2019 Volkswagen Golf SE – Bottom Line Review

QUICK ANIMAL FACT: The Rabbit or Hase (German for “Hare”) is able to make sprints at speeds of more than 25 miles per hour.

QUICKER ANIMAL FACT: A horse named Golf, owned by a VW lead engineer, likely was vastly quicker and nimbler than any hare.

Eponymous with the much slower Golf Strom (eng. Gulf Stream), German carmaker Volkswagen continued the wind or ecosphere model naming convention  for the model which would become the global standard for family hatchback cars, selling more than 30 million worldwide since its 1974 launch.

Rumors now swirl that a standard next generation Mk. 8 will not land in U.S. showrooms amid nominal sales and efforts to bring out the BHEV I.D. sub-brand.

Sibling site ChicagoNow.com “Drive…He Said already sampled and ultimately paid honor to the hotter VW Golf GTI hatch. The curious minds at Roadblazing.com have now set out to ascertain whether the mid-cycle refreshed and simplified 2019 VW Golf SE legitimately = Golf GTI lite.

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WHAT: 2019 Volkswagen Golf SE  Mid-cycle freshened Mk.7 of the renowned compact family liftback. Assembled on VW Group’s Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) modular platform.

Standard Power: transverse 1.4 L turbocharged DOHC 16V DI gas I-4 = 147 hp/ 184 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm + 6-speed manual helical gear transaxle, XDS viscous clutch front differential lock;

(Optional) 8-speed tiptronic torque converter automatic transaxle.


Truer to the category it elevated, Golf’s liftgate is vertical mustering a lower Kammback. Tall, relatively upright greenhouse + low belt-line without drastic roof rise or drop = maximum outward visibility; Body color matching roof spoiler; C-pillar magnifies rear door frame Hofmeister kink;  Convex hood, with length creasing paralleled on muscular fender, suggests globality or throwback to Beetle; Coke bottle fuselage bears subtle lower door crease; Bi horizontal bar = slim grille + tri bar air dam inlet, each with one bar chromed; Protruding bumper covers, rear cinched for license plate duty;

2019 Volkswagen Golf SE: Convex hood homage to Beetle takes on muscular creasing. Elegant chrome bands & trapezoid lower corner foglamps add distinction to simple, but sporty grille / air dam.
2019 Volkswagen Golf SE: Body matching roof spoiler = Sporty; Wrap around LED taillamps, dual exhaust outlets = trapezoid classy

Trapezoid Trapesing: Wrap around front, rear lamp housings; Front, rear lower corner driving lamp/ reflector bezels; Chromed dual lower rear exhaust outlets.


WHY: Paradigm for shift-it-yourself warm Fahrvergnügen.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since Autumn 2018.

WHERE: Volkswagen new car dealers

WHERE MADE: Puebla, Mexico

HOW STRONG: There’s no denying the 1.4L intercooled turbo-4 EA211’s heady 184 lb-ft at just 1400 rpm’s worth. Beware of long throttle travel. Clutch pedal benefits from such smooth take-up action. Brake pedal offset slightly to right aids heel-to-toe action. Short gear multiplication beyond 2nd gear in the helical manual transaxle hinders full boost pressure unlike an automatic planetary box. Roadblazing Tips = Move driver’s seat forward to contend with long clutch pedal travel and avoid upshifting prematurely.

2019 Volkswagen Golf SE: Driver’s entry
2019 Volkswagen Golf SE: Lower center stack manual transmission shifter, surround bezel blanks, retracting cover deep wireless media storage

Despite the some distant rumblings of VW air-cooled rear engine; Golf Mk. 7 is Teutonic Tight, as observed in the mass of the doors, the fluid swing and the solid closing thump, all qualities less apparent in the Mk. 7 Jetta. That could explain for the base audio set-up being plenty loud and lucid.

HOW LIMBER: Magic of MQB = full independent suspension grants each wheel generous geometric dancing and genuine car to driver telepathy. Power through a corner, 3/4 throttle in a lower gear, with front differential lock slipping more power to the outside wheel, up to the grip limits of the Kumho all-season rubber. The chassis responds with fluid roll resistance, confident wheel placement, suppleness with nary any nervous torsion beam Jetta Mk. 7 tail jitter.

