This is one of the vehicles currently swept up in controversy because of VW cheating on emissions tests. Heaven knows how that will play out.
I get 39-40mpg regularly, sometimes more. The car is fast, as long as you have two seconds to wait for the turbo to spool up. Plenty of power for hill climbing in the Rocky Mountains. The sunroof is a good plus, just remember to close it when rain is coming :-). Good leg room; I'm 6'2" and don't have the driver's seat all the way back.
I'm surprised at the number of design misfeatures. Controls that are impossible to read, insufficient storage space for maps, slow seat adjusters, sound system controls that lock up when it's interacting with my phone, heater setting isn't honored upon car startup until the knob is moved (same for sunroof), if I try to close two windows at the same time, only one closes.
Oil for this engine is available only at VW dealers; do NOT use Mobil1.
Parts are expensive.
I won't dump this car, but I wouldn't buy another.
Bought a used 2012 TDI, four door, manual transmission, just as the 2015 (new model) TDI was hitting dealer lots, which made the dealer VERY motivated to unload it.
--The handling, suspension and brakes are essentially identical to the Golf GTI. Which is a very good thing.
--Acceleration, while not spectacular, is surprisingly brisk and more than enough to keep me entertained. The manual tranny is smooth and the low end torque is addicting.
--The interior layout is incredibly versatile. I can fit four adults very comfortably (even for long trips). Fold down the rear seats and the cargo area becomes cavernous.
--Fit and finish are exceptional. The seats are supportive and comfortable, although narrow. If you're very large or overweight, you may find them constricting. Interior materials are high class and feel substantial. Ignore the VW logo on the steering wheel and you will be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the TDI and an entry-level Audi.
--And of course... the fuel economy. I consistently average 44 MPG... COMBINED without making any special effort to do so. It is not uncommon for me to get 50+ MPG on the highway. I get the economy of a Prius without feeling like I'm driving a hair shirt.
--Limited interior storage. To make room for the E-brake, the armrest storage bin is small and nearly useless.
--HVAC controls are hard to read. Most cars at this price point have automatic climate control.
--Mediocre electronics. The touchscreen and audio interface, while adequate, are well behind the state of the art. The interface with my iPhone is quirky and hasn't kept up with the many ways to listen to content (Pandora, podcasts, etc). VW still doesn't have a USB port, and instead makes you use their proprietary cable to connect phone to stereo.
--Diesels don't like cold weather. It takes FOREVER for the car to warm up on very cold mornings, and the car runs pretty rough until it does. The heated seats mitigate the sting considerably, however.
The cons really are minor nits to pick. This car makes me smile every time I drive it. Can't believe I lucked into an inexpensive car that drives like an Audi with the fuel economy of a Prius.
After owning this Golf TDI car for only one month, here is what I think so far:
- 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.
- 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.
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.
I was torn between a Golf and the Ford Focus. Ultimately, the interior detail and materials sold me on the Golf.
It looks like an Audi on the inside (especially at night!). My cloth seats are comfortable and ergonomically correct. I can fit 4 adults in the car without it feeling cramped.
Currently getting approx 315 miles per tank. It's really a quality vehicle.
The only downside is that my service light has come twice in the past year that I've owned it.
The computer on the vehicle needed an update.
Although the updates are free at VW, its time consuming and annoying.
Service guy told me its like owning an iphone and there's no warning when you might get the light.
Interior is classy and looks like an Audi.
Nice stereo system.
Love the way you open the hatchback (it looks really cool and impresses people).
Cloth seats are durable and comfortable.
Service light issue!
I get that cars now have computers on them.
But the computer updates are time consuming.
Also, when the service light comes on for an update, the car doesn't drive as well.
Once I turned the car off and on (like a computer) and the service light went away and it fixed itself.
Nevertheless, I still went to the dealer to get the update.
They said its normal and its like an iphone.
So if that's not your style, I would avoid a current model VW.
He says it happens to all the cars.
Golf TDI handles well.
We don't get much rain and we don't get any snow here in Los Angeles.
In what rain I have driven in, the Golf does well with OEM Conti's.
Brakes are great, handles great.
People talk about stiff, well my other car is a Dodge Cummns truck so Golf is an improvement.
Great visibility from all windows, Bluetooth works pretty good, radio (non dyna) is good for stock.
I use my Ipod and when I want directions, I use Bluetooth to hear phone Navi (non navigation head unit).
Fun factor very high.
Fuel mileage incredible.
I don't think people understand how much power is in this little turbo diesel.
Very fun commuter car.
25K miles in 16 months.
Radio, Bluetooth, touchscreen is great.
I'm a big critter.
Heated seats great.
I haven't found too many negative things about car except little VW logo centercaps on rims have all fallen off.
I don't get it, I've own at least a dozen cars and this has never happened to anyone of them.
You won't regret this little beast.
If you miss having fun while driving buy this little Golf TDI.
Something that keeps those centercaps on rims.
What is the deal.
Why on God's green earth does the AC light and compressor come on all the time when you don't press the AC button?
Who's idea was that?
The only time this light should come on is when you want the AC on, not when moving the vent selector knob.