Last Thursday morning:DSC_5700

Last Thursday evening:DSC_5716

Long time readers who I haven’t put to sleep yet will remember that VW has been quasi-sponsoring my Gearhead gallivanting about the countryside with a guaranteed buyback offer, thanks to the encouragement of the EPA, CARB, and a bunch o’ greedy shysters. The deal was too good to resist- around $6000 bounty to let VW fix the offending TDI diesels to comply with just one aspect of ‘Merica’s oddball environmental requirements that they didn’t comply with, assuming EPA and CARB ever approve a fix. Or juicier yet, buyback for the September ’15 trade in value PLUS the $6k “restitution”= About what I paid for the ’13 “Jetta” Sportswagon TDI new! And pouring on the free “condiments”, VW allows 12.5K miles a year with no penalty and deducts only a paltry nickel a mile if you run over those allowances… And they gave us until the end of 2018 to turn it in! Thus was turned loose my “Fugitive TDI”, as I aimed to pile on the miles ’til the last day of 2018.

None the less, there were a few “bugs” in that plan… Like the Fort Myers VW dealer who botched an alignment, and the lack of new TDIs to trade for. Sorry, 30 MPG or less MPG is hard to accept when your TDIs have routinely given 40+ MPG for the last four decades. So I was resigned to replacing the ’13 TDI with a gluttonous “gasser”, and keeping the ’03 Golf TDI going as long as possible. Then EPA and CARB surprised us by approving a fix for the latest technology TDIs, the 2015 and maybe some 2014 models with the newer EA288 engine and Diesel Exhaust Fluid injection. Meanwhile, there’s no fix approved yet for the next oldest group of TDIs, the Passats with the older 70s based engine design and DEF injection. And for the 2009-2014 TDIs with the older engine design and no DEF injection, the outlook is grim… VW is already crushing some.

When the stop sale order on new TDIs came down in September 2015 there were around 12,000 new unsold TDIs in the U.S., and they’ve spent the last year and a half languishing in limbo at the back of VW dealer lots and worse. After a couple weeks of rumors, the stop sale order was dropped on April 14th and the TDI rush began! And I mean rush, with no advertising or even mention on VW’s website and aided by a $5k rebate and 0% financing, most of those 12,000 new TDIs sold out in days.

With the new tractor I’d set aside $16k for delayed until June, I e-mailed the two “nearest” (70 and 110 miles away) VW dealers on the 15th to check inventory status. Just about sold out in Sioux Falls, and a pair of Golfs and another Sportswagen in Mankato. Put my dibs on the white Golf on the 17th, and picked it up a bit over a week later after a minor feud with VW Finance who insisted on financing the car to get the $5k rebate… We settled on a token loan with 40% down that I’ll be paying back shortly.

So here she is, in her natural habitat:DSC_5713For those of you outside the midwest, Fleet Farm is sorta a Tractor Supply, all grown up.

Just breaking her in, so picked up a light load as I trained in the new TDI with her first pizza and Dew stop:DSC_5715Next day a bit tougher assignment with a Costco run:DSC_5725Big cooler, 36 cans of Dew, couple weeks worth of bread, ‘nanas, and a couple years supply of TP… And didn’t even have to fold the back seat down! Haven’t refueled yet and the current tankful was partly burned while under the dealer’s custody, but here’s the computer’s results for a 65-80 MPH 140 mile cruise to Sioux Falls and back:DSC_5726That 45 MPG beats the ’13 by at least 10%, and matches or beats my ’03 TDI and ’86 and ’79 VW Golf diesels, and this is a new tight engine cruising at higher speeds than were even quasi-legal in ’86 and ’79. This highlights my impression of the latest 7th generation Golf- In almost every way it’s better than the previous Golfs and TDIs. There’s a couple questionable “modern improvements” like the hiding of the door locks and having to go through computer “menus” to do stupid simple stuff, but in most every way it’s an improvement. And it got cheaper to boot- when the 7th generation Golfs came out VW added a cheaper “S” trim option in the U.S.A. and knocked a couple thou off the price. And by going back to the standard Golf hatch from the Golf Sportswagen I saved a couple thousand more- The Sportswagen’s extra foot of cargo space is nice, but that same foot moves the hitch a foot back and makes the shorter overhang Golf hatch a better trailer tower.

And what of that ’13 Sportswagon? Sitting at the VW dealer awaiting a May 10th buyback that will net me the price of a decent Airhead more than this new Golf TDI costs. But seeing that VW is now crushing TDIs, I may do the numbers again and maybe reclaim the ’13 “Fugitive TDI” and put on a few (hundred?) thousand miles before I surrender it to a date with the crusher. I still have 4 of the 5 Golf diesels I’ve bought since ’78, and with no new ones forthcoming to ‘Merica, I’m hesitant to give up my “stash”!