Well it's officially a done deal. I am currently the owner of a 2012 Golf TDI Highline. Which is, one of the best cars Volkswagen Makes that's brought into North America. It's far beyond anything I can afford, but it is very practical for my lifestyle which is: excessive driving. My car was ordered straight from Germany, and it was due to arrive on the 19th of December—unfortunately that's not how it planned out. It actually arrived on the 6th, and I was driving it by the 8th. The car had 14 km's on the odometer when I first stepped in it, and it was wrapped from top to bottom with shipping foam. After driving it for a week or so I would like to go over a few things regarding this vehicle, and explain what makes this vehicle so special.
What's a Golf?
Outside of being the worlds most popular drinking game. The Golf is Volkswagen's premiere hatchback vehicle. I call it "Premiere" because, in my opinion it is the best car in the fleet. It's the third best-selling car in the entire world, and the most popular in all other of Volkswagen's vehicles.
TDI stands for Turbocharged Direct Injection and is Volkswagen's Exclusive Diesel engine.
This car is really expensive, I don't need to stretch the truth. If you visit any review online about the Golf it is marginally more costly then any other vehicle in it's class. Why the additional cost? Well unfortunately people who do car reviews don't convey the concept of vehicle quality. It's impossible to explain the importance of build quality over blog or a video review, but I disagree. Have you ever been in a car that just feels like a piece of plastic? Kind of like a PowerWheels vehicle that your kids might have? Well the Golf is more expensive because of that, it's well insulated and a very quiet vehicle that retains it's cabin temperature very well—and overall not cheap feeling.
The Golf also has an amazing history record, as does all Volkswagen vehicles. This is a reason why most Volkswagen vehicles are so much more expensive then it's competitors. Owning a Volkswagen is like owning a suit of foam… and a motorcycle helmet. You wouldn't think that matters, but if you're like me and have gone your entire driving career without an accident (and are statistically due for one soon), then you might want to think about it.
To be honest though, I don't really care much for safety. It's great to not have to worry about dying but the nicest thing about this car is the fact that it has an SD card reader, satellite navigation system, TONS of legroom, great fuel economy and a tight steering radius. The satnav system is an additional cost, but I believe it should be standard in all vehicles. Using phone gps, or an external gps is really inferior and adds an annoying distraction while driving.
Something I learned in the midst of purchasing this vehicle is that it has the same, (EPA rated) poorer fuel economy then my 2000 Jetta TDI. The difference in L/100km isn't much though, only about 0.5, which might change once the engine is broken-in. The Golf has a 6-speed manual transmission, it is more aerodynamic and is made of light-weight materials that extend the range. Unfortunately the Golf does weigh more then the Jetta because of all the electronic equipment that is considered standard in today's vehicle (touch-screen radio, leather interior). Also I have to consider that it is winter, and there is a loss of fuel economy due to the lower temperature. Most people would be happy with getting 850kms to a tank, but it's really hard coming from a car that is very similar and expecting more from something that's new. One crucial factor to having poorer fuel economy is the psychological aspect of driving a car such as this. In my MKIV Jetta if I pushed down the pedal it didn't really accelerate, and I learned to live with having a slow car. In the Golf accelerating is a natural component of driving, and it does so very well. It takes a lot of "getting-used-to" to learn to drive economically with such a speedy car.
The Golf is the same size as my 2000 Jetta—actually the Golf is a few cubic inches bigger. But the Golf doesn't have a trunk, so where'd that extra space go? I'll give you two guesses and it's not the hood. There is so much room in the cabin, I could literally set up a card table and deal a few hands of Euchre. Quite often people associate a hatchback with insufficient cargo space, but if you think about it, how often do you really need to fill the car up with people and luggage? When I owned a sedan I often found my trunk littered with useless junk that never seemed to find it's way back to my apartment. Almost always I am either: A) Hauling something, or B) Hauling people. Never both at the same time. Despite what most families or new mothers are thinking, I recommend this car for transporting the kids around.
I am a pretty big nerd, and I value my collection of antique computers and Star Wars figurines. And so, most expect that my car be ridden with computers and electronics—now I can deliver on peoples expectations. The greatest feature on this car is the MFI (Multi-Functional Indicator), which is a monochromatic LCD screen located at the center of the instrument panel and displays all the information you could ever want. And more importantly—which was poorly executed in the Honda Civic, and Fiat 500—it is displayed in a clear and thoughtful manner. The MFI has the information in smart places and does not overload you with things that are irrelevant. There is also buttons on the steering wheel which allows you to change the data displayed. I frequently switch between my L/100kms, and the song playing on my SD Card (since the center console is usually occupied by the SatNav display). The center console has a good touch screen LCD screen, however I see room for improvement. The touch screen capability is pretty limited and is nowhere near intuitive as my smart phone is. In fact I find myself using the dials to navigate the menus instead of the touch screen, just because it seems faster. Also the SD Card reader on the 2012 Golf TDI Highline is limited to 32GB—which may seem like enough, but it doesn't seem very modern as the car will definitely outlive the technology, and I expect VW to accommodate for that. This may seem like a stretch, but it would be nice if the radio supported .FLAC files… but I know that might be asking for a bit much.
I am completely satisfied with this car, but all things considering, I would have to be a lunatic to not be satisfied. It's the best that Volkswagen can make. I have driven the Focus, Yaris and the Mazda3 Sport and all of which are excellent cars—but don't seem to have the same "feel" as the Golf. I did commit financial suicide, and if Gail vaz Oxlade finds out; i'm definitely in for a lot of trouble. If you can swallow the price tag though, I definitely recommend this car to pretty much anyone. I will be breaking-in this car over the next few weeks, on which I will be taking a road trip to Florida.. so unfortunately this won't be the end of my "New Car Buying" experience and there will be more adventures to come!