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2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Test Drives, Volkswagen

Small Diesel cars in America is something that does not mix so well in the eyes of many consumers but Volkswagen has set out to change that thinking with the new 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection… a design of a turbodiesel engine).

Diesel engines have come a long way. While diesel powered cars only make up a very small percentage of vehicles sold in the United States, upwards of 40% of all cars sold in Europe are diesel powered. A diesel car is sometimes thought of as a ‘dirty’ car in America mainly contributing to the soot that is emitted from the exhaust, but those days of a ‘dirty exhaust’ are virtually gone. Volkswagen, among other vehicle manufacturers of diesel powered vehicles, is not much different from their gasoline burning stablemates.  The gaps between the old ‘dirty’, loud diesel engines of the past and gasoline burning engines has been filled with new cars like the VW Golf TDI.

You would never really know the Golf TDI is a diesel powered vehicle unless you are actually looking for those tell-tale signs. One give-away would be the surge of torque you get at most of the engine’s low to midrange powerband. The Golf TDI’s 2.0-liter 4-cylinder clean diesel engine puts out 140hp at 4000 rpm and 236 lbs-ft of torque that comes on full at an early 1750rpm. The front-wheel-drive wheels start to beg for traction with that much torque in a compact vehicle.

Driving our Golf TDI test vehicle was always an enjoyable experience other than a somewhat grabby clutch which may be due to the characteristics of a Diesel engine. The ride was surprisingly stable at highway speeds and comfortable around town. Very characteristic of what a European car should be. Riding on modest 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 224/45/R17 tires also helped in this department.

Volkswagen introduced a new TDI Jetta over a year ago that proved to us clean diesel was a reality. It demonstrated that efficient cars did not have to be boring. Speaking of being efficient, our 2010 Golf TDI test vehicle gets 30mpg in the city and 41mpg on the highway. That’s better than a few hybrid vehicles on the market that cost almost twice as much as the Golf. With those numbers you can virtually drive for days without a fill-up. Sure the cost of Diesel is different from Gasoline, but on the good days you may be paying a significantly less price per gallon. That means less money out of your pocket for daily commutes.

Outside of the VW Golf TDI you will find the same styling that Volkswagen introduced to us for the Golf and GTI in 2009. The new sporty styling kept the same over-all cues from older variants of the Golf dating back to the 1970’s Mk1. The current model Golf/GTI is still known as a sport hatchback aka pocket rocket depending on which power plant you have under the aluminum hood. The TDI version gives you yet another option in the modern world of ‘green living’.

Inside of the VW Golf TDI you will find a very well laid out interior. Fit and finish on Volkswagen vehicles has always been above others in the same class and price range. You get a decent interior for the money you spend on a Golf. In addition, to keep that tradition going, you get a long list of standard features. Our test vehicle was optioned with a 6-speed manual transmission at no-charge which gives the driver the ability to keep the turbo diesel engine in its sweet spots for those demanding highway maneuvers. Added to the options list was a power sunroof, cold weather package, Bluetooth connectivity and a user-friendly touch screen navigation system. Although the navigation system took a while to get used to, it was rather easy to use after spending a solid 25 minutes with it. Volkswagen has several ‘hidden’ features in their electronics that you discover along the way which adds even more to the value of their vehicles.

Safety is always a prime target for Volkswagen and they didn’t miss any marks in the new Golf. You get all of the safety features as standard equipment such as driver, front passenger and side curtain airbags. To top off the typical list of standard safety features you get electronic stability control (electronic stabilization program), anti-lock brakes (ABS) and traction control (anti-slip regulation).

Practicality is also where the 2010 VW Golf TDI shines. You get the same abundance of cargo room as you do with a generation of Golf vehicles adding in a 60/40 split folding rear seat.

Reliability, 5-star safety, carefree maintenance for 3 years/36,000 miles, practicality, segment leading gas mileage, what more could you want for a starting price of $21,990? If you seek all of these elements in a solid diesel powered hatchback, then the 2010 VW Golf TDI may be for you. If you ever had any doubts about diesel powered vehicles, then you may want to give the Golf TDI a try before you let the old stereotypes of the past overtake your decision on a new car.

Copyright: 2010


Price: Base: $21,990 As-Tested $25,914
Type: Compact Coupe
Where Built: Germany
EPA Class: Compact Cars


Length: 165.4 in.
Width: 70.3 in.
Height: 58.3 in.
Wheel Base: 101.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.4 in.
Curb Weight: 2994 lbs.

Front Head Room: 39.3 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 54.7 in.
Rear Head Room: 38.5 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 52.8 in.
Front Leg Room: 41.2 in.
Rear Leg Room: 35.5 in.
Luggage Capacity: 12.4 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Base Number of Cylinders: 4
Base Engine Size: 2 liters
Base Engine Type: Inline 4
Horsepower: 140 hp
Max Horsepower: 4000 rpm
Torque: 236 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 1750 rpm
Drive Type: FWD
Turning Circle: 35.8 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 14.5 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Manual: 30 mpg / 41 mpg / 34 mpg

Range in Miles:
Manual: 435 mi. / 594.5 mi. / 493 mi.


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