2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI

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

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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