COAL Update: Wolfy at Two and a Half

One of my rather odd habits is naming cars, or the ones I like, anyway. My 2018 Volkswagen Golf is a car I certainly like and what’s not to like? It is a hoot to drive, is very easy on fuel and can do many things very well. I didn’t take long to coin “Wolfgang von Wolfsburg de Puebla,” Wolfy for short.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Wolfy is that in two years, absolutely nothing has broken or required warranty service. Nothing. Nada. The Golf VII was supposed to be more reliable and I guess Wolfy is the proof. The car is just a superb all-rounder. I’ve already taken him to the Rocky Mountains twice and to San Diego. The handling in mountain roads is superb and the limits higher than mine. It just barrels down the road at any speed you may choose and it gets better as one goes faster. The steering lets you feel every pebble and the motor is just a romper-stomper.

Yes, it’s the fabled and now dearly departed (for the Golf, anyway) EA888. This motor can easily handle 500 hp and has been built to 1000. The thing is very solid, with a grey iron block and all the high tech stuff. The stock engine is rated at 170 hp but every dyno test I have seen on the interwebs shows it making 190 hp. One has to remember I was raised driving Rabbit Diesels and Slant Sixes. The 184 ft/lb of torque maxes out at all of 1400 RPM and it will pick up beautifully from low revs-if you are using premium gasoline.

Yes, it much prefers premium over regular. The manual strongly hints that premium is better and the difference is very pronounced. With 87 octane, trying to get the motor to pick up at say 1000 RPM produces what seems to be turbo lag. In fact, it’s the PCM retarding the living daylights out of the timing so there are no holes blown in a piston. Put premium fuel in it and it picks up beautifully from 800 RPM.

It drives like two different motors in many ways. Below 2000 RPM is economy Wolfy, all quiet and torquey, making incredible fuel consumption figures. Above 2000 the torque rush is a hoot and makes the car feel faster than it is but one must remember I used to drive 48 hp Rabbits and was genuinely impressed by the 68 hp turbo diesel my dad had. One of the best features is the motor’s quietness. Go have a listen to a BMW N-series or the MB two litre in the A class cars; they clatter like a diesel. The EA888 is virtually silent all the time, unless you don’t want it to be.

Fuel economy is superb. I use Chevron 94 sans deathanol in all my vehicles and that alone is going to give a 5% improvement. The best tank I have had was 4.6l/100km (51 mpg), the absolute worst was 8.2 (28.6 mpg). In normal city driving-if driving in Vancouver could ever be considered normal- it does 7.2l/100km (33 mpg) . Highway trips are 5.0l/100km (47 mpg) and with the 50 litre tank it can go a lot longer without a stop than I can. The tank below is for a short distance at only 90 km/h, but it shows what is possible with a light foot. (ED: YMMV)

Admittedly, not an accurate measurement

What I like most about Wolfy is his versatility. I’ve loaded him to the gills many times, including on the roof and he hasn’t missed a beat. The seats and driving position are very comfortable even on long days. Wolfy can go shopping or charge up a mountain road. A great feature for those of us in Soviet Canuckistan is how the engine warms up quickly and thus heats the cabin in no time. It can carry an eight foot 2X4 with the hatch closed, something impossible in a parlour truck. With the rear seats down, it is 190 cm long, which makes it possible to sleep inside. In fact, during my last Rocky Mountain Romp I did just that and slept great. Along with versatility, the car gives one a sense of security. It’s built like a tank and has zero rattles and squeaks. It’s easy to see why the Golf is so popular in Europe and China since the car can do so many things.

This car is my swansong. If I buy another, it will be an EV because here in Canuckistan anyway, it’s basically the same ownership cost for a Honda Accord or a Tesla Model 3. I will be retiring to places tropical in a couple of years but Wolfy will be in the garage when I come visit.