The 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI is one of the few cars that can offer both outstanding fuel economy and great driving dynamics – unlike most hybrids. Now riding on VW’s larger Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform which underpins all the latest VW and Audi small cars, the 2015 Golf TDI offers across-the-board improvements over its predecessor: more horsepower, better fuel economy, improved ride and handling, a quieter cabin, upgraded interior quality, more interior room, a bigger trunk, improved connectivity, and improved safety.

Longer, wider and lower with a wheelbase that’s 59 mm longer than the last generation Golf hatchback, the 2015 Golf TDI has a roomier cabin with more legroom, particularly for rear passengers, and more trunk space too. Cargo volume behind the rear seats below the parcel shelf is up by almost 20 percent to 490 L. With the rear seats folded down and the parcel shelf removed, there is now 1,520 L (up from 1,299 L).

Its all-new 2.0L turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder diesel engine pumps out 150 hp from 3,500 to 4,000 rpm (up from 140 hp at 4,000 rpm) and maximum torque of 236 lb-ft from 1,750 to 3,500 rpm (from 236 lb-ft from 1,750 to 2,500 rpm). Its official NRCan fuel economy ratings of 7.7/5.2/6.2 L/100 km city/highway/combined (manual) and 7.5/5.5/6.6 (DSG automatic) are a slight improvement over the previous model’s 7.9/5.6 /6.9 (manual) and 7.9/5.7/6.9 (DSG) (adjusted for NRCan’s new 5-cycle testing methods).

With 1,721 km on the odometer of our Golf TDI tester equipped with the optional six-speed DSG, our onboard fuel economy display was showing an average 6.1 L/100 km, better than the NRCan combined rating of 6.6 L/100 km. In freeway driving, we noticed that our instant fuel economy readout was showing between 4.5 and 5.0 L/100 km, much better than the NRCan highway rating of 5.5 L/100 km. We think Golf TDI owners who do a lot of freeway driving or driving on secondary roads with few stops can probably lower their combined fuel economy by at least 1 L/100 km compared to the official rating.

Interestingly, VW chose not to include an idle-stop feature in the 2015 Golf TDI, which would have improved city fuel consumption by at least 10 percent. This feature is available in some European Golfs, but perhaps VW felt that Canadian owners wouldn’t like it, or that it would add too much to the cost.

We didn’t notice a big improvement in acceleration, but that said, the new model is still an impressive performer because of its generous torque. Though there’s a slight lag in initial throttle response (perhaps due to the DSG transmission), it’s followed by a sudden surge of power and rapid acceleration. With so much low-end torque, the Golf’s diesel engine doesn’t have to be revved very hard to accelerate up to city speeds and it powers up steep hills with little effort. Equipped with the optional six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) most shifts occur around 2,000 rpm and the engine rarely needs to rev above 3,000 rpm to keep up with the traffic. Accelerating onto the freeway, you might see 4 or 5,000 rpm, but unlike the Golf 1.8TSI that redlines at 6,000 rpm, the Golf TDI redlines at only 5,000 rpm. Cruising on the freeway at a steady 100 km/h with the DSG in top gear, the engine revs at only 1,700 rpm.

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