Volkswagen Golf TDi

I drive a fair bit, about 40-50 thousand kilometers each year, three-quarters of it highway.  My last car got reasonable mileage, but when it was time to replace it, I opted for a Diesel due to the superior highway mileage.  There are not many companies making Diesel-powered cars for the North American market.

Why didn’t I choose a hybrid?  First, the price differential on the hybrid and a regular engine is far greater than the Diesel-gas spread.  Second, hybrids sacrifice a lot of trunk space to fit the batteries.  Third, there is the uncertainty with the life of the batteries and when they need replacing, I cannot imagine that they are cheap.

My Golf TDi came with VW’s Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) Automatic transmission.  Yes, I know that a stick is more fun to drive, particularly with the amazing torque that the Diesel engine has, but when I get stuck in stop-and-go traffic (“Hey Toronto, have you driven the 401 lately?”) my left hip gets quite sore.  Yes, I drove a stick for seven years.  Back to the DSG.  If you are an aggressive driver, the DSG is an amazing transmission.  There was an episode of the British driving show “Top Gear” that staged a drag race between two identical VWs, save for the transmission:  The host, Jeremy Clarkson, drove the DSG and Stig, a professional race car driver, drove a stick.  The DSG won handily.  It’s a dual clutch automatic that times its shift perfectly.  It is a derivative of a Porsche design for race cars and is an engineering marvel.

However, if you are a middle aged, careful driver who is adverse to racing along residential streets at more than 50 kph, the DSG will drive you bonkers, if not shake the living crap out of you.  The DSG cannot decide which gear to be in and shifts back and forth, doing its worst to simulate the effect of a 16-year-old attempting to drive a standard for the first time.  I’ve asked my dealership to do something about this every time I’ve been in for service and the problem persists.  I even had one service adviser say that nothing could be done, that’s just how the DSG is and get used to it.  One time when I pushed for a solution, a service adviser decided to check to see if there had been a programming upgrade and found that there had been one issued months earlier and had been available during several of my service appointments.  (It’s nice to see the other advisers had been so attentive.)  The programming upgrade did not alleviate the problem.

The last time I was in, the service adviser said, “You’re overdue for a transmission flush,” suggesting that would cure the problem.  (It didn’t.)  I knew nothing about this service requirement.  When I buy a car, I ask about the full required service routine and was told nothing about the transmission flush.  In fact, it wasn’t even on the board outlining the required service and maintenance that hangs on the wall of the service department.  This service is required on the DSG every 60,000 km and costs $500.  I drove my last three gasoline-powered cars between 250,000 and 300,000 km, and I expected to drive the Diesel about 50% farther, given how Diesel engines last.  This transmission is going to cost me more than twice what I paid to get a Diesel.

Don’t bother speaking with the Service Manager.  It seems that their sole responsibility in life and to the dealership is to make lame excuses.  I’ve never met a service manager that could manage to produce service or had a clue what customer service is.  (My last four cars have all been different brands, and I’ve encountered close to a dozen service managers;  they’re all cut from the same cloth.)

And here is a final, minor annoyance.  In my past three cars, each driven 7+ years, I have only needed at most two sets of floormats,  The VW mats have worn through in under two years!

The dealership will not be getting me for any more service calls, unless a recall or warranty repair, and Canadian Tire will be my source for floormats.

“Das Auto? Nein, Das Scheiße”

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