NEW YORK -- Automotive journalists tend to agree that the perfect car combines a diesel engine, manual transmission, and wagon-style body. At the New York auto show, Volkswagen attempts to hit these notes with its Golf SportWagen concept.
Usually concept cars have futuristic features, such as cameras for side mirrors and doors that fold up rather than swing out, but the Golf SportWagen includes nothing that would not pass Department of Transportation requirements. More than a concept, Volkswagen says the Golf SportWagen will come out as a production model next year.
An evolution over the current Jetta SportWagen, the Golf SportWagen is based on a new platform that let Volkswagen increase the size while keeping it light. That translates to more passenger and cargo space over the current Jetta-based model.
The concept car on display not only had a diesel engine with a manual transmission, but included all-wheel drive as well. That makes an excellent combination for driving dynamics, fuel efficiency, and all-weather use.
When the Golf SportWagen hits showrooms next year, buyers will be able to choose between the 2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine, what Volkswagen calls TDI, and a turbocharged direct injection 1.8-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. Volkswagen has not specified the transmission for the gasoline engine, but notes that the TDI will offer a choice between a six-speed manual and a six-speed dual clutch automated manual.
The company has not said whether its 4Motion all-wheel-drive system will be standard or optional.
In the cabin, expect Volkswagen's latest navigation head unit as an option with its new Car-Net telematics feature.
The new Golf SportWagen will likely garner the same cult enthusiasm as the current Jetta-based wagon. US buyers tend to go for larger crossover-style vehicles when they want cargo space, or sedans as commuter cars. But the faithful few will be well-rewarded by the new SportWagen's fuel economy and driving dynamics.