It’s a true world car, one that raises the average by the simple math of its popularity and excellence. And the very ubiquity of the platform it sits on is critical to its success. This is what happens when you can spread billions in development costs across millions of sales. Unlike many Volkswagens of old—and some of today—the Golf works as well in the U.S. as it does anywhere else, as happy in Waco or Wilmington as it is back home in Wolfsburg.
Much as we love the higher reaches of the range, it’s the basic Golf hatch that remains the best example of the benefits wrought from this globalized platform. There are bigger cars for the money, and faster ones, too. But none that comes close to the Golf’s relentless Teutonic precision. It is assembled to a standard that makes some luxury cars feel shoddy. The biggest weakness of its base engine, a 170-hp 1.8-liter turbo four, is that it is not the GTI’s 2.0-liter turbo four.
MQB was first used with the third-generation Audi A3 hatchback, introduced in Europe in 2012, and has since spread to underpin most of the VW Group’s compact and mid-size offerings. (The Jetta is a notable exception.) MQB is not a platform in the old sense, as the only hard and fast similarity is between the pedal box and the front axle line, allowing for a fully modular powertrain strategy. Volkswagen has said that MQB will last for several product cycles and up to 40 models will ultimately be built using it.
Current model breakdown:
A3: 2-door hatch, 4-door hatch, 4-door sedan, convertible
TT: coupe, convertible
Leon: 2-door hatch, 4-door hatch, wagon
Octavia: 4-door hatch, wagon
Superb: 4-door hatch, wagon
Golf: 2-door hatch, 4-door hatch, wagon
Golf Sportsvan: wagon
Passat (European market only): 4-door sedan, wagon