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Alternatives to Volkswagen diesel





Ankhanu
I’ve got a 2015 VW Beetle TDI that I bought new in June 2015. Since then, I’ve put almost 80,000km, and VW has been hit with falsifying its diesel emissions ratings. In the US VW has had a repair/buyback program on the go, but Canada hasn’t settled yet. In the US the buyback value is based on the vehicle value in September 2015. If this holds for the Canadian settlement, the value of buyback would be for a 2.5 month old car... after having driven it over 80,000km in the past 20 months... that's pretty tempting value.

Though the Canadian details aren’t settled yet, I am considering my options for when the fix/buyback comes around. My daily commute is about 240km, round trip, so fuel economy is pretty important to me, but so are build quality, comfort and stability. I have been getting about 5.5L/100km average fuel economy, tracking fuel economy for the past 12 months; it's better in summer than winter. I don't want to go too far above this... which is rough with gas engines.

My job is technically seasonal, but I've had extentions such that I've been working solid for the past two years... my normal season is spring-fall, but I've been doing plenty of winter driving on mostly rural roads - as such, I'm heavily considering all-wheel drive options too. My preference is for a manual transmission as well.

I've been doing some poking around to see what my options are within reasonable price limits... it's a rough go to find something that ticks all the boxes.

Some of the options I've expored so far:
Volkswagen -
.: Golf R - AWD, powerful, not fuel efficient, pricey
.: Golf TSi - FWD, decent enough, ok fuel efficiency
Mini -
.: Cooper - FWD, ok fuel economy, moderate price, looks comfortable
.: Paceman ALL4 - AWD, marginal fuel economy, kinda pricey
Subaru -
.: Impreza - AWD, moderate fuel economy, kinda boring, reasonable price
.: WRX - AWD, bad on fuel, looks fun, pricey
Mazda -
.: 3 - Kinda boring, reasonable price, decent fuel economy, unpleasant interior
.: 6 - Still with a Mazda interior, decent fuel economy

... some others that aren't coming immediately to mind...

I'm open to thoughts and opinions, other options, etc. This is some rough consideration Razz
deanhills
How about Toyota? I know some of its vehicles are very boring, but maybe Toyota 86 is a bit different. The new Corollas are also not too bad looking and quite modern with the new models.

I'm a Volkswagen person myself, but for me maintenance wise Toyota seems to be a bit more hardy, and its resale value is always very good - in the UAE for sure. Parts are also easier to come by in comparison with Volkswagen parts that have to be imported from Germany.
andy26
A friend of mine has the Mazda 6 2l its not a bad car but the interior does feel a bit cheap.

have you thought about a BMW? Some of their newer 3 series and 5 series have really good 60mpg fuel economy probably better now i was looking at buying a 2006 3 series for its fuel economy but i decided to go for fun and speed with a BMW Z4 3L the bloody thing is quick!
Ankhanu
Yeah, I forgot to mention Toyota, and Honda... both are pretty solid manufacturers with decent reliability and fuel economy. That said, I've always hated their interiors Razz They're not off the table, though.

I was looking at BMW a bit, but, nothing they have is really in my price range with features that I want. Also, when they go, they're super expensive to fix... and I'm coming from a history of VWs Smile
andy26
Ankhanu wrote:
Yeah, I forgot to mention Toyota, and Honda... both are pretty solid manufacturers with decent reliability and fuel economy. That said, I've always hated their interiors Razz They're not off the table, though.

I was looking at BMW a bit, but, nothing they have is really in my price range with features that I want. Also, when they go, they're super expensive to fix... and I'm coming from a history of VWs Smile


BMW's are expensive for repair but that's only if you go to a BMW dealership they will rob you.
Your ordinary garage or a BMW specialist garage are loads cheaper BMW's are pretty reliable and built solid though its the main reason i'm going for them at the min.

Hope you find something suitable Japanese cars do have good reliability and MPG so might be the way to go.
william
What I would do: wait for the fix to come out (which will hopefully be approved), get the fix done. With the money that comes with it, spend it on a Malone tune. This will also boost fuel economy in addition to power/torque enhancements. Although, if the emissions do bother you, then it may not be the best option.

There just isn't much else out there that drives like a VW TDI in North America. I imagine the BMW 328d would be the closest, but I haven't driven one to be sure. What I've heard from others is that it isn't as smooth as the TDIs. And, the F30 is pretty disappointing as a platform, IMO. Not to mention, there's no manual. On the upside, you can get it with AWD and as a wagon if that's to your liking. The old E90 335d was a pretty impressive machine, hauled like a locomotive, but maintenance and reliability hasn't been the greatest.

For 2017, the Chevy Cruze is getting an oil burner again. Haven't driven the new models, but they do look pretty sharp. Best of all, unlike the last gen, this time we're supposedly getting a manual as an option.

For gasoline vehicles, perhaps the closest option is another VW. The 1.8T is a pretty competent engine, but I honestly don't think it's as good as many people say. I went in expecting 80%-90% of the 2.0T, and got something that only felt marginally better than the 1.4T. The torque curve gets the car moving well, but it's just not that much fun. Truthfully, coming from a TDI, I'd say the gas 2.0T is a much more apt replacement than the 1.8T. I drove the last gen 2.0T, and it's a gem of an engine. The new ones are even better, and the gains from just a chip are pretty massive. You'd be losing a bit on the fuel economy, but I'd say the GTI is the way to go if you're sticking with VW (unless you're willing to spend the money for an R).

