As small cars go, it's pretty hard to beat the Volkswagen Golf. And the addition of a turbo-diesel engine to the options list makes it that much more enticing. I'm not going to say that I prefer driving the TDI to the GTI, but if I were trying to decide between buying one or the other, it would be very tempting to sign up for the four-door TDI, with its $1300 cheaper price and much-improved fuel economy (30/41 mpg city/highway versus 21/31 mpg for the GTI).
The Golf TDI offers a smooth ride ("soft" when compared with the GTI), but the Golf is still a reasonably willing dance partner on curvy back roads. The turbo-diesel engine offers plenty of passing power, too, so long as you work that pleasant manual gearbox (which, I agree with my colleagues, seems to be better calibrated here than in our Four Seasons Jetta TDI). I managed to average an indicated 38 mpg on my non-highway commute, without really trying hard. Not bad!
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor