A Photo For Sunday: 2019 VW Golf Variant

This’d be one of those under-the-radar kind of cars that I don’t notice much less write about. So what’s it doing here, today, now?

2019 VW Golf Variant (Denmark market nomenclature)

First and least importantly, the car’s presence here is a bit of DTW’s public service activity. I am documenting the car and making available a nice, clear side profile. Second, and more interestingly, we find the exception to the rule (and haven’t photographed that). What do I mean?

Well, if you manage to approach the car and look inside the rear passenger area, you’ll find a whopping big central arm-rest. I was going to ask why this car had it but the Ford Focus doesn’t. And to my surprise:

2019 Ford Focus interior: source

That’s the current Ford Focus rear seat back, complete with a fine-looking armrest complete with two nice ashtrays. Is it possible that someone in Ford towers and indeed VW Mansions is listening to DTW’s plaintive demands for more creature comforts for the people in the back of their midsizers?

WhatCar give the VW Estate a good review, by the way: “A huge boot with some clever touches gives it plenty of load-lugging appeal to family buyers, and yet it loses little of the current hatchback’s superb dynamics and top-notch refinement.” Which amounts to 4 stars out of five. Oddly, the VW Golf estate does not register with me the way the Astra, Focus and Megane do. The thing I noticed about it was that I noticed it at all and I have a lot of time for ordinary cars, as you know.

I wonder why that is? And secondarily, I am curious about the extent to which the Golf estate obviates the need for a Passat estate? Obviously if you want to haul a really large amount of stuff, the Passat does the job but the Golf is already as big as a D-class estate from the year 2000, as near as dammit. So, how many people really need 140% of the average person’s load-carrying needs on a daily basis?

Carbuyer praised the VW Golf estate’s quality and then complained about the price. And of a circle they would say “nice and round” but “not square enough”, I suppose. The Daily Telegraph is up-front about the Estate’s back: roomy and spacious and to read on click on their paywall. No, thanks.

2018 Peugeot 308 rear seats: source

All of that is fine and large – it doesn’t resolve the central puzzle of the disappearing and re-appearing rear central armrest on C-class cars. The operating theory behind their disappearance is that 60-40 folding seats, and central safety belts have made it impossible to accommodate the feature. Yet we have three cars from the middle market with the arm-rest firmly in evidence. If VW, Peugeot and Ford can do it (and kudos to them both) why can’t Opel and others?

From this I might ask readers to mull over features you wish ordinary cars had but don’t or don’t often. My fetish is arm-rests and ashtrays. What are yours? We’ve covered three-dial rotary HVAC controls so no need to resume that discussion.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

31 thoughts on “A Photo For Sunday: 2019 VW Golf Variant”

  1. I am generally a low electronic content guy, but I always miss not having an outside temperature sensor. It doesn’t have to be electronic, the 70’s Cadillacs had an analogue temp gauge on the driver’s mirror.

    I also really like fold down front seat armrests. The W124 Mercedes had this for bucket seats. The E34 BMW as well. Another W124 feature I like is the rear headrests can be dropped out of sight for greater visibility. Although a low cost substitute would be the see-thru headrests once used by Volvo, Saab and Audi.

    Seat heaters are not necessary for mild climates like Victoria, B.C. But from my years in Ottawa I know that at -15C even cloth is cold !

  2. I hope you don’t use any Uber or taxis Richard: what you commonly refer as ashtrays is where normal people put their drinks.

  3. I don’t think it exists yet but I think every car should have a small vaccum cleaner by the footwell, perhaps mounted on the side of it ? I imagine it would have an extensible cord, maybe like the curly cord of the old telephones, to reach the back seats. It’d be nice to be able to clean the car on the spot like that I think.

    1. I meant mounted on the passenger-side footwell in case someone was thinking of trying it as a sunday afternoon DIY project. Not a lot of room on the driver’s side, what with the pedals all that.

    2. And I thought I was a fusspot!

      NRJ, I have visions of you, driving along happily, then spotting some debris in the footwell and reaching down for your vacuum for a quick spot of on-the-move remedial action!

      My beloved seems to have an unfortunate knack of dragging an inordinate amount of shoe-borne debris into the car after we’ve been parked, most usually just after I’ve* cleaned the car. Incidentally, why are car boot liners always made out of a material that is better than Velcro for holding on to bits of debris, irrespective of how forceful one is with the vacuum cleaner nossle? Grrrr…

      * “I” in this case meaning the Eastern European boys opposite Tesco who do a great job and are always very polite. In my defence, I’ve no external hard standing to wash our cars myself, and I probably have too few precious years remaining to waste time doing this.

    3. Daniel – It’s just so hard to keep the inside clean isn’t it ? Maybe you should get a mat for your other half to wipe her feet before entering.

  4. “The operating theory behind their disappearance is that 60-40 folding seats, and central safety belts have made it impossible to accommodate the feature. ”

    Plenty of cars from the 1980s prove otherwise. And don’t those Focus seats look uncomfortable?

  5. Air vents for rear seat passengers. To help alleviate travel sickness without opening the windows.

    The Golf gives you these, the Focus does not (and nor does the Giulia unless you pay extra for them).

  6. My Fiesta has pointless interior mood lighting but no roof grab-handles, which I find very strange. However I don’t miss that because the driver generally doesn’t get a handle anyway. A lockable glovebox might be nice.

  7. “mull over features you wish ordinary cars had but don’t or don’t often”

    Some semblance of taste and restraint.

    And…

    1. Sills that aren’t too wide, so people can get in and out easily and without getting their clothes dirty.

    2. Much more variety in interior colours and materials.

    3. I like a nice ticket holder, too (old fart signifier. Bi-focal windscreen at the rate I’m going).

  8. Somewhere to put the remote entry fob in keyless-start cars, so if doesn’t rattle when driving along, such as happens when it’s dropped into a cupholder.

    The receptacle could be called, say, a “keyhole”, and the fob could be held securely in place by a piece of metal protruding from it. Actually, if the piece of metal had a unique profile that matched the hole, it could be turned to start the car, rather than have to press a “start” button?

    Nah, that would never catch on…

    1. Having used keyless entry and start for the last ten years I would hate to go back as its loads more convenient than a key.
      Daniel you are meant to keep the fob in a pocket not loose in the car!

    2. Good morning, D Gatewood. Yes, I know, but the keyless fob for our Mini us so large that it’s actually uncomfortable to have in a trouser or jeans pocket while sitting in the car. (Maybe I need to lose some weight…):

      It’s also not fully keyless in that you have to press an unlock button on the fob to get in, rather than the car simply detecting its presence and unlocking automatically.

      Regarding the latter, we had a rental Ford Mustang the last time we were in the US with a fully automatic keyless entry. I habitually lift/pull the door handle of any car I’m driving, to check it is actually locked before leaving it. This was, of course, impossible
      with the Mustang! Not good for my OCD tendencies…

      My Boxster has a much better solution. The keyless fob has no blade, but clicks into an “ignition” switch to the right of the steering wheel and you turn it just like a key to start the car (after it’s electronically identified as a match for the car). It’s also less bulky to carry in a pocket:

      Maybe I’m just an old luddite.

  9. FWIW my old Renault Megane II has a rear central armrest.
    Seeing pictures available online, I suspect Renault to use them also on mk3 and mk4 albeit lowest specs car could lack that piece…

    1. He ElCamillou: how was the Megane II in comparison with the Megane I? I didn´t know Renault retained that feature. My experience of the II was that is was a bit cramped and less comfy than the Mk1. The handbrake particularly irked.

  10. Good morning, D Gatewood. Yes, I know, but the keyless fob for our Mini us so large that it’s actually uncomfortable to have in a trouser or jeans pocket while sitting in the car. (Maybe I need to lose some weight…):

    It’s also not fully keyless in that you have to press an unlock button on the fob to get in, rather than the car simply detecting its presence and unlocking automatically.

    Regarding the latter, we had a rental Ford Mustang the last time we were in the US with a fully automatic keyless entry. I habitually lift/pull the door handle of any car I’m driving, to check it is actually locked before leaving it. This was, of course, impossible
    with the Mustang! Not good for my OCD tendencies…

    My Boxster has a much better solution. The keyless fob has no blade, but clicks into an “ignition” switch to the right of the steering wheel and you turn it just like a key to start the car (after it’s electronically identified as a match for the car). It’s also less bulky to carry in a pocket:
    À

    Maybe I’m just an old luddite.

    1. Thank you for your validation, Richard. Clearly, I cannot be a luddite if someone of your eminence sees merit in my idea!

    2. How come house keys are the same as they were in 1949, but we have to put up with this nonsense ?

    3. Thanks for this great history of keys diagram, Angel Martin!

      I think the 1990 SL key form factor is the pinnacle of car keys. Nothing better came before or after it. This spring loaded folding mechanism is incredibly satisfying to play around with, it’s reasonably compact, offers large enough remote locking buttons and a battery that lasts a really long time.

      Strangely within Mercedes this key didn’t live very long and was replaced by the first generation plastic fob only keys that offered absolutely no advantage over the preceding key generation (at least not as far as I can tell) while losing the spring loaded mechanics and the compact dimensions. Who took that decision? And why?

      Lucky for us, within VAG that exact form factor lives on to this day. But I assume its days are numbered there too.

      I’m not a big fan of the current generation Porsche or Tesla keys either. They are bulky and feel very Fisher Price-plasticky. If they were at least made of metal! Especially considering that Porsche charges several hundred €/$ extra for the key being coloured in the same colour as the car! (Daniel, is your Boxster red?) I’d love to know what the take-rate on that option is…

    4. Good morning, Max. Yes, my Boxster is Guards Red. However, I’m happy to reveal that I didn’t pay £££s to Porsche for the privilege of having a colour-coordinated key. The curved plastic sides of the fob simply unclip and can be replaced with coloured items, about £10 off Ebay:

      https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3Pcs-Remote-Key-Fob-Case-Shell-Covers-For-Porsche-Panamera-Macan-Cayman-911/254203613334?hash=item3b2fb75096:g:7L0AAOSwZUhcpcsc&redirect=mobile

      Bad mistake on Porsche’s part to make it so easy to do!

