Volkswagen has done some model line shuffling, moving its Jetta SportWagen to its Golf line. A similar size and a lighter weight define the new model that goes on sale in US showrooms this spring.
Mention the word “SportWagen” to any Volkswagen acolyte and “Jetta” may come to mind. That’s a fair assumption as the two names have been conjoined since the Jetta SportWagen came to the market in 2011.
Model Line Migration
However, beginning in 2015, the two names have officially been dissevered as the Jetta SportWagen was terminated to make way for the Golf SportWagen. And lest you think that the new model is a smaller version of the Jetta variant, consider this: the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen is slightly larger and capacious than the outgoing Jetta version in keeping with upsizing for the subcompact Golf model line. Further, bigger does not mean weightier either as Volkswagen found a way to prune 137 pounds from the original SportWagen.
Please indulge me and I mention one side reference: where vehicle lines were downsized from the late 1970s and through much of the 1980s — in a bid to save weight and improve fuel economy — today’s vehicles are trending larger as weight savings are realized elsewhere, typically through smaller engines and in the greater use of lightweight materials, including carbon fiber, aluminum and high-strength steel.
2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen
Arriving in dealer showrooms in April, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen is priced from $21,395 for the base 1.8T model powered by a turbocharged, 1.8-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine. It comes paired with a 5-speed manual transmission; opt for the 6-speed automatic and you will add $1,100 to the price. Volkswagen estimates that the gas model will achieve 36 mpg on the highway.
Also available is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, turbo-diesel engine. It comes paired with a 6-speed manual or a dual-clutch automatic transmission. The base TSI S starts at $24,595 and achieves an estimated 43 mpg on the highway.
Although the SportWagen is definitely a wagon, it has the utility of a small crossover and might be compared with the likes of the Chevrolet Trax, Honda HR-V, Nissan Juke, Mazda CX-3, Jeep Renegade and the Fiat 500X. However, the front-wheel drive SportWagen has no all-wheel drive variant, unlike the assemblage of subcompact crossovers.
Shortcoming or not, Volkswagen says that the SportWagen has the equivalent fun-to-drive characteristics as the standard Golf, including the versatility that this best-selling VW bestows. With this in mind, Auto Trends has not received a model to test yet, so we will reserve our own comments for a later date.
Corresponding Trim Levels
Volkswagen will market the new SportWagen in six trim levels, with three each corresponding to the chosen engine. The gasoline engine yields TSI S ($21,395), TSI SE ($26,995) and TSI SEL ($29,345) editions; the diesel engine yields TDI S ($24,595), TDI SE ($27,995) and TDI SEL ($30,345) editions. Notably, the diesel option in “S” lines is a $3,200 premium, but drops to just $1,000 with the SE and SEL editions. By the same token, the diesel equivalents are outfitted with the manual transmission — to upgrade to the automatic, you would pay an additional $1,100.
Every SportWagen offers aluminum-alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, a touch screen, SiriusXM satellite radio and iPod integration. Power accessories and air conditioning are standard as are manually-operated leatherette seats.
The amenities list expands as you move up, as larger wheels, front fog lights, keyless entry with push button start, a panoramic sunroof and a rear view camera are included with the SE editions. Select the SEL and you gain automatic climate control, sport seats, and a 12-way power adjustment for the driver. Lighting and assistance options are available with the SE and SEL trim levels.
Advancing the Volkswagen Brand
For Volkswagen, a model such as the SportWagen is imperative, regardless whether it is called a Golf or a Jetta. This German automotive manufacturer has had a tough time in the ultra-competitive US market and needs additional new products to flesh out its model line. And those new models can not come quick enough.
SportWagen photo courtesy of Volkswagen of America, Inc.