As several editors have already noted, we've spent a lot of time with the latest generation VW hatchback, mostly with our Four Seasons GTI and now with this TDI. They each have their own unique advantages and trade-offs, but the most important thing one gathers is that they're both very, very good small cars. Every detail, from the bright LCD touch screens to the attractive, high quality feel to the seat upholstery -- hound's-tooth on the GTI, striped on the TDI -- is a notch above what you'll find in other cars this size. They also both drive very well. The TDI, as one would expect, is a bit more laid back than the GTI, but it's still plenty powerful and handles well. Most buyers will likely prefer to let VW's excellent dual-clutch automatic gearbox manage the diesel's narrow power band, but I actually enjoy the challenge of the manual, made easier by the precise, if somewhat notchy shifter.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor