Myspace, the iPod, reality television, and the Toyota Prius…. these are just some of the things that will unfortunately define my generation in the putative history book of America. I despise most of these things for one reason or another, but none more so than the Prius. It does nothing well; the driving experience is garbage, the gas milage is not what they claim, and it’s overpriced. The fact that the general public believes this car to be the pinnacle of transportation sickens me near the point of regurgitation.
On the opposing side, there is the story of the deisel car in America. The general public and the US goverment has had the notion that diesels are huge polutants to the environment and that they sound like a semi truck barrelling down the highway. In actuality, the new deisel vehicles that are coming from Germany are extremely clean, reliable, and efficient. Brands like Volkswagen have been forced to use terminology like “Clean Diesel” in order to sound trendy to the American consumer. The 2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI is the brand’s newest attempt to get some attention off the Prius and help people to see the light in regard to modern diesel technology. After my short time in the car, I find myself leading the choir in its praise.
In total we put around 600 miles on the car throughout the week it was with us, using nearly only one fill-up of the 14.5 gallon tank. We were getting about 41 Mpg with street and highway driving combined as we took some small trips and ran errands around town. You read that right: 41… just slightly less than a Prius’ realistic mileage. Another part of this car that amazed us was the quality of the interior. VW spared no expense to create such a enjoyable driving experience. The fabric on the seats was comfortable and seemed like it would hold up well over time. The dash and doors had plenty of soft-touch materials and brushed metal. Even though I use the word “little”, there was still plenty of room for 5 adults easy, along with a huge trunk for all the extras. The Nav worked great, got us to where we were going everytime without any mishaps or frantic searching for options in the menu. Our test car had the upgraded Dynaudio system which was great, very loud and very clear especially with the satellite radio. The Shadow Blue metallic paint is, in my opinion, the best and looks great with the Xenon headlights.
The driving dynamics of the car where as fantastic as every other Golf I’ve ever driven. The 2.0l diesel engine had 140hp and a fantastic 236 ft lbs of torque which is another advantage of a diesel engine. The car sprinted forward with little hesitation and shifted very smoothly with the 6-spd DSG transmission. The chassis of the car took the turns confidently when we took it to some twisty roads in the mountain and was still soft enough to make bumpy roads noticeable on the way back home. The price of the car we received was $28,790, but included many options, like navigation and sunroof, that bumped it up about $3,000 over a standard TDI. That may seem like a generous amount of coin for a compact car considering it’s about $3-5000 over a Prius. But then again, you get much nicer materials and a car that you could keep for the rest of your life without worrying about expensive batteries to replace. I also wouldn’t feel cheated paying $25k for a Golf TDI as much as I would for a Prius, it’s simply more of a car and more practical.
Our final verdict after the week was up was that, for the money, this is a great alternative to the Prius for somebody who wants great gas mileage, and with the Golf you also get something that actually looks nice and performs nicely as well. It’s always nice when you can have an enjoyable time in a vehicle and then continue smiling when filling the tank up on rare occasion. We love the way VW is heading with their entire lineup of vehicles, especially their Clean Diesels, and can’t wait to see how their technology develops in the future.