2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI Wagon Road Test Review

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The first diesel-powered Volkswagens to appear in Canada weren't particularly promising.  In the 1970s, the Volkswagen Rabbit diesel was a diminutive little econobox with a 1.5-litre engine that returned 60 miles per gallon (4.7L/100km… and yes young'uns, we used UK-spec mpg back then – Ed.), but not much in the way of performance.  Somehow, that unassuming little car still managed to develop a following, thanks to its fantastic fuel economy and reliable powertrain. 

Things have come a long way since then.  The latest generation of VW's Turbo Direct-Injection (TDI) powered vehicles offer power, performance and handling that were unheard of in the early 1970s. 

The TDI's frugality and performance are even more desirable when combined with the Golf's new Wagon body style.  Unique wraparound taillights and a sloped backlight set it apart from the average station wagon. 

The interior is instantly distinguished when the Golf Wagon is equipped with the available panoramic sunroof.  The massive expanse of glass lets the sunshine in, and highlights the airy cabin and big cargo area in back.  The spacious interior appointments are up to Volkswagen's high standards, with clean styling that seems to have come from a price class above the Golf's.  Standard equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control and a tilt-telescoping steering wheel.   Available equipment includes V-Tex leatherette seating, Sirius Satellite Radio and an in-dash CD changer.  Touch-screen navigation and Volkswagen's Media Device Interface (MDI), which enables easy use of iPods and other USB devices, are also on the options list.  Behind the rear seats, there is 929 litres (32.8 cubic feet) of cargo space.  Fold the seats down and the Golf Wagon's capacity increases to 1,894 litres (66.9 cubic feet). 

Like many diesels, the Golf TDI's 2.0-litre four-cylinder doesn't produce impressive numbers by North American standards--only 140 horsepower--but horsepower isn't the diesel's main selling point.  Power is delivered without hesitation thanks to the broad torque band, which provides a healthy 236 pound-feet between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm, and once underway the Golf Wagon TDI is nearly silent at freeway speeds.  Direct-injection fuel delivery and an electronically controlled turbocharger ensure that the TDI is clean burning as well as efficient. 

On the road, the standard six-speed manual transmission makes the most of the TDI's power, so this is not one of those "slow" diesels.  In fact it drives more or less just like any Golf would, with brisk acceleration and a broad powerband that makes high-speed travel a breeze.  A six-speed automatic with Volkswagen's DSG dual-clutch Tiptronic manual shifting is optional, and doesn't hurt the fun-to-drive factor.  The Golf TDI's 7.8L/100km city and 5.78L/100km highway fuel economy (on the EPA cycle) rivals much smaller and less enjoyable cars. 

The suspension is fully independent, with MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear.  Volkswagen's familiar taut and responsive handling is the order of the day, even with a heavy load in the back.  Electromechanical power steering offers quick response and is energy-efficient as well.  Electronic stability control is standard equipment, as are the four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes.  The Golf doesn't mind being driven hard, and responds confidently to curves.  What's impressive is the Golf's flexibility; there's not much difference in road feel between gasoline and diesel models, or between hatch and wagon. 

Volkswagen's TDI models already have a following among the folks looking for a high-efficiency alternative to hybrid-electric vehicles, and it's growing.  The Golf Wagon TDI is a quick, no-compromise way to achieve brilliant fuel economy without sacrificing utility or driving pleasure.  Golf Wagon pricing starts at $22,675, and it doesn't cost that much to add diesel power, all things considered.  The Golf Wagon TDI starts at $26,875, a price walk of just over $4,000 that still keeps it well within reach of the average consumer.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Wagon, Volkswagen, VW, 2010, Golf Wagon, $20,000 - $29,999, Diesel,

Organizations: Volkswagen

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