Volkswagen Diesels

I’m not in the market for a new car, so I apologize in advance if I’m wasing your time.

Volkswagen seem to have been rather successful with their Diesel automobiles. How do they compare with their gasoline powered bretheren?

I’ve ridden in a VW Golf (gas powered) and it seemed like any other subcompact car (except for that particular smell German cars seem to have). I rented a VW New Beetle for one day, and I liked it a lot. Were it not for the automatic transmission, it would have been very, very good. The Beetle seemed to have more room than the Golf.

Has anyone driven a Diesel Beetle? How did you like it?

My ownership experience with German cars is limited to a couple of Porsches. I liked they way they were built, and I liked the performance; but I noticed that little things would go wrong, like switches would go bad. I’ve been in other German cars that had problems with switches. Is this a “German thing”?

Also, I drive about 500 miles per week so I see a lot of cars. VWs don’t seem to age very well. After a few years they just look a little run down. Is this a function of the car? Or is it that people in this area who buy VWs (or used VWs) tend not to maintain them well?

Given a choice between a VW Beetle TDI and a Honda Civic, which would you buy?

We have a 2001 diesel Beetle - and we LOVE it! It’s peppy, comfy, wonderful fuel economy - all in all, a nice little car. unfortunately, it’s the Perfect Child’s[sup]TM[/sup] vehicle, so getting a chance to drive it requires pulling parental rank. :smiley:

We also owned a Jetta Diesel - I think it was an '86 - and I really liked that car too. The only reason it died when it did was our bad judgement in taking it to a particular garage for service - the guy nearly destroyed the engine because he had no idea how to set the timing. We did get it to a proper VW service facility, and they fixed it so we got quite a few more miles from it, but the damage was done.

If I didn’t love my Aerostar so much, I’d get a Jetta TDI or Beetle TDI in a heartbeat!

Man! This forum is right up my alley today?

Weight Watchers thread? check
VW diesel thread? check

I just bought a Golf TDI 2 weeks ago. So far I love it. I bought it for the fuel efficiency, obviously. I opted for it over the Toyota hybrid.

My previous car was a Toyota, and I thought I’d never buy other than Japanese ever again. So if you’d have asked me a year ago, I’d have said to go for the Civic by a mile.

However, I also am led to believe that diesel engines are built to last. Since I plan on keeping this car for a while, that was pretty important to me. Of course, Hondas and Toyotas are built to last, too, so it might be a non-issue.

I plan on taking REAL good care of this car. It had better not start looking run down. But I think maybe people who don’t take excellent care of their cars, drive them a lot, and park them out in the sun, may not have the best looking cars in general, German or not.

So bottom line? I love my diesel (2 weeks in, I’d better not hate it!). I’d also give a strong vote of confidence to the Civic. Probably just depends whether you prefer to buy diesel or regular gasoline.

So yeah, I was a lot of help, wasn’t I?

My father bought a Diesel VW Rabbit back around 1980 and he hated it. No power, no acceleration, no speed (or, as they say in Germany, farfromovin). (It wasn’t a problem with Rabbits; he had two gasoline Rabbits that he liked). His experience turned him off Diesels for life. But later I read that Diesel VWs of this era did not have true Diesel engines (with their high compression ratios), but gasoline engines with low compression ratios, modified to burn Diesel fuel. Hence the poor performance. Looking at the specs of modern VW Diesel engines, it looks like the compression ratios are more in line with what I would expect from a true Diesel engine. I don’t know when the change happened.

A minor point, but diesel fuel availabilty can be an inconvenience if you are away from home.

Most of the gas stations I have frequented in the Chicago area do not offer diesel while some only have one or two pumps per station. This situation is not a problem as long as you know where the diesel stations are on your various travel paths and don’t take your tank down to empty all the time.

When away from home, this can be a serious problem if you’re nearly out of fuel. There must be a website and/or 800 number you can call to find diesel availability?

Of course, if you’re on an interstate, finding a truck stop oftentimes isn’t that hard and all the truck stops carry diesel.

Many automotive experts say that the turbo-diesel is the future engine of the US auto market. As diesels get cleaner, less smelly, their prices drop and their performance becomes more comparable to a gasoline powered car, they will also become more acceptable. As diesel popularity increases, diesel fuel availability should inevitably increase.

On the truck side, diesel engines can make 1,000,000 miles before needing an overhaul. Truck diesels get much better gas mileage while idling vs gasoline powered. Truck diesels also make great low end torque at the expense of high end horsepower. Diesels in general also make better fuel mileage than gasoline engines.

With turbocharging, diesel engine performance can be comparable or better than a gasoline engine, but the extra performace comes at the expense of a small decrease in fuel mileage and also at the expense of engine durability, a diesel strong suit.

