MPG-o-Matic 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI Review Summary: The return of the VW Golf TDI to America marks a milestone in the clean diesel revolution, as it hearkens back to times gone by. While the original diesel-powered Rabbit, ancestor of the Golf TDI, was a revered fuel-sipper during the energy crisis decades ago, the little old diesel Rabbit wasn’t praised for its abundance of power. The thoroughly modern 2010 Golf TDI, on the other hand, is both frugal at the pump and a pleasure to drive.
The front-wheel-drive 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI is offered in both three-door and five-door models. The Golf TDI’s 2.0-liter turbocharged clean diesel inline four-cylinder engine is shared with both the VW Jetta TDI and Audi A3 TDI. With common rail direct injection, an intercooler, and four valves per cylinder, the inline four produces 140 horsepower (HP) and 236 foot pounds of torque. The Golf TDI can be equipped with a six-speed DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) duel clutch automatic or six-speed manual transmission.
The EPA’s fuel economy estimates for the clean diesel VW Golf TDI are 30 city / 42 highway miles per gallon (MPG) when equipped with the automatic transmission and 30 / 41 with the manual.
We traveled more than 650 miles in our automatic-equipped United Gray Metallic review unit and easily surpassed the official mileage estimates, scoring an average of 47.3 MPG on the Interstate highway and 39.1 MPG combined in winter temperatures and mixed conditions.
Overall test period temperatures ranged from from the mid-twenties through the mid-forties. Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the mid forties. The test vehicle – equipped with the standard 17-inch alloy wheels, clad with 225/45/R17 all-season tires – was delivered with approximately 4400 miles on the odometer. (Diesel engines typically become more fuel-efficient after the break in period.)
Interstate Mileage Testing:
Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, heat on, driver seat heated, windows up: 45.4 MPG
Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, heat on, driver seat heated, windows up: 49.2 MPG
The 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI requires ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel, and is rated to accept a B5 (5%) biodiesel blend. The Golf TDI does not require exhaust after-treatment (urea) fluid.
Given the Golf TDI’s efficiency on the highway, its 14.5 gallon fuel tank provides a remarkable amount of range. This little critter is well suited to covering long distances.
The Golf TDI’s clean diesel engine delivers a delightful whoosh of acceleration throughout the powerband.
The optional DSG automatic transmission is smooth and fast and well-suited to the turbocharged common rail inline four. The DSG’s Tiptronic mode allows full control over gear changes from both the slapstick and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
This little critter hustles from corner to corner with composure and is a driver’s delight, with plenty of power and cornering ability on tap. Saving fuel has never been this much fun.
The standard Multi Function trip-computer provides trip meters, range to empty, average fuel consumption, and real-time mile per gallon info, among other data. We always recommend driving with the real time MPG gauge active, to develop a light footed driving technique.
The Golf TDI’s three-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel is a pleasure to grip, with excellent integrated controls for the data displays and audio system. Hands-free Bluetooth support is optional.
USB iPod support is standard (along with an auxiliary audio input). The USB interface is located in the center console. Artists, Albums, and Playlists are accessible from the audio system’s touchscreen interface. Our test unit was equipped with the Navigation system (with a 30GB hard drive) and 300W Dynaudio speaker system options. A eight-speaker system is standard.
There are two twelve-volt outlets: one at the base of the dash and one in the cargo area.
The eight-way-adjustible cloth seats are quite supportive. (A leather interior is not currently available in the TDI.) Manual lumbar support is standard. The optional Cold Weather package provides heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles. The seat heaters allow for two levels of adjustment.
The rear seat is comfortable for two, with adequate headroom.
The Golf’s cargo area provides 12.4 cubic feet of storage with the 60/40 rear seats up and sufficient space for larger items with the seats folded down. A rear seat center passthrough accommodates both skis and snowboards.
Our test unit was also equipped with the optional power sunroof and Xenon headlamps with adaptive front-lighting (AFS).
In real-world testing, we found the Golf TDI to be the most fuel-efficient and fun to drive of VW/Audi’s trio of 2.0-liter TDIs. There are a number of likely reasons as to why our testing showed the Golf TDI to be slightly more fuel-efficient than the Audi A3 TDI and Jetta Sportwagen TDI, despite identical engines and similar EPA ratings.
We’ll chalk it up to weight, aerodynamics, and gearing.
The automatic transmission-equipped 2010 Golf TDI weighs in at 3,041 pounds. The automatic Audi A3 is significantly heavier, at 3318 pounds. The Golf TDI is also a tiny bit more aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient of .32, compared to the A3 TDI’s drag coefficient of .33. We tested the heavier Jetta Sportwagen TDI under slightly warmer conditions and – despite it being slightly more slippery (with a drag coefficient of .31) – could not match the results of the Golf TDI.
All-in-all, the 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI delivers a shot across the bow of the hybrids by delivering excellent fuel economy in a versatile and fun-to-drive package. If you love to drive and hate to waste money at the pump, this little critter hits all the marks.
Parts Content Information
US/Canadian Parts Content: 1%
Major Sources of Foreign Parts Content: Germany – 75%
Final Assembly Point: Wolfsburg, Germany
Country of Origin:
Engine – Hungary
Transmission – Germany
– by Daniel Gray
March 13th, 2010
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