Now done 21,000 miles of mixed open road and LA rush-hour traffic, this has been more fun to drive than I could ever have expected. Free dealer services at 10 and 20k, I decided to have additional oil changes at 5k intervals.
The high torque makes top gear acceleration fun.
People complain of sluggish 1st gear starts - like pulling away from a light or making a left turn across traffic. This can be partly avoided by switching briefly to S-mode, which completely changes the character of the car, but takes its toll in fuel consumption.
Mixed driving gives me an overall 39 mpg: some days commuting across LA from the San Fernando Valley to Venice I get 53 mpg.
top gear acceleration.
Road-holding - grips the road more securely than most.
DSG gearbox - it is brilliant and provides downhill slowing often with no need to manually shift down. It holds lower gears rather like a manual and saves wear on the brakes (okay - I've tried driving it with manual shifting and most of the time it's just not worth it. Six gears combined with the low shift points that the diesel engine demands make it too hard to drive manually without a clutch pedal. The DSG is set to pull in 6th gear at 1,100 revs and the shifts are often imperceptible. The computer makes better choices than I do).
turning circle - better than a London taxi.
Internal storage space limited.
The seats are narrow bucket type, and slope down at the rear - I use a Sacroease support insert to avoid back pain. Front seats definitely could be better.
We looked for the a SportWagen TDI for a while. We usually buy a 1 or 2 year old car to avoid the initial hit from driving it off the lot. There just aren't many of those out there, and those that were out there were almost as much as new. These cars tend to last, and their owners hold on to them. So we bought new.
Love getting 40mpg on the hwy, and still have room for 4 people and still carry some stuff too. The car has a lot of torque - it is really a SPORTwagen. It will spin the tires if you aren't careful.
The DSG gearbox is great. Think auto-shifting manual transmission with 2 clutches. There's no torque converter. It does drive a bit difference and takes some getting used to.
The seats don't quite seem up to the price of the car (top of the line version @ $34k). There is a small delay between hitting the gas pedal and when the car takes off. It's talked about on the TDI forums. Most seem to think it's the DSG gearbox, but other cars with DSG don't seem to have that problem. It just takes some getting used to. It's just enough for your brain to catch somethings up and want to react - especially when trying to pull out into traffic. Reacting makes the situation worse. They say it gets better, but I suspect it's more that you subconsciously alter how you drive.
This car is the "compromise" for those who want decent gas milage and a wagon without breaking the bank. Be prepared to be uncomfortable in the small, hard seats as get your 40 MPG. And it is LOUD, a noise that music can not drown out. Oh well...gotta give to get.
Bought this car because we needed something reasonably priced, great mileage, that can haul things around.
First VW we have owned, we have owned BMW, Acura, Honda.
Very happy so far with the purchase.
Excellent driving, very good mileage (over 40 mpg....), plenty big, love the manual, and the turbo diesel.