Photos by Sebastian Steenstra, text by Cor Steenstra
Ever since coming to America back in 1998, I had noticed the obvious lack of Diesel powered cars. There are Diesel trucks of course, but I came from Europe used to driving my Renault Espace Turbo Diesel, which offered me space, speed, comfort and fuel efficiency, so it was surprising to not find that here. Little did I know that GM had bfrought out a few Diesel powered vehicles in the early 80′s here, that were so bad and of such bad repute, that it spoiled any chance for any other Diesel powered vehicle for the next 20-30 years.
In comes VW/Audi group with a distinct set of efficient Diesel powered vehicles, and a lot of courage.
Of course I was very eager to try this out for my self, and see how it would stack up to the competition, both normally aspirated as well as the Hybrid clique. In my opinion, a Hybrid Diesel would still be a very good option, no matter where in the world you are.
The Golf Diesel TDi that we got to drive was of typical VW high built quality, tight body panels, and plenty of German in image. The interior was no different, and looking as good as we remembered it from the GTi we drove not that long ago. So the moment arrived. I started the engine. Initially the impression is that the engine is really loud, until you remember that the door is still open. Once that was taken care off, the level of engine noise in the interior was very accpetable, not too irritating, too dominant.
Driving, the VW Gold TDi can perform at different levels. You can drive it like a German taxi driver, with soft and slow roll offs, which it does in total comfort. It can also be driven like you are an Italian hot head, and it does that well as well, albeit at a much higher noise level. Somewhere in between those we found a very comfortable level of acceleration and noise that was just right.
Looking at the fuel consumption the initial impression of 35 mpg is not that great. Somehow I had expected more. Than I took it on a longer trip, using both freeway and mountain travel, and the fuel consumption still averaged the same. THAT was when I noticed the difference with most other vehicles. This is German precision, with a German precise consumtion gauge, which doesnt’ provide me with 700 mpg readings when I go downhill, but actually keeps level headed.
Overall then the fuel consumption was not great/surprising/shocking, but it was real, and didn’t require any specific tricks, extreme driving or anything else. The car also had normal luggage space and weight, in contrast to the new kids on the block. We were impressed, suitably imprssed.