"That's a diesel?" You get that a lot at the gas stations, as well as attendants shutting the pump off on you to helpfully "save" your car. You'd be hard pressed to know it's a diesel, as well. Sure, from the outside its definitely louder at idle (up to about 1600rpm it's got that diesel clatter), and there's no smoke or fumes from the engine, either. On the coldest days, it needed no more than 15 seconds for the glowplugs to do their job, and it'll start right up. The HP is low, but don't let this deter you. You won't notice with the torquey engine and gearing ratios. The Tiptronic feature of the auto 5spd isn't exciting, shift lag is high. On the other hand, it'll let you hold a gear for climbing,etc
It's torquey and fun to drive, without the attendent problems of finding yourself moving at the speed of sound while enjoying your engine's oomph. The ergonomics are top notch, the interior feels like it was made for you, and the driving dynamics of VWs are unparalelled in their price ranges.
If only we could have European diesel engines with higher HP/torque numbers. 180ftlb of torque can only do so much making up for 100hp. The very specific guidelines for oil in the PD engines is a detriment. The car needs a supplemental heater (corrected in the mk5 cars).
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