    5. Excellent, Daniel. That’s the “Swabian solution” and I am sure every single (Swabian) Porsche employee will do exactly the same.

    6. Daniel – May I suggest to you these different bootlid spoilers for the Boxster from Ebay China ? There’s a wide range of prices but any of them will add instant class and elegance to the proceedings.

      https://www.ebay.fr/sch/i.html?_nkw=porsche+boxster&_in_kw=1&_ex_kw=&_sacat=0&_udlo=&_udhi=&_ftrt=901&_ftrv=1&_sabdlo=&_sabdhi=&_samilow=&_samihi=&_sadis=15&_stpos=13200&_sargn=-1%26saslc%3D1&_fsradio2=%26LH_LocatedIn%3D1&_salic=45&LH_SubLocation=1&_sop=12&_dmd=1&_ipg=200

      Otherwise you can create your own split-HEADLIGHTS !

    7. NRJ, I’m affronted that you should suggest such a thing! That would be like dressing Linda Evangilista from Primark!

      My Boxster is (almost) as she left the factory, admittedly loaded up with expensive OEM extras. I’ve only fitted two aftermarket accessories; Zunsport grilles to protect the radiators and air-con condensers from stone damage, and a glass wind deflector to replace the standard-fit net item.

      The grilles are essential as I had to replace both condensers on my (not hard driven) previous Boxster at 35k miles, at a cost of over £500. The glass wind deflector improves rearward visibility, especially with the hood up. Incidentally, both invalidate the Porsche warranty…

  11. I know I have commented on the current generation of the Golf Estate before, but feel a desire to so do again. It’s a fine thing and, as an all-rounder, still unstoppable in my book. The same platform/ matrix Octavia Estate gives one more space (and exterior metal) for the same £ or less, and, I might say, a better balanced look around the rear 3/4 (the extra inches in the wheelbase make all the difference to the proportions). However, there is also a certain ‘chill’ about the interior of the Octavia. It’s a bit plain and stark, in both design and materials. And then there is the badge thing; some people still have a thing about Skodas. I’d still have one over the A-Class, Focus, Megane, Corolla, et al, but I went Octavia because I wanted the extra space and enjoy not going for the obvious choice (which has been my undoing on occasion in the past (i.e. I did not buy a Mk1 Focus for that exact reason).

  12. Is that a feature or rather a matter of interface design? I’d like my C6 to have an instrument brightness control that’s as easy as it was in my 1982 CX. This one had two simple round dials on the right side of the steering wheel hub, reachable with my fingertips. One was for the magnifying glass type speedo and one for the rest of the lamps and instruments. Now my C6 has two buttons on the wrong side of the central screen, high up on the dashboard just about in the reach of my stretched arm. No chance for short people… This affetcs all lit units in the car, the instrument cluster as well as the screen. There is an option deep in a menu for adjusting the screen brightness separately, however this setting is lost once I touch the general brightness button again…
    Now if you ask for features in ordinary comtemporary cars, I have to admit that my experience of them is quite limited, but I mostly miss windows, springs and seat cushions.

    1. “…but I mostly miss windows, springs and seat cushions.”

      Those are missing in expensive cars as well.

  13. A note on arm rests, among other things:

    I don’t know why but I have always had a weird obsession with rear center arm rests. The first thing I do getting into the back of any car is to fold it down – if there is one, that is. I was all the more shocked that in my recent ride in a brand new Mercedes E-Class (W213) taxi in Germany there was in fact none! In an E-Class. Taxi. No arm rest. Why, oh why?

    This is all the more shocking as my best-arm-rest-I-have-ever-experienced-award goes to the Mercedes W123. The arm rest folds down in a very special way because it has an extra hinge in the folding mechanism. It’s pulled out from the bottom, not from the top, which makes for a sensational mechanical experience! Just brilliant!

    I am also very dissatisfied with the industry trend of putting uncovered plastic cup holders lazily on the top of the arm rest surface. I think this “solution” has already found its way into the midst of quite a few “premium” model ranges. I think it’s horrible to look at, uncomfortable to rest your arm on and just worse than any of the clever folding solutions that predates it.

    While on a rant: Another dying feature, the foldable infotainment screen. Is there anything more satisfying (except the spring loaded key and a clever arm rest folding mechanism) than raising and lowering a little screen at the push of a button? The positive side effect of not having to look at the screen all the time is also nice of course.

    As at this rate the Bentley Continental GT will soon end up the only car on the market fulfilling my criteria, I should start thinking about pursuing a career in real estate or money laundering. Please let me know, should you know of any available positions.

  14. The Variant, known as Sportwagen around here isn’t too bad, other than having the usual Golf problem of a too far forward B-pillar, which is my biggest bugaboo of too many current cars. They try to force you into a SUV/CUV/crossover to get reasonable entry and exit. If my 2008 Subaru, which is very low because of the GT suspension, can accomplish this minor piece of ergonomics, why is a Golf so darn useless? And drinks holders in plain sight annoy me. Mine have a roll-top in front and a door in the rear.

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