What is it?
Not so long ago, if you wanted an everyday car with good performance, excellent fuel economy and even better ergonomics, you bought a turbodiesel Volkswagen Golf.
British roads overflowed with these cars, whose relative dullness, it seemed at the time, was the reasonable price to pay for vice-free motoring in many other respects.
But we all know what happened next, and lately the pick of the Golf’s engine line-up has been the 1.5-litre TSI – a smooth-spinning, downsized petrol that for the eighth-generation car has also been fitted with 48V mild-hybrid tech.
It’s unlikely any diesel-propelled Golf will ever again enjoy such popularity, but the Mk8 version is nevertheless here and, according to Volkswagen’s engineers, TDI power is now even cleaner than the equivalent petrol model.
That’s because a new ‘twin-dosing’ system hits exhaust gases with AdBlue upstream of not one but two selective catalytic reduction (SCR) sites that together act on the gases over a broad temperature range to cut nitrogen oxide concentrations by 80% compared with the old model.
It all sounds quite heavy duty, but it makes the latest diesel Golf exceptionally clean too. Of course, this car also needs to bring owners the more tangible benefit of sipping fuel in religiously frugal fashion. Volkswagen hasn’t released official numbers yet but, on the basis that fuel consumption is said to be 17% better than the outgoing TDI engine, the combined economy figure should better 60mpg by WLTP standards.
On paper, it is an almost unbelievable improvement, but then again this EA288 Evo engine is almost entirely new, with significantly lower mechanical losses than the old unit. A full road test will help reveal the truth, but it seems likely that this TDI will be the most frugal Golf in the current line-up, more so perhaps than the 245bhp GTE plug-in hybrid due next year, depending on your mileage.
As for the engine itself, displacement is two litres, with the old 1.6-litre now history not only in terms of hardware but in concept. There are, however, two power outputs for this larger four-cylinder in order to cater for both those who want nothing more than a steady tool car and also those who would like some bite to match the Mk8’s visual bark.
You can then have either a seven-speed dual-clutch or six-speed manual transmission, and it’s the former Autocar has driven, mated to the more powerful 148bhp engine (versus 109bhp), which generates its peak torque output of 266lb ft from only 1750rpm.