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It's been about six weeks since I purchased my 2010 Golf TDI. It's a 4-door, manual transmission in Candy White. The options are Dynaudio, Cold Weather, Bi-Xenons, Bluetooth, and Golf Protection Pkg (mudguards, cargo net, rubber mats, trunk mat).

Why did I get a Golf TDI?

My 07 Honda Civic LX coupe lease had ended. For my next car, I was looking for something that was fuel efficient (I averaged around 30 mpg, mostly city, in the Civic), fun to drive (manual transmission a must), and a bit more refined than the Civic (smooth but loud, and hard plastics all around). I originally looked at the GTI. The GTI promised decent fuel economy and was highly acclaimed as a fun "real world" car. I enjoyed my GTI test drive, but I was underwhelmed by the fuel economy, requirement for premium gas, and potential jump in insurance costs (even for me, a 34-year-old married male with a clean record).

I started reading up about the TDI, which was supposedly spec'd out almost as sportily(?) as the GTI. What appealed to me was the great fuel economy (I did the gas vs. diesel math and it worked out in the diesel's favor) and promise of down-low torque (so it wouldn't feel slow) atop the GTI suspension and tires. Also, insurance didn't differ at all from the Civic.

All my previous cars were Japanese--so I was accustomed to not having many reliability issues. I was apprehensive, therefore, about buying a VW--but Consumer Reports ranked the MkV Golf highly in terms of reliability (even though other VW models weren't). Plus, I had read about the longevity of diesels in general, and high resale values. These factors were enough to convince me, warily, to take the plunge. I paid MSRP, btw.

Things I like about the TDI
Immediately, I noticed the solidity of this car. It's very muted, even on rough roads, much more solid-feeling and sounding than my Civic (or even my other car, Mazda6, for that matter). Everything in this car is rigid and substantial, from the way the doors leap into their detents (have to use more pull to open a door, otherwise it will slam back shut in your face!), to the solid thunk of each gearshift.

The interior is also of very high quality. Almost every surface you can see is more than just plastic: the dash top is padded, the door materials are either padded cloth or soft-touch painted, the radio bezels are piano black or soft-touch, dials are rubberized, just the right amount of silver accents, compartments are lined with flocking or rubber...you wouldn't find this in a $30K Japanese car. The only chintzy bits are the HVAC controls (slightly wobbly with a plastic feeling). The interior door handles do an amazing imitation of machined metal. Even all the detailed bits on the steering wheel are great!

The audio system sounds great. Clear, loud, thumpy when necessary...it helps that the overall car is so quiet inside that you can enjoy more of the audio without excess road or wind noise.

Things I have not liked
Just a list--these are things that are not deal breakers, not even complaints really, but perhaps annoyances that make you wonder why they were designed that way:
-iPod MDI interface--it's slow and skips the first second of each song. I gave up on it, and just use the SD card slot (sweet!).
-I wish the radio would turn on if you hit the FM, AM, or SAT buttons. Currently you must hit POWER first, then select your mode.
-I wish you didn't need VCDS to adjust all the options (potentially) available to you.
-I wish there was a way to shut off the engine without killing the radio. Sure, you just have to hit POWER again, but most other cars I know don't do that.
-Cloth on the door and center armrests seems to pick up discolorations easily. It gets whitish, as if dusty, but it's not dust. Perhaps lotion from arms resting on it? It's not that easy to clean, in any case.
-Roof water channels aren't deep enough. Water on the roof will dump into the windows very easily. I waxed the car, and after a rainstorm, I open the door to enter, and just as I'm sitting down, I get dumped on. Or, if your window is open even just a little, water will pour in as you're making a turn. Gets all over the armrest and even the switchgear.
-After a rainstorm or car wash, the doors seems to collect and hold water until you open them. Then they pee out of their little drain holes. Kind of embarassing.



Driving

The diesel is wonderful. I know I'm getting great mileage, but not at the cost of having to wring out all the power at high rpms. The torquey pull down low is actually more fun and enough that I can enjoy accelerating from each stop and around corners more often, rather than waiting for a straightaway that I can then get into the the high rpms (make sense?). The car does need a LOT of foot when accelerating on an incline, or it will stall (usually just when the red turns green). But I have no complaints about the engine and have gotten used to it quickly.

Shifting is solid--slightly heavy, but it's much better than the Civic was (which felt like Fisher-Price). The trick to a smooth 1st-gear takeoff is modulating the clutch pedal to compensate for the sudden boost you get at 2k rpm from the turbo. I mean, at first your revs increase slowly due to the "NA" part of the engine, and as soon as you start engaging the clutch, WHOOSH! So you have to adjust your engagement rate. Er, whatever. Anyway, I like the gearing, and love spinning under 2000 rpm at 75 mph on the highway.

