The first question on everybody’s minds is probably efficiency. Although it is not the stuff of childhood dreams, it dominates the realm of commercials, billboards, and other marketing hype that gets stuffed down our throats. For those of you that don’t care, well, lucky you, but we pinch every penny, and with cars like these, the benefit of reduced consumption and emissions can be a key purchase factor.

Although they come at the problem from different ends, both aim for a goal of efficiency and practicality in a compact package. We even tried to match them up against the original hybrid, the Prius, though in its V wagon configuration, but one was not available, and frankly, it would have been at a significant power disadvantage to these two; if I were to guess (or estimate based on previous experience), it would have also been significantly more efficient.

2013 Ford C-Max
2013 VW Golf
Top: 2013 Ford C-Max. Bottom: 2013 VW Golf. Click image to enlarge.

Well, the results are in, and the TDI edged out the C-Max during our week of commuting and going about our daily routine. Both cars were driven from our home on the outskirts of the GTA to the office in Etobicoke during similar traffic conditions. There may have been some variance in route, but I split duty with my carpooling buddy in both to create as equal a playing field as possible, although I must confess that I spent more time in the C-Max, babying it as much as possible by driving it as efficiently as I could. Both also suffered the cold weather and occasional periods of idling to warm up the car for my infant son.

The Ford C-Max Fuel consumption was as low as 5.2 L/100 km on one clean commute, but finished my week at 7.2. For the life of the vehicle, trip computer was showing 7.1 with over 4,000 km clocked. Transport Canada estimates are 4.0/4.1 in city/highway driving, while the US EPA suggests 5.0 for city, highway and combined. The US EPA estimates from 63 owners is showing an average of 6.0 (with claimed high of 8.4 and low of 4.2).

The Golf Wagon TDI managed 6.6 L/100 km, and I recorded one highway drive at 4.6, while we managed 6.9 overall during the life of my long-term test, which exceeded 7,000 km at the hands of mostly the same drivers, with a lot of rush-hour commuting and no long-distance road trips to boost the numbers. Official estimates are 7.0/4.9 city/highway as per our Canadian guidelines, or 8.1/6.0/7.1 city/highway/combined according to the once-again more accurate US EPA estimates. Only two owner estimates have been posted on the US EPA, both of them under the 6.0 L/100 km highway estimate.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s a double win for the Golf Wagon TDI, achieving better performance without any particular effort on the part of the driver, and actually living up to tested and advertised consumption figures. The TDI is not a car designed to game the system and deliver its efficiency only at the regimented tests’ cruising speeds and unrealistic acceleration methods.

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