VW and Audi diesels reach out to U.S. drivers

Why do people buy diesel-powered vehicles? Should you consider one?

By Mark Phelan/Detroit Free Press

The ★★★ 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen TDI station wagon and the ★★★ 2015 Audi A3 TDI sedan provide some answers to those questions.

Both cars combine excellent fuel economy with lively performance, features that have long made diesels popular in Europe. Diesel could be losing momentum, however, as gasoline engines become more efficient, Michigan and other U.S. states consider higher taxes, and some European governments move away from the fuel.

The Volkswagen group, which includes Audi, is a leader in the technology. Diesels attract some of VW and Audi’s most enthusiastic customers.

The Golf Sportwagen and Audi A3 TDIs make it easy to understand why. They offer high fuel economy and fine acceleration. TDI is VW shorthand for turbocharged direct injection, the designation for its diesels.

Prices for the Golf Sportwagen TDI start at $29,095. A3 TDI prices start at $32,600.

Both cars have a 150-hp 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that develops 236 pound-feet of torque at 1,750 r.p.m., a low engine speed that makes the torque immediately available for quick acceleration.

I tested a Sportwagen TDI SEL with a six-speed manual transmission, touch screen, Bluetooth phone and audio compatibility, voice recognition, navigation, and more. It cost $32,035.