The steering is definitely on the slower and heavy side. Slow, means a lower steering ratio (takes more rotation of the steering wheel to turn at sharper angles). I would have preferred a faster ratio in keeping with the "sporty" theme of the car.

I am a bit disappointed in the braking. Under moderate to hard braking, the pedal just keeps going down, all the way to the floor. The car stops solidly, but I find myself using more leg force (and pedal travel) than I'm used to. Mind you, these are not panic stops, but strong stops--I have to remember not to panic because the car doesn't stop as quickly as I'd like. Road and Track's long-term Jetta did the same thing, and they mused about calipers flexing. I wonder if the GTI also feels like this?

A word about reliability
I did get hit with limp-home mode once. I was on the highway and suddenly the chime, the message ("Service Engine Now!"), and slowdown. Very scary. A cycling of the key reset the car, but this did not help my trust in the VW's reliability. A visit to the dealer showed an "EGR Vacuum Regulator" fault--VW is awaiting a reflash (June-ish). Nevertheless, I cannot say my car is bulletproof now, nor can I even take its operation for granted. Sure, we have a warranty (3/36 is pretty weak, though) but having to take your car in for service is a cost of time and convenience.

On the other hand, I forced myself to stop reading threads about failure of the HPFP. It's just too much to fret about. I'm just keeping all my fuel receipts, that's all.

Overall
I'm very happy with my car. It's fun to drive, novel, and the fuel mileage is satisfying. I can't say I'm 100% at ease when I'm driving (because of my limp-home mode experience) but maybe that will subside after a while. I love all the upscale features (HIDs with AFS, upgraded audio, MFD) and high-quality interior in a car this size--meaning, I didn't have to spend $40K on a BMW or Infiniti just to feel like I wasn't driving a plastic cost-cutter.

For $25K, this is definitely one of the best values and most unique cars in its class! Sure, many Americans will never warm to paying that much for A HATCHBACK...they're missing out if they don't give the TDI a look.
 

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Welcome to VW and thanks for the review! There are a few problems but people seem to like the cars. I wish they just reduced power in limp mode somewhat but that's a byproduct of turbocharging. I haven't logged boost during limp mode but I believe it's almost all dumped.

The braking thing could be from a few things. At a stoplight, press hard on the brake pedal. Some pedals will slowly sink to the floor even though braking is fine. If that is the case it's not a flexing caliper. A few cases were linked to a leaking brake master cylinder but some people believe it's linked to the ABS pump since new master cylinders made no difference. You could lodge a complaint with the dealer and see if it makes a difference since this should be a warranty issue.
 

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Great review. Looking around I see there are some reliability problems which scares me from VW. The limp mode sounds scary. What if you're passing someone and suddenly get no power?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
yeah, you just turn the car off and then on again. like a reboot. wasn't there an old "if Microsoft made cars" joke email that went around a while back? it would be like that.
 

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Great real world review :)
 

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Just got my TDI Golf this Saturday so I don't have many miles on it yet. Trying to find my way around the little quirks this car has. Didn't know about turning the radio back on, that is good to know.

Guess I will have to search on limp mode or whatever that one is. I did encounter the stalling problem, but I also have stalled this car more times in two days than I did in all my other previous cars. Mostly because I am so used to being able to start out in second on a flat surface but the diesel sometimes decides to drop and I have to quickly restart it.

How has clutch reliability been on these cars?


One thing I did note I do not like, I have the four door and I noticed booming when the windows are in certain positions and definite air strongly on the side of my face. Have to play with window positions to minimize it, but coming off a Miata I like the air regardless of temperature.

PS: What are good sites for accessories/etc
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I forgot to mention that in my review too--but when the rear windows are down, even just an inch or so, wind buffeting inside the cabin is strong. I usually just open one or both of the front windows a bit and it goes away.

And regarding the "soft" brake pedal, I think it's a characteristic of the car more than a defect. It's not as if I step on the brake to stop, and the pedal continues to sink to the floor. It's more like, "max" braking position is really near the floor. In my previous cars, if I stepped on the brake to the floor while driving, I'd probably leave a few marks on the pavement. In this car, you need to get that pedal to the floor in order to have a strong stop.

Again, I'd have to compare it with a GTI to see if the brake components are the culprit here.
 

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Yes, all VWs are like that, you get a booming air resonating when the windows are at certain positions. It's noticeable in the eas. Someone commented that theythought they were having a panic attack in the car and got a co2 meter. http://www.myturbodiesel.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2567 It's possible they were experiencing a symptom of having their ear pounded causing some kind of inner ear problem.

