Odometer at pick-up (TDI): 4,072 km
Odometer current: 4,661 km (589 km by Autos.ca)
Observed Fuel Consumption: 6.3 L/100 km
Fuel costs (TDI): $40.67
Fuel costs (Total): $285.65

We’ve completed our first switch and have moved into our four weeks with Volkswagen’s efficiency champion, the 2015 Golf TDI Clean Diesel. Not only is it an efficiency upgrade, it is also a trim upgrade that gives it a slightly different dynamic character, though it is, perhaps, at odds with its mission.

No doubt, however, that our scrutiny will be on its efficiency first and foremost, the Golf TDI promising 7.5 L/100 km in city driving and 5.5 on the highway, as equipped in Highline trim with DSG. Frankly, someone serious about efficient performance could best those rather easily.

In almost two weeks of mostly city driving, needing only one tank that covered almost 600 km, primarily commuting from the burbs into the office in moderate pace slow-and-go traffic, we are sitting in the middle at 6.3 L/100 km (don’t forget winter tires, winter gas and cold temperatures). For superior highway efficiency, but a slight penalty in city driving, the manual-transmission-equipped TDI is rated at 7.7/5.2, and it features six speeds, one more than the 1.8T Comfortline manual that we just sampled. That combination is rated at 9.3/6.4, and we landed at 8.1 after 3,000+ km with a large chunk of that steady highway cruising.

As mentioned in our Introduction to the long-term test, the base Trendline TDI is a steep premium at  $3,100 over the base 1.8TSI gasoline powerplant, adding up to $23,095 with only fog lights and an extra gear in the manual transmission thrown in as added perks. Additionally, TDI models sacrifice the independent rear suspension for a torsion beam axle that compromises handling and agility, but is necessary for the diesel’s exhaust treatment to make it emissions compliant.

In automatic-equipped models (extra $1,400), some will appreciate the more modern dual-clutch DSG in concept, but our experience is that the traditional torque-converter automatic in 1.8T gasoline models is smoother, particularly at low speeds. Even my wife noted about the TDI, “The transmission is lurchy,” both at parking speeds and when crawling along at 20-60 km/h in rush-hour traffic.

In Comfortline trim, the TDI rings in at $25,395, only a $2,500 surcharge over the gasoline equivalent, with nothing but those same suspension and transmission differences over the 1.8T. Highline TDIs demand the same premium, costing $30,995 before tacking on the ubiquitous $1,395 Freight & PDI that applies to all trims and models. Our Highline TDI also had the box for the $2,195 Multimedia package ticked, so it was truly fully loaded with amenities such as navigation, 400-watt Fender audio system with subwoofer, adaptive bi-xenon lights with LED DRL signatures.

For detailed features at each trim level and various equipment packages with each trim, start with our Arrival entry or visit vw.ca, which has some cool model comparison tools and a swift and painless configure tool, which can’t be said of some other German brands’ configuration tools.

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