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Love/Hate TDI relationship

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 7/25/2015 Marty

After owning this Golf TDI car for only one month, here is what I think so far:PROs:- Gas Mileage: I average 36 mpg. Plus, diesel is 30 cents/gallon cheaper than 87 octane gas in California.- Front Seats: The heavy bolstering holds me in place during aggressive cornering. Larger individuals may hate it. The cloth material is thick, durable, and textured for additional grip.- Interior: the soft touch dash and leather steering wheel make the interior feel a bit upscale. - Tire Pressure Sensor: I had 2 defective tires, both of which went flat. They were not noticeable without the sensor.- Steering: The steering ratio is a little aggressive with medium effort to steer. It adds to a sporty feel. - Suspension: Good compromise of firmness and compliance over bumps. It feels sporty, but is still useful as a daily driver. - Diesel power: This engine won't wow anyone with straight line acceleration. It does extremely well at low RPMs where all the torque is made. Climbing hilly roads feels effortless for the vehicle. Diesel engines also have a record of being very reliable. We will see if that holds true in this car. - Sound/infotainment system: The sound quality is above average for a non-premium system. It comes stock with a 6 disc changer, which is useful if you want to dust off your old CD collection. The infotainment system does not take long to learn. Also, the radio can turn on with no key in the ignition. That is convenient for entertaining children/passengers, if you don't trust them alone with the keys in the car. CONs:- Diesel Availability: Diesel fuel is not always easy to find when you are looking. About 1 in 3 gas stations in my area have it. - DSG: This transmission is probably the worst transmission I've ever used. Have you ever been stopped, push the throttle and not go anywhere for 1-2 seconds. The car will inch forward for another second, and then react appropriately to your input. This is dangerous when making a left hand turn in front of oncoming traffic. It only happens about 25% of the time, so it is completely unpredictable and happens in both standard drive mode and sport mode. Similar delays happen when trying to pass, but I'm used to cars getting confused about downshifting. There is no downshifting from a stop, at least I hope not. Engine braking is weird as well. It is most noticeable when coasting to a stop. The DSG engages 1st gear at about 12-13mph, decelerating the car quickly to 6-7mph, then coasting again. When coasting from high speeds to low speeds, such as coasting to 35mph from 55mph, the engine revs to 3100 RPM in preparation for a downshift. The diesel engine free reving at 3100 RPMs is loud. This has lasted up to 20 seconds until it finally downshifts to induce engine braking. It's odd to experience this from the driver's seat. - Engine Noise: The engine sounds like a gasoline engine with valve knocking. It turns heads in a parking lot and not in a good way. However, once at cruising speeds the noise is no longer intrusive in the cabin.- Doors: The door settles into positions to hold itself open for getting in/out. The first position is just wide enough to squeeze out of the car. The second position threatens neighboring cars in many parking situations, and hits the wall in my garage. There is no easy in-between because the door pushes/pulls its way to one of those positions. It's a weird nuisance I rarely needed to think about with other cars. - Bluetooth: Set to interrupt music with navigation updates from my phone, it also cuts off my music every two minutes for a voicemail recording that doesn't exist on my phone. - Blind spots: The massive B-pillar is in my way for checking blind spots. My seating position plays a part. I am 6' 2" tall. - Phone charging: I'm using the same USB adapter from my old car to charge my phone and it charges noticeably slower. - Locking system: The car honks when you lock the car with the key fob. I asked the dealership to disable that honk, and they said they can't on this particular model. Additionally, the lock button in the car door only works when all the doors are closed, so you cannot use it to lock your car as you exit the vehicle. I'm stuck annoying sleeping neighbors when I come home at night. Additional conveniences I think this car should have:- Automatic headlights - this has been in some cars for decades, why is it not a feature in all cars. - Automatic climate control - Put in a temperature and forget. Same logic as above, all cars should have this by now. Conclusion:Overall, I think the car is a compromise. I really enjoy the gas mileage, interior quality, and sporty upgrades, but I really hate the DSG and engine noise. The price premium eats most of the gas savings over a regular Golf. If you really want a TDI and are comfortable with a manual transmission, I highly recommend going that route.

Average Rating : 4

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