Accessories
http://www.drivergear.vw.com/vw08/
http://www.ecstuning.com/
http://www.tmtuning.com/
http://oemplus.com/

Tdispecific parts
http://www.kermatdi.com/servlet/StoreFront
http://www.idparts.com/
http://www.dieselgeek.com/servlet/StoreFront

OEM parts
http://www.worldimpex.com/
http://www.1stvwparts.com/

I've never put these in a links section because they are linked through applicable writeups.
 

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Same thing with the wind buffeting issue on my jetta when I open the sun roof. Got to crack a window open or else there is hell to pay.
 

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Similar "issues" with Jetta

Most of your annoyances are things I share with my Jetta. It always makes you wonder how they can engineer such a satisfying vehicle in so many ways yet fall short with these little things. The water issue and stereo seem like no-brainers to me.

Oh well.

Like you say, not enough to keep you from loving the car, but definitely makes you wonder.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Things I have not liked
Just a list--these are things that are not deal breakers, not even complaints really, but perhaps annoyances that make you wonder why they were designed that way:
-iPod MDI interface--it's slow and skips the first second of each song. I gave up on it, and just use the SD card slot (sweet!).
-I wish the radio would turn on if you hit the FM, AM, or SAT buttons. Currently you must hit POWER first, then select your mode.
-I wish you didn't need VCDS to adjust all the options (potentially) available to you.
-I wish there was a way to shut off the engine without killing the radio. Sure, you just have to hit POWER again, but most other cars I know don't do that.
-Cloth on the door and center armrests seems to pick up discolorations easily. It gets whitish, as if dusty, but it's not dust. Perhaps lotion from arms resting on it? It's not that easy to clean, in any case.
-Roof water channels aren't deep enough. Water on the roof will dump into the windows very easily. I waxed the car, and after a rainstorm, I open the door to enter, and just as I'm sitting down, I get dumped on. Or, if your window is open even just a little, water will pour in as you're making a turn. Gets all over the armrest and even the switchgear.
-After a rainstorm or car wash, the doors seems to collect and hold water until you open them. Then they pee out of their little drain holes. Kind of embarassing.
 

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I have 7k miles on my Golf manual TDI.
I had no issue whatsoever so far, however I agree on most of the complaint listed.

If I may add a few
- the trunk depth is less than the MK4
- My best tank so far as been 49.5mpg, my old TDI with a zillion miles hovered at 53 with some 57 and a 59
- I just could not find a manual with Dynaudio and Xenon.

I love the SD card interface, the 6 speed and the torque.
 

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Yeah, I put money down in March and will be taking delivery in September. But at least I know I'm getting exactly what I want and am not settling like I did the last time.
6 month wait for a TDI? Wow... The most I've heard is 4 months..
 

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6 month wait for a TDI? Wow... The most I've heard is 4 months..
I think the dealership had received their quota of TDIs for the year, plus finding one with all of the options/configuration I wanted made it even more difficult. I figured good things come to those that wait. Plus, this way, I'm getting a 2011 instead of a 2010. I'm missing out on some of the tax incentive since I'll be taking delivery after the end of July, but I'll live.
 

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6 month wait for a TDI? Wow... The most I've heard is 4 months..
Yeah, I put money down in March and will be taking delivery in September. But at least I know I'm getting exactly what I want and am not settling like I did the last time.
I think the dealership had received their quota of TDIs for the year, plus finding one with all of the options/configuration I wanted made it even more difficult. I figured good things come to those that wait. Plus, this way, I'm getting a 2011 instead of a 2010. I'm missing out on some of the tax incentive since I'll be taking delivery after the end of July, but I'll live.
True... The local dealer I get my cars from here is rather large so wait times might be more like 3 months here.

I too am like you when saying "wait to get what you really want"

I want a TDI Golf made to order with a target delivery date of late December/Jan 2011.

This is my config ready to hit the factory system as soon as I go to the dealer in Sept/Oct.

Golf TDI 2.0l 6-speed Manual - $23,435 / 2010 $22,959
B4B4 - Candy White $0 / 2010 $0
KA - Titan Black Sport Cloth Seats $0 / 2010 $0
4X4 - Rear Side Airbags Available - $350 / 2010 $350
3FE - Power Sunroof — power tilting & sliding - $1,000 / 2010 $1,000
9W7 - Bluetooth® Connectivity Forced on all TDI’s by Corporate - $295 / 2010 $295
W79 - Cold Weather Package — heated front seats & front washer nozzles - $225 / 2010 $225
P83 - Xenon Headlamps w/ AFS - $700 / 2010 $700
9VE - Dynaudio® Advanced Sound — 300W - $476 / 2010 $476
P71 - Navigation Package — RNS 315 navigation system - $590 / 2010 $1,750

2011 Total: $27,071
 
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