My experience with the Impreza is that it's a decent car, but it's going to feel quite slow compared to the TDI (even if the numbers don't suggest that). But, if you value AWD, I think it's actually the least expensive car to come with it. You mentioned the interior, and let's just say it's a LOT better than older Subarus. But, coming from a VW, perhaps not.

The Ford Focus is an older car and not exactly the most reliable (particularly with that dual-clutch transmission). That said, you can get it with a manual. And, to drive, it's a hoot. There are supposedly better driving cars right now (like the Mazda3) and you probably won't like the interior based on what you've said (not to mention that the back seat is tiny), but the initial turn in is addicting and the rear end is a masterpiece. Ford knows how to do rear suspension (rumors have it that VW grabbed Ford engineers when they were developing the MKV to design the rear suspension, because the MKI Focus was that good). Your Beetle is based on the MKVI Golf, and the Ford feels very similar to the MKV/MKVI Golf, except with an even more exciting chassis. Admittedly, everything else about it is probably not as good. (Unfortunately, the Focus RS is very expensive in Canada, otherwise that car is insane).

Also, do check out the new 10th Gen Civic. Not sure which trims come with a manual in Canada, but that car is supposedly right up there with the best in terms of how it drives.

If you're willing to explore used cars, there are a ton of great options in that price range, like AWD performance sedans like the Acura RL or Infiniti G37x.

One other common choice I've seen from former TDI owners is the Chevy Volt. You get the fuel economy as well as a surprising kick from the electric motor's torque. And for your long commute, no need to worry about range anxiety like you would with an all electric.

Anyway, sorry for the wall of text. Partially because I started to ramble, and partially because I completely forgot about the one car that might work just fine for you: the VW Golf Sportwagen. I looked at vw.ca, and your Golf Alltrack is insanely expensive compared to ours, but your standard Sportwagen seems to have an advantage over ours. In the States, only the base S model can be had with AWD. Anything more, and you have to get the Alltrack. However, it appears that Canada gets both the Trendline and Comfortline with optional AWD. What's more, it looks like you can get it with the 5 speed manual. Doesn't look like you get the panoramic sunroof (which I find quite theatrical), but it seems pretty well equipped otherwise.

Or just get a Mustang GT or Camaro SS. Yeah yeah, they're RWD and fuel economy isn't the greatest (though much better than before), but the price isn't that far off, and they're fun. Razz
BigGeek
Ankhanu wrote:
Yeah, I forgot to mention Toyota, and Honda... both are pretty solid manufacturers with decent reliability and fuel economy. That said, I've always hated their interiors Razz They're not off the table, though.

I was looking at BMW a bit, but, nothing they have is really in my price range with features that I want. Also, when they go, they're super expensive to fix... and I'm coming from a history of VWs Smile


I'm with you - I was out of town last week on business and rented a 2017 Toyota Corolla - interior is nothing great! Got great mileage though - and it was comfortable to drive! Pretty plain jane car if you ask me!

My wife has a 2006 Honda Civic - gets incredible mileage - not much on acceleration - Interior is plain and nothing to write home about!

I say no never on BMW's, Mercedes, Audi's - German cars are nice - no doubt - but they are way over priced, and expensive as hell to fix! My other problem with them is that as nice as they are they sure don't last any longer than anything else! Plus an Audi is just a glorified VW Wink

I take it American cars aren't even on the list to be considered? Ford has some good products - my wife drove her friends new Focus and loved it - said she would take it over her Civic any day!
Ankhanu
William - I appreciate the wall of text, actually; lots of info there, but, I’m seeking info!
BigGeek - Yup, basically my experience as well. My ex had a Corolla, it was reliable, worked well, very ho-hum to drive. Ditto on any Civics I’ve driven.

American cars aren’t out of the question, but I haven’t found any that balance price versus quality that quite hit any of the trade offs that make sense to me. The sports cars are kinda fun, but, again, generally underperform versus other sports cars… yeah, American sports cars have a lot of HP, but they handle poorly. At least where I live, I deal with a lot of winding roads, and any Mustangs and similarly sized American cars I’ve driven don’t corner well… the wheel base is way too long.

My sister has a Focus that I drive across the country a couple years ago. It really wasn’t bad. I put on about 5000km on it in three days… mileage was ok, it was comfortable enough. The Stereo system was utter trash, and the price felt high when I looked into it a couple years back… I should look into them again.

The most responsible choice that I’ve priced so far is a Civic hatchback Sport, at ~$25000 with some upgrades… but I think buying one and driving it for the next 5+ years would hurt my soul Wink

I really haven’t gotten any further in my decision… not that the settlement is done here in Canada yet. I may just end up keeping my high KM Beetle until it dies and go from there in the future Razz
standready
My neighbor a Passat TDI and with less than 50k miles the turbo failed! Repaired under warranty and he got rid it before the buyout as offered.
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