2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI Clean Diesel: 5 Things You Need To Know

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2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI

2011 Volkswagen Golf TDI

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Volkswagen is one of the few automakers to have consistently produced diesel-powered cars for the U.S. market. In fact, we told you last week that a 1974-1983 diesel VW Rabbit was still one of the most fuel-efficient classic cars you could buy

Its direct descendant -- the 2012 VW Golf TDI Clean Diesel -- is one of the best diesel cars on the market today, but with many consumers uneducated about clean diesel technology it is often ignored by new car buyers. 

To help you decide if it should be among your list of cars to try, here are five things we think you need to know about the 2012 VW Golf TDI Clean Diesel

Price, options

The 2012 VW Golf TDI Clean Diesel is available as both a two-door compact-class hatchback and a four-door compact-classhatchback. 

Starting at $23,995 for the base 2-door model  married to a 6-speed manual transmission and rising to $29,165 for a 4-door model with technology package and 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic transmission, the 2012 VW Golf TDI isn’t cheap. 

For comparison, the mid-sized 2012 Toyota Prius starts at $23,520, the subcompact 2012 Honda Insight starts at $18,200, while the compact 2012 Honda Civic Hybrid weighs in at $24,050


2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI Clean Diesel

2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI Clean Diesel

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With a 2-liter engine developing 140 horsepower and up to 236 pound-feet of torque, the 2012 VW Golf TDI Clean Diesel can get to 60 mph in an acceptable 8.6 seconds. faster than the comparable hybrid competition. 

Thanks to VW’s DSG, the automatic version of the 2012 Golf TDI is just as sprightly as the manual version, shifting gears much faster than traditional automatic gearboxes as well as eliminating the power losses found in a traditional fluid automatic gearbox. 

Economy, cost

Both manual and automatic versions of the 2012 Golf TDI feature a high sixth gear, lowering engine speed and giving it a relaxed feel on freeways. The sixth gear is also responsible for the car’s long-legged highway EPA rating of 42 mpg -- although the EPA's previous testing of diesel VWs tends to underestimate true fuel economy.  

Around town, fuel economy drops to just 30 mpg -- making it far less economical than a hybrid or electric car for urban driving. 

And with diesel costing on average 23¢ more a gallon than gasoline, you’ll be spending more at the gas station than a Toyota Prius, Honda Insight or Honda Civic Hybrid owner would, although trips to the gas-station will be pretty infrequent thanks to a 14.5 gallon fuel tank and estimated range of well over 600 miles.

Towing possible

While the 2012 VW Golf TDI Clean Diesel may not win when over other cars on pure fuel economy, it can do one thing that isn’t officially supported by any hybrid automaker: Tow

With a 1,000 pound towing capacity and a torquey engine, the 2012 Golf TDI Clean Diesel is a great choice for anyone wanting to take a camping trailer or even something larger on regular trips. 

And while towing is technically possible with cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius Hybrid, it isn’t officially approved and may not be covered under warranty if anything goes wrong. 

Filling up

2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI Clean Diesel

2012 Volkswagen Golf TDI Clean Diesel

Enlarge Photo

Like other diesels, it is technically possible to buy a modification kit to allow the 2012 VW Golf TDI CleanDiesel to run on refined biodiesel. However, Volkswagen does not approve the use of diesel fuel that contains more than 7% biofuel in the Golf TDI, so if you want to experiment with B30 or 100% Biofuel it will be at your own risk and will probably invalidate your car’s warranty. 

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Comments (19)
  1. Doesn't this car have a Urea cansister that has to be changed after so many miles? That probably should have been mentioned in your article.

  2. The only TDI model that is currently using the AdBlue tech (urea injection) is the Passat TDI. All other models do not include it

  3. No. The Golf TDI Clean Diesel and the Jetta TDI Clean Diesel do not require urea injection to satisfy emissions regulations. Thank you for identifying a common misconception.

  4. Sorry. You are wrong. I own the 2010 Jetta TDi Sportwagen and the TDi Cup Edition sedan. Urea is used to control NOx production and to satisfy environmental regulations. It does need to be recharged at intervals and fortunately both of our diesels are maintenance free for 3 years.

  5. I respectfully suggest that you re-read your Owner's Manual(s) and/or Maintenance Schedule(s). The Touareg TDI is the only Volkswagen available in North America that uses urea injection to assist with controlling exhaust emissions. Again, thank you for identifying a common misconception with respect to the 2.0L TDI.

  6. There are more comments in this thread
  7. What this article didn't mention is the fun factor. Like many other German cars, the Golf TDI has the classic bank-vault rigidity we expect in German cars. Its taut handling means that it's as confidant doing 80 MPH on the interstate as it is navigating potholes around town. And Volkswagen's legendary durability is part of the reason these cars have a cult-like following; it's not difficult to find people with 10, 20 and even 30 year old Volkswagen diesel cars that still provide reliable service. If you're a long-term car buyer that wants to drive it until the proverbial wheels fall off, it's tough to beat these cars. Still don't believe me? Look at the ridiculously high resale value ... those numbers don't lie.

  8. I got 48 mpg on a highway trip up to Nothern Wisconsin.

  9. Averaging about 37 in the city

  10. The car is very quick and handles like a charm. The torque is incredible!

  11. Huge increase when recoded--Detroit Volksfest! Ken

  12. Does anyone have knowledge on changing a 2012 TDI exhaust with a normal pipe.I recode my computor and have 40% more torgue but have a huge turbo lag which is not nice! I also may have to change my computor?? Thanks for any info.I live far north and like to see a little diesel smoke when working my engine.Also why 10-30 low ash why not 5-50 as best oil (Casrol syntec)not SLX professional LL03??????? Thanks Ken

  13. Something I would like to add, a forgotten lesson from WW2, our tanks ran on gasoline, when they got hit they turned into a fireball, german tanks were diesel and did not. When it comes to fire Diesels are far safer

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