Remember that Simpsons episode where the family joins a cult? The entire town is hypnotized by clearly unrealistic promises of awaiting paradise, provided they sacrifice everything in their life that was ever worth a damn.
I feel like that describes the automotive industry today. Manufacturers are The Leader, convincing us that needlessly downsized and complicated engines, lack of steering feel, electronics where they don't need to be, and automatic transmissions are the way forward.
Obsolescence and low quality are the name of today's game, robbing more and more sense out of long-term ownership – cars are now built to be leased.
They have to get those sacks of ballast cash for the UFO somehow, after all.
The worst part is, the
Marge, later in the episode, figures out people are being brainwashed, and escapes from the compound to save the others. The latest Volkswagen Golf is the vehicle to do this in – let's get into why.
You buy a Golf for the practicality: you expect lots of room inside, within a small, maneuverable footprint. Fortunately, that's still what you get today. Tall people can sit behind themselves, and there's still a somewhat-surprisingly large trunk (consider the Golf wagon if you need more). The interior is also a nice place to be, with fairly good materials and design everywhere you look, and comfortable seats to spend time in.
The ride is just as comfortable, yet literally nothing is sacrificed in the handling department. The chassis will happily take any corner of your choice, and it'll take it well at that. The automatic transmission even engine brakes in sport mode – but, crucially, you can still get a manual in any trim level you wish. The engine itself is eager and gets up to speed quickly. This is a fun to drive car, which shows as soon as you set off.
You won't be wanting for equipment (at least not objectively), even in this base Trendline trim. With the 2018 model year and the facelift it brings, every single Golf gives you some minor extra features, pleasantly freshened styling, and the GTI's XDS (cross differential system) electronic torque vectoring system.
Naturally, though, it's not all Blisstonia. The window switches feel cheap, as does the upper door card trim on the rear doors, which is noticeably lower quality than on the front doors. The glovebox doesn't lock, an omission I'm sure saved several cents per vehicle. The electric steering rack lacks feel (but then basically all of them do), and the exhaust note is...unfortunate.
But that's pretty much it. So until that UFO glides out of the forbidden barn, revealing a false promise with every dropping panel, the Golf is your ticket out. Personally, I'd go with a GTI, but if that's out of budget, the regular Golf will outrun that flying bubble just fine.