Test Drive: 2014 Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI Diesel volkswagen car test drives
Test Drive: 2014 Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI Diesel volkswagen car test drives
2014 Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Brendan McAleer

Ah, diesel; no other fluid is as near and dear to the automotive writer’s heart. Perhaps single malt scotch. If North American automotive scribblers had their way, there’d be a manual diesel wagon in every driveway, and a semi-running Alfa-Romeo project car in every garage.

Meanwhile in Europe, where everyone is driving diesel wagons, they probably lust after six-cylinder crossovers and full-size pickup trucks. That’s just the way these things work.

Happily, there is a manufacturer who will actually sell you a diesel wagon if you want one. Until Mazda gets their Skyactiv-D engine through whatever sort of emissions issues they’re having, Volkswagen is the only mainstream diesel manufacturer in the North American game. Sure, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW and Chevrolet all make diesels too, but the first three are shoehorned into luxury cars and the last only available in one model and trim (the Cruze).

New for 2014, the turbodiesel variant of the VW Golf Wagon is available right from a basic Trendline variant, with a starting MSRP of $26,375, which is about 15 percent more expensive than a basic Mazda CX-5 crossover. My is-the-grass-really-greener tester was a full-spec Highline model (Y’arr, would ye like some fish sticks?), and is only available in TDI trim – no gasoline engine is available.

When asked what this car was like, I immediately responded, “Great fuel economy,” and that’s what you might think the number one reason for buying this car would be. Not so, I think it’s reason number two. Thriftiness is only one part of the equation here as VW reports that folks who buy Golf Wagons in TDI trim tend to option the heck out of them.

Let’s do a little math. Assuming a 50/50 mixed-mileage operating cycle of city and highway use, converted US ratings show 6.9 L/100 km for the TDI, and 8.9 L/100 km for the 2.5L gasoline engine, both vehicles equipped with VW’s six-speed DSG transmission. Not a big savings, but start skewing towards highway driving and the turbodiesel’s relentless consistency improves. Even though the weather’s been cold, hand-measured figures over the week were very close to the EPA ratings.

With an average yearly mileage of 20,000 km, that’s 400 litres of fuel saved each year – but there are further numbers to crunch. Diesel is more expensive than gas, and my week-end fillup cost me an extra twenty cents per litre over regular-grade gasoline. With regular gas hovering around the $1.30/L mark, a theoretical $500 a year savings is whittled down to $200.

Test Drive: 2014 Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI Diesel volkswagen car test drives
2014 Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI. Click image to enlarge

Of course, there are other variables here too: fuel prices fluctuate throughout the year and sometimes diesel is the same price as gasoline, you might need to drive 30,000 km a year mostly on the highway, you could convert the car to biodiesel and brew your own fuel in the bathtub. Even so, I maintain that fuel savings aren’t the way a VW TDI keeps money in your pocket. It’s the resale value.

If you’d bought a 2010 VW TDI Golf Wagon four years ago and were now intending to trade it in on this new 2014, you’d be getting between $4,000 and $5,000 more than you would for the gasoline engine variant. These figures are pulled from a recent edition of the Canadian Black Book, and a VW dealer with a customer in mind for a used TDI wagon might even pay slightly more. The price differential to move up to TDI power in the 2014 model year is only $2,800.

Not bad, hey? Although that’s more a case for the engine, rather than the car it’s attached to, and I see the attention of the class wavering with all the facts and figures. Let’s crank this baby up.




About Brendan McAleer

Brendan McAleer is a Vancouver-based automotive writer, a member of AJAC and a ginger.