out of ten, you don't need more car than this to get through your day. And the clincher---all this sensibility, style, performance, handling and fuel economy carries a base price of $23,995. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights at that price are 16-inch alloy wheels, heated, foldable, power-adjustable side mirrors, rain-sensing windshield wipers with heated washer nozzles, heated front seats, a six-speaker audio system and a power sunroof.
And---that's it. No extra-cost options. So with $995 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI is $24,990.
That's 15-thousand dollars less than the average price of a new car in America this year. Hopefully, at some point, enough people here will figure out that, yes, the Golf TSI is the car they need and VW will bring us the new one.