Lorenzo, while diesel isn’t available at every station, I’ve never had a problem finding it. In fact, the biggest pain I’ve faced is figuring out where the diesel pump is - sometimes they stand alone and sometimes they’re lurking amongst the gas pumps. Granted, I’ve never driven in Chicago, but we traveled a fair bit in our Jetta and we never panicked about fuel.

I had a suspicion this may be a regional phenomenon. A quick and dirty websearch followed by some sloppy scholarship reveals: among Exxon, Mobil, Clark, Marathon, Shell and Texaco, only Mobil’s site featured a “diesel fuel locator.”

What I found: In the 13 states where Mobil does not sell diesel, Exxon generally does. Exxon/Mobil has a higher concentration of diesel stations on the coasts than in the midwest. For example, 112 Mobil stations selling diesel in Florida, 156 in New York, 136 in California, 84 in Illinois and 27 in Missouri. In the larger, less-populated, western states it appears Mobil sells consumer diesel only at truck stops.

Of the 84 Mobil’s selling diesel in Illinois, 56 are in the Chicago Area.

It’s impossible to draw any conclusions from data of only one retailer, but my guess would be that diesel fuel is more widely available on the coasts than in the midwest.

In an unfamiliar area, especially in the midwest, it might not be a bad idea to keep an eye open for fuel earlier than one would with a gas engine and not expect every gas station to sell diesel.

Modern diesels are great, using common rail solenoid injectors, they are quiet, clean, and reliable as gasoline EFIs.

Spend a couple hundred dollars on a Waste Vegetable Oil conversion and you will be running for free on grease restaurants throw out.

VW Diesels. They’re good, but they’re not the best out there. In the same price range of that Golf, you could buy a Peugeot 307 HDI or an Alfa Romeo 147 JTD, both with far more sophisticated common rail diesels than the Golf - but I don’t think Alfa exports cars to the US at a grand scale, and I know Peugeot doesn’t.

VW popularised the common rail diesel technology, but their TDI’s are getting a bit long in the teeth. The base engine that they’re still expanding on originated in the late 80’s. Adhering to good VAG tradition, they’ve just expanded on those engines by slapping on bigger turbos (or whatever the common rail equivalent is called), et cetera. No real improvement on the block itself. You can get a Golf TDI with 150 bhp now in Europe. It’s just as fast as a GTI (not that that’s saying much, the current GTI weighs close to 1500 kilograms - a far cry from the lightweight streetracer of the 80’s). Of course, it’s mileage is nowhere near the 90 and 100 bhp TDI’s, and one has to wonder if a 1.9 liter diesel with that much power will do 200,000 miles before blowing up.

Can you tell I’m not a Volkswagen fan? :slight_smile:

The New Beetle. Well, there’s no accounting for taste.
But I’d say it’s only roomier in the front, when compared to the Golf. The back is very cramped, and God forbid you need to take any luggage with you. Besides, a Beetle with the engine upfront, and a diesel no less? Water cooled? For shame!

Also, in the US, you buy European cars at a premium. Let’s face it, there’s a price tag attached to heritage - whatever that may be. Even in Europe, Volkswagens are overpriced compared to the competition, mainly because they’re still living off their 80’s image of very reliable cars that outlive the competition. An image the current VW stock certainly doesn’t live up to, and an image the competition has adopted a long time ago, too.

My vote? Don’t buy a VW. Diesel is nice, but gas is cheap in the US anyway. A hatchback will give you good economy no matter how you look at it. If it has to be a diesel, don’t buy a VW TDI - there are more modern, more silent diesels out there. TDI’s make a shitload of noise when compared to a more contemporary (European) competitor.

And for God’s sake, don’t get near a New Beetle. :slight_smile:

Coldie: I like the New Beetle. I think they’re cute. When I rented one, four of us went out to lunch in it. My passengers said the back seats were very comfortable, except for side headroom. (The rear pillars come inward, wo there’s not a lot of room between them and the passengers’ heads.) Overall, I liked it.

Enola Straight: Excellent “green” idea. Except that you have to go out and collect the used grease and filter it. It might be practical if you owned a restaurant, but I can’t see people lining up at McDonalds saying, “I’ll have a Big Mac Value Meal and ten gallons of used grease.”

FWIW, my next car will probably be a Toyota extended cab pickup. It would be nice to be able to load the bike up in the back in case I have to take it to the shop for routine maintenance. (I wonder if they make Diesels?)

Toyota does make diesels. You can buy their pickups and Land Cruisers in diesels, at least in Europe.

I’ve found that in America the Beetle does look cute and stands out as a “different” over here. In Europe there are so many more “cute” cars that the Beetle is just another non-box.

Hardly any of the European manufacturers send their diesels to the States, and we don’t get many makes (Alfa, Fiat, Renaut, Peugot). VW is one of the few we get, and the TDI is definately the best of the lot over here.