Well read on to find out.
The best daily driver for a gearhead is MKVI Volkswagen Golf TDI with a 6 speed manual, despite a Golf R being pictured.
Now some of you might be saying, “wait, if your going to go with a Golf, why not get a GTI?” The reason is, I’m being realistic. The TDI offers the best of everything when it comes to practicality, fun factor, speed (or perceived speed,) price, and something everyone should care about: miles per gallon. A base TDI, which is not a “base” car because it comes with 17" wheels, heated seats, the customish mats, and a touchscreen radio to name a few things, only costs around $25,000, depending on how good you are at negotiating.
As gear-heads, we have to compromise when it comes to picking our daily driver, especially if you have a family. That’s what makes the Golf TDI so great, because you don’t really have to compromise. You get a car that’s fun to drive, offers plenty of space for cargo and people, holds it value well, and gets great gas mileage.
Now, on to the driving. A Golf, no matter what trim it carries, is a hoot and a half to drive. It is a fine example of German’s do best, build great cars. The ride is excellent for an enthusiast. It’s comfortable, but not so soft as to float over everything, and roll like a boat through the corners. I will admit though, that the brakes are not the greatest. at least compared to my Mercedes (I only mention this as a comparison in certain areas.) But the reason I like the TDI over a GTI, is the torque. Oh the sweet, sweet torque. The TDI may not be that fast, with a 0-60 time of about 8.6 seconds, but it feels so much faster because of all that torque just past idle. Passing maneuvers are also brisk because of that torque. If your cruising on the freeway and need to pass someone, one downshift to fourth, and your gone, it’s awesome.
When it comes to efficiency though, you might think that those EPA numbers will be a pipe dream when you drive the car the way you want to: fast. But, you’d be wrong. I drive my TDI with a lot of... “enthusiasm,” and I still get at least 30 miles per gallon around town, and I’ve gotten up to 47 miles per gallon a long trip, but average between 40 to 45 mpg on shorter stints on the freeway. And on those longer trips, I get out of the car at the end and am so glad I bought a Golf, because hot damn, it’s a comfortable car to drive long distances. The seats hold you in well, it’s really quiet, and the stereo is really good for a bone stock unit.
MKVI Golfs are also easily tuned, if 140hp and 236 ft-lbs of torque isn’t enough, APR offers an ECU tune that bumps it up to 170hp and 300 ft-lbs of torque. There are also tons of options for suspension mods and everything else.
I know a big complaint with V-dubs is on reliability, which is true for older ones, but the new MKVI is light-years better, and better than any other Volkswagen offers in the US. I worked at VW dealership as a factory tech for a time, and I never saw any Golfs come in for warranty claims. And VW had a few amount of service campaigns, aka recalls, but there wasn’t one quality control campaign for the Golf. The only campaign I knew about was for TDIs in general, and the consisted of putting diesel stickers in the gas cap for stupid people. In comparison, there were quite a few recalls for the Jettas and Passats for quality control issues. That kind of confirms my personal belief that cars built in Germany are just better.
The Golf TDI is not perfect, but no car is, no matter how much you pay. But, I think for the money, a Golf TDI is the best practical choice for enthusiasts. Not a GTI or any competitor, but a MKVI Golf TDI 6 speed. There’s a reason the Golf is the best selling vehicle in Europe, and the best selling vehicle of all time...