Automatica is on the road, and travelling in a Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI Pacific. Using an incredibly fuel-efficient turbo-diesel engine, this car is rated at just 5.7l/100km. When compared to my 1996 Golf, which averages between 11–12l/100km and needs premium unleaded, this represents a pretty massive saving in fuel costs over a year. This even compares pretty favourably with something like a Toyota Prius, that uses just 3.9l/100km, especially when unleaded costs more than diesel. The TDI is also not lugging around a couple of hundred kilograms of batteries either!
It’s quite a nice drive in the 2.0 TDI, it’s not the quickest car off from a standing start, but it’s great to cruise in. In-gear acceleration is fantastic – with 320Nm of torque available it makes overtaking in traffic and on the highway effortless. The ride quality is quite good, especially for a car that’s not as sporty as the Golf VR6. The suspension is softer, but doesn’t wallow around like a boat and the car still feels quite firmly planted when cornering.
I’m still getting used to the DSG gearbox – I would normally never have chosen an automatic over a manual however Volkswagen have come through with the goods on this one. It’s actually a completely manual-style gearbox, with a clutch (well, two independent clutches really) that’s computer controlled. There’s none of the “slushiness” that’s usually associated with an auto, gear changes are amazingly quick and precise and there’s no power lost through the torque converter of a traditional auto.
The interior quality is great. Whilst there is lots of plastic, it’s good quality and fits together well. There is a titanium coloured trim going around the cabin, and the doors, which is also quite nice. A lot better than a pure chrome, and I like it more than the walnut woodgrain-look trim that the Bora MkIV had.
The leather seats are very comfortable and supportive. They have adjustable lumbar support, as well as being height adjustable on both the driver’s and passenger’s sides. The front seats are both heated too, which is fantastic for these cold winter mornings that we’re experiencing at the moment.
The rear seats are different to both the MkIII and MkIV cars that I’ve had – in both of these the rear seats lifted up, and then the backs folded down flat for stowing large items in the rear. In the MkV Golf, the seats don’t lift up, so the backs can’t fold completely flat. There is a centre armrest in the rear, which opens up completely to fit skis or other long but thin items in the rear without having to fold the seats down. The cargo space in the rear is pretty generous, but not quite (by about 20-30mm) to fit a Mac Pro box in without folding the seats down.
The list of standard equipment is great, as you’d expect for this level of the market. There’s dual-zone climate control, fog lights, 16″ alloys, 10-speaker sound system with MP3 and CD, auto wipers, auto headlamps, cruise control and keyless entry with courtesy lights for when you walk up to the car and leave it again. The one that I’ve got adds to this a leather interior, reverse parking sensors and a DSG gearbox with tiptronic operation – but no flappy paddles on the steering wheel which is probably a good thing as I’ve been banned from having them according to Nadia after our last trip to Tassie where the hired A3 had them.
All in all it’s a very well sorted car with a comfortable interior and it’s very easy to drive both on the open highway and in tight city traffic. Little Steely (as Nadia’s christened it) will be a member of the family for years to come.