Electric assist for that delicious dish of “D” shaped steering wheel is high though helpful in parking maneuvers. Quick windup and propotionate input response offsets some numbness. Disc brakes duplicated at each wheel hub impart positive, if measured, bite and confidence.

HOW FAR: accomplished 37 miles per gallon combined fuel economy; Look for 570 miles highway range on regular grade 87 octane gas.

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: This is one roomy compact hatchback, earning it a “family car” designation. -1 Big rear seat driveshaft tunnel.

2019 Volkswagen Golf SE: Rear seat entry, center console w/ sliding front center armrest

By Comparison:

  • Wheelbase = 1.4″ > Toyota Corolla Hatchback
  • 2nd Row legroom = 2.9″ > Corolla Hatchback
  • Nom. cargo volume = 30%  > Corolla Hatchback

HOW USEFUL: 60/40% split flat folding rear seat backs, outboard back releases; Rear seat cargo pass through accommodates one golf bag; Hatch area holds 4 stacked golf bags, width-wise capacity; Hatch area suspended parcel shelf; Overhead retracting sunglasses bin; 8 bottle & large cupholders;  +1 Felt lined long door pockets; +1 Solid resin cargo floor cover opens to locking wall latches.

2019 Volkswagen Golf SE: Sporting 4 golf club sets under hatch or 1 golf club set through pass through capacity

HOW SAFE: Rates “Good”  from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) except “Adequate” for passenger side small frontal offset protection : 6 airbags, Generous hot formed weight saving steel used in structure.

Driver assist technology: Rear camera w/ park gridlines, Blind spot + rear cross traffic warning; Forward collision avoidance; Pedestrian avoidance braking; Pedestrian avoidance braking; Automatic headlamps.

2019 Volkswagen Golf SE: Driver assist technology including Blind Spot warning, rear cross traffic alert, forward collision / pedestrian avoidance braking
2019 Volkswagen Golf SE: liftgate VW emblem serves dual function as liftgate release and retracting shielded rear camera for park guidance display

HOW FRIENDLY: Wide girth substantial hip support & cushioned front bucket seats; Heated front seats, power recline; Leather tilting, telescoping steering wheel; Front passenger’s height adjustable seat; 2-Zone automatic climate control; SPECIAL MENTION(S): Fore / aft sliding front center armrest;  Near panorama power moonroof.

Cool Gizmo(s): Selectable gauge cluster trip display Driving Minders; VW emblem exterior liftgate release doubles to reveal rear camera lens.

Details Done Right: Tight grained soft material upper dashboard; Minimized chrome bezeled switchgear; D-shape steering wheel with distinctive rocker action steering wheel spoke redundant media switches; Large pedals and channeled hard plastic dead pedal; 10-color variable LED cabin ambient lighting; +1 More polished fit & finish than Jetta Mk. 7.

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Hard, coarse grain mid – lower dashboard & door panels; -1 Grey simulated carbon fiber inlays; -1 Center console missing switch blank caps.

HOW “APP” -LICABLE:  In-dash 8.0″-inch capacitive touch/ gesture LCD infotainment display; Voice learning hands-free communications; SMS text messaging; Android Auto/ Apple Car Play / Mirror link wireless device overlays; +1 Simple transition between smart device overlay and native navigation; CarNet Apps; 6-speaker, 240 Watt streaming & HD radio audio offers = low distortion free, flat tone.

2019 Volkswagen Golf SE: Mix of staid Teutonic analog gauges and modern glossy 8″ touch / gesture LCD infotainment display with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay MirrorLink overlays

Subscription based: Sirius XM & Sirius XM TravelLink (90 days included trial); (3 years included), CarNet Info telematics valet

USB x 3, 12V x 1; +1 Hinged covered deep lower center stack mobile device pocket;

-1 No onboard wireless charging option; Glossy infotainment screen = fingerprint magnifier; -1 Numerous infotainment drop-down sub-menus

+/- SMS connectivity requests permission at each start; CD Player inside glovebox.

HOW MUCH: $25,040 = 2019 Volkswagen Golf SE list price.

WHAT’S MISSING: Heated steering, Lane keep assist

ANY COMPETITION: Honda Civic Liftback 1.4T : +1 Melodic powerplant, shifter + clutch action; Hyundai Elantra GT N-Line: +1 Plush ride, feature content / value; Mazda 3: +1 Steering feel, cabin materials; Toyota Corolla Hatchback: +1 Reliablity, Blue Flame color.


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