2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI

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

Edward A. Sanchez
Again, I'm skeptical. I do not dispute the positive first impression the interior materials and paint finish impart. But in my experience, VW spends money on the areas that consumers will touch and interact with on a regular basis (not necessarily a bad strategy in and of itself) but consequently, cheaps-out on behind-the-scenes or below-the-surface components and engineering. Case-in-point, the notoriously fragile window regulators on the Mk4 Golfs/Jettas. Until I'm convinced VW's inherent quality is up to the same standards as its admittedly impressive paint and interior materials, I'm not buying.

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