Reader Question: Which TDI?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

James asks: I am considering purchasing a used VW with a 2.0L TDI engine. Do you have any insight to share regarding the engine or the various models in which it’s available? Anything on the transmissions would also be appreciated. I plan on having the ECU flashed to increase horsepower and torque. I’m currently driving a modified 2002 Passat 5 speed and absolutely love the drive. It’s easily as much fun as the old ’73 Firebird Formula 400 that taught me how to really drive. It’s a way different ride but still fun and real driving. I’m hoping the diesel will match or exceed performance and prove long-lived. Thanks for your time. Thanks for efforts!

My reply: Good news, James! VW offered the TDI in almost every model it sold – until the “cheating” scandal broke, that is. You could buy a TDI-powered Golf or Beetle, Jetta or Passat. All are great fun to drive (tremendous low and mid-range torque) and, of course, deliver outstanding mileage.

I personally really like the Golf because of its space-efficient design; but the Jetta is outstanding, too. I test drove several new ones and all delivered better than the EPA-advertised mileage.

I would go with the manual transmission, both for the mileage and the fun. I would avoid VW’s Direct Shift (DSG) automatic as these have had some problems and are very expensive to replace.

Also, you may want to find one that hasn’t been “fixed.” The “fixed” cars’ mileage is a bit less; not a huge difference, but it’s there. You will likely find that any car offered by a dealer has been “fixed” as the dealers are being forced by VW (the company) to do it.

I’d shop for private sale cars regardless as the deals are almost always better.

Otherwise, Tally ho! This is an easy decision to make. Or rather, your hardest decision will be which TDI-powered VW to get!

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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