VW Golf

The 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI comes with a 1.4-liter, 16-valve turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 147 horsepower. While that may not seem like much power, the TSI’s light weight helps it go from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 7.5 seconds – and the car gets 29 mpg city/36 mpg highway, according to the EPA.

America gets the new-generation Volkswagen Golf for 2022. But only in two high-performance variants. The standard Golf, the TSI, will be available in Europe but won’t be coming here. Blame poor stateside sales of the TSI.

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 engine making 147 horsepower. That will seem underwhelming, but the TSI is a light car by modern standards (2,918 pounds), so it goes from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 7.5 seconds. The transmission in our tester was an eight-speed automatic, but a six-speed manual is available as well.

And the payoff comes at the gas pump, with an Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy average of 29 mpg city/36 mpg highway (with the six-speed manual, that becomes 29 mpg city/39 mpg highway).

With gasoline prices well above $4 in the Bay Area, 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 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 10, you don’t need more car than this to get through your day.

And here’s the clincher – all this sensibility, style, performance, handling and fuel economy comes with a base price of $23,995. 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, six-speaker audio system and power sunroof.

And – that’s it. There are no extra-cost options. So, with $995 destination charge, the as-tested price of the 2021 Volkswagen Golf TSI is $24,990.

That’s $15,000 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.

Mike Hagerty, vice president of membership for Western Automotive Journalists (waj.org), has been writing about cars since 1997. To read more of his auto reviews, visit his website (MikeHagertyCars.com) and follow him on Twitter (twitter.com/mikehagertycars) and Facebook (facebook.com/mikehagertywritesaboutcars).