I bought my automatic Gold TDI in tornado red in 2011. It was my first new car. It was difficult to find as I was living in Louisiana and had to get it in Texas. This car is so much fun to drive -- and this coming from someone who doesn't particularly enjoy driving! The car has peppy pickup but it's the diesel torque (256 feet pounds of it!) that will blow you -- and other car drivers! -- away. The cabin design is fairly upscale for a moderately priced sub-compact car . . . and once "Red" (yes that's her name) turned over 40k miles, her mileage got even better (averaging 47 mpg). The driving dynamics are solid -- she hugs the road and has no list on cornering. The seats are bolstered, include a lumbar support on the driver's side, and are very comfortable.
I wish leather seats and seat memory were offered. The diesels do have one quirky thing: they warm up slowly so they feel quite "hurky jerky" for about five minutes after startup. I understand this is by design and a fuel efficiency thing.
If you are looking for a smart car that can hold her own on the highway, has great driving dynamics and will same you money at the pump, it doesn't get any better than this in this class. If you're willing to spend more, the BMW Series 3 Diesel is a plusher ride but it has a much heftier price tag.
I am writing this at a time when the diesel scandal at VW has broken. I still love my car and emissions aside, I think it's a better environmental choice than gas guzzlers. Red truly is a smoking car...and my husband loves it even more than I do.
Bought it in 2011 with 6800 miles on it. Planning on keeping it for another 5 years. Most experts recommend meticulous maintenance with VWs, which I've tried to do. No issues except for the CEL coming on a couple of times...dealer corrected at no cost. Dealer service outstanding (Bud Brown VW). My favorite car ever!
I bought this car as a CPO with 20k miles. It now has 70kmiles. It's fun to drive. The interior is comfortable and holds up well, except for the headliner. The headliner began to sag when the car was 4 years old, out of warranty & VW won't fix it. That aside I haven't had any other issues with the car, and I've been a bit rough on it at times. It's o.k. in the snow, and the range on the keyless entry is a bit weak. But overall I've been happy with the car and would buy another one.
I've driven 8 beaters in my life (trucks and cars) then a 2008 BMW 335i and then this Golf 2.5 gas, manual, 3DR hatch and this car is a solid 4.5/5. I dont write reviews but this car is so good I had to. I've owned for 2 years and it has 40k miles on it. The engine, interior, and styling make this car. Gas mileage is incredible even above sticker, I consistently get 31 mpg mixed use and I drive it hard. This car is a great value cause the comparable honda or subaru is $3-5k more. You may have costly repairs or quirky electronic issues at the 8 year/100k mark but you saved that money in the front end.
Incredible gas mileage (I drive it hard and get 31 mixed use).
The I5 2.5L is a beast.
I can be lazy and make turns in 3rd and lug right out from 800 rpm
or burn onto highways at 65mph still in second.
Interior is great with great sound system.
Bluetooth works well.
Roomy in back for adults.
the 60/40 rear seats enables me to pack it with outdoor gear and x3 adults into the mountains of CO with no issues.
Great field of vision with minimal blind spots.
-The clutch travel is extremely long and I've driven box trucks to F150s with less clutch travel.
the extreme travel can create knee and ankle fatigue.
I havent asked dealer if there are adjustments yet.
-steering is loose.
it isnt horrible, but the new electric steering motors in all new cars gives diminishes road feel.
-Car is pretty bad in the snow without snow tires.
I've lived in the NE and CO with plenty of experience.
Light weight and loose steering makes it difficult to drive in snow without snow tires.
-Paint chips easily, I think there is a recall for it.
These minor flaws cannot compare to the positives.
It's a sick car.