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2012 Volkswagen Golf Diesel 2.0L TDI 4dr Hatchback w/Tech Package (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)
Of course, you've heard of the dieselgate scandal. Perhaps you have not heard about the failure of the high pressure fuel pump that had been under federal investigation. Regardless, I'm caught in the middle of accepting the buyback of $15,000+ OR keeping the car, getting it fixed on VW's dollar, and pocketing the settlement of $5,000. I bought the vehicle because of its mix of performance and fuel efficiency and because I have an affinity towards hatchbacks. Why a hatchback? Because I frequently transport stuff: lawn mower, weed wacker, leaf blower, furniture, etc. If I sold it back, what would I buy that met these needs? A Prius? Someone online commented that the Prius performance is similar to pushing a grocery shopping cart; however, fuel efficiency is great. A Mazda 3? There's a slight chance but probably not. I have 128K miles on this VW with only minor issues to report: horn wouldn't work early on. That's been fixed. Lately and very rarely, I've noticed I'll be driving down the road and the sunroof will open. It's a little freaky but it's happened about 3 times total and it doesn't open all the way, just to the first level. The Bi-Xenon / adaptive headlights are powerful. Dynaudio is a pleasure to listen to. I use the navigation all of the time and it's ok. The leather wrap-around steering wheel is comfortable to hold. My biggest complaint would be that the front seat could be more comfortable since there's little lumbar support and the headrest is in an awkward position. However, the front seats sort of wrap around your sides keeping you in place. This car is awesome and I'm worried that any car I buy to replace it will be a disappointment. Besides, I can see this car going way over 250K miles. What car would I buy could do that? My fuel efficiency is less than most other TDI drivers because I admit, there are times when I "need" to pass or get through or by drivers that are "in my way". This car moves quickly when needed and it's truly what makes it a joy to drive. At excessively high speeds it handles like a charm - no shaking, no rattling, and tight steering.
2012 Volkswagen Golf Diesel 2.0L TDI 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6M)
Now that I am in the middle of wondering what will happen to VW over the "scandal", I would not trade, sell, nor return my car (even for a refund of full purchase price). It has been a stellar car and, even if green-weenies get their panties in a wad over the "scandal", I would keep it, drive it until the "wheels fall off" (likely to be far in excess of 250,000 miles. Excellent mileage, decent comfort, a real towing ability.
2012 Volkswagen Golf Diesel 2.0L TDI 4dr Hatchback w/Sunroof, Navigation (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)
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 35-40mpg regularly. 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. Radio is impossible to understand. Navigation system is poor, I don't use it.
Oil for this engine is available only at VW dealers; do NOT use Mobil1. I paid $60 for just the oil and filter for one oil change.
Parts are expensive.
I won't dump this car, but I wouldn't buy another.
Update Nov. 2016: nothing changed, these views still stand.
2012 Volkswagen Golf Diesel 2.0L TDI 2dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)
As annoyed as I am at VW for lying about its "clean diesel" technology, I still love this car.
--The handling, suspension and brakes are nearly identical to the Golf GTI. This is a very good thing.
--Acceleration, while not spectacular, is plenty brisk and more than enough to keep me entertained. You have to drive a little differently than a gas engine; all of the "fun" happens below 2500 RPM, which necessitates lots of upshifting. Thankfully, the manual transmission is precise and linear.
--The interior layout is incredibly versatile. My two teenagers fit comfortably in the back (even on long trips). With the rear seats down, the cargo area becomes cavernous.
--Fit and finish are exceptional. Interior materials are high class and feel substantial. Ignore the VW logo on the steering wheel and you will be hard-pressed to differentiate the TDI from an entry-level Audi.
--And of course... the fuel economy. I consistently average 44 MPG... COMBINED without making any special effort to do so. Tank range is almost 600 miles; my bladder gives out long before my fuel supply does. I suspect that the environmental damage that I'm causing by spewing nitrogen oxides is at least offset by the reduction in CO2 emissions.
--Limited interior storage. To make room for the E-brake, the armrest storage bin is small and nearly useless.
--The HVAC controls are almost impossible to read from the driver's seat, which is a stupid ergonomic mistake. Anyhow, most cars at this price point have 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 temperamental and hasn't kept up with the many ways to listen to content (Spotify, podcasts, etc). The absence of a USB port (Until 2016, VW required a proprietary cable) is particularly annoying.
--The driver's seats are weirdly articulated for my long torso, hunching me forward even with the lumbar cranked all the way up. I was able to fix this by removing the seats and stuffing a foam pad under the upholstery (about 45 minutes per seat). Now the seats are just about perfect.
--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.
I actually hope that I don't have to sell this car back to VW. I would be perfectly happy driving this baby until the wheels fall off.
2012 Volkswagen Golf Diesel 2.0L TDI 4dr Hatchback (2.0L 4cyl Turbodiesel 6AM)
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.