With higher prices at the pump, electrics and hybrids are grabbing all the automotive headlines. But Volkswagen hasn't jumped on the alternative energy bandwagon just yet, and instead, the German automaker has opted to retrofit its clean-diesel technology into the redesigned Golf.
The result is a 2010 Golf TDI that is stylish, comfortable, sporty and fuel efficient.
Its 2.0 liter engines puts out 140 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque, more than enough power to weave through traffic, merge onto highways, or to make up for lost time from one too many snoozes.
Volkswagen says the Golf gets 30 mpg city and 42 mpg highway for a combined 36 miles per gallon, which is roughly what I got even while sitting through rush hour traffic on the Long Island Expressway or while pushing the car's horsepower.
If shifting your own gears isn't for you, the TDI comes available with a DSG Tiptronic. This fancy transmission has a conventional automatic shifting system, coupled with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters that allow for lowering or raising the gears manually. It comes in handy when merging onto fast moving traffic or making quick lane changes.
The Golf completes the sporty ride with a suspension that hits the sweet spot. There's little body roll even through aggressive maneuvering, but it is also soft enough to drive comfortably through pothole-riddled streets.
The interior has a high quality solid feel. There is little plastic to be found, the floors are completely carpeted, and the shift knob and hand brake are leather wrapped. All controls, lights, wipers, radio controls, felt uncluttered and easy to get to.
The biggest upside of the cabin are the comfortable supportive seats that offer adjustable lumbar support. Even after long drives, my back felt relatively relaxed and soreness was minimal.
The TDI come standard with lots of extras, including fog lamps, 17-inch alloy wheels, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, a touch-screen stereo with six-disc CD changer, iPod/USB connection, Bluetooth cell phone integration and Sirius Satellite Radio. An optional GPS is also available.
Adding on features like the navigation package, sunroof and automatic transmission will add a big chunk of change to that price. The TDI already comes loaded with extras, so I recommend keeping it simple.
Like any other Golf, this TDI isn't for everyone. Trunks space is small and the rear seats are stiff. But it is ideal for young professionals who tend to put a lot of miles on the road on a daily basis.