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'08 Saab 9-3, '66 Vespa
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So some quick background, I had a 2009 GTI a couple years ago that I bought used. It was a one owner well kept looking car, but I suspect it wasn't all that well maintained mechanically, as I had a slew of issues with it. It leaked oil and had constant minor misfiring issues, and both the water pump and the rear main seal failed. I ended up dumping it, after having developed a bit of a hatred for the EA888 engine. Fast forward to today and I'm planning on replacing my Saab with something newer in the spring or summer, but in my bored-at-work car searches I this local trade in low mileage, one owner 2018 Golf TSI in my favorite color combination with the options that I want. The only stipulation (other than the tinted windows, which I do not like) is that it has the EA888 1.8T with a 5 speed manual. I was looking for a 2019 or 2020 model with the 1.4T/6 speed setup.

I went to go check it out today. The car is basically brand new. I couldn't find any cosmetic flaws on it, and it was very nice to drive as well. It has under 15k miles. I did find that the clutch/shifter were not quite as light and easy as I was expecting relative to the previous Golfs that I've had, but that isn't a bad thing, just notable.

Wheel Car Tire Vehicle Land vehicle


Car Vehicle Gear shift Speedometer Motor vehicle


I did see this, which could be an oil leak developing around the valve cover gasket, but I could be wrong.

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The car does have an engine cover, I just popped it off to peak around under there.

So basically, I wanted to see if anyone had any opinions on one drivetrain over the other. My priorities are comfort and efficiency. I don't do mods and this 1.8T is more than powerful enough for me, so I think the 1.4t would hypothetically be a better fit. Is my paranoia of EA888 reliability justified, or did I just have the to-be-expected experience of buying a sketchy first year example? Why does this car only have a 5 speed, and where did that transmission come from? What else did they use it in? Are we in a giant price bubble and I should just wait it out regardless?
 

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As someone that currently owns one, (but TDI); and I also owned a 10th gen Civic. So both cars were competitors.

The Civic is a better car, period.
  • The Civic is quicker than both the diesel and gas Golf.
  • The size difference is so much that they shouldn't be in the same class. the civic can fit 4 full sized americans comfortably, the golf cannot do this.. heck I gotta put the back seats down every time I go to the beach, in order to fit everything that the Civic could fit simply inside the trunk.
Civic is easier to work on, and cheaper to maintain..
Infotainment is also better in the civic when comparing same years.
The sunroof of the civic doesn't have any factory defects, the moonroof of the golf has 3 different poor-quality related issues.

With that being said...
I'm only keeping the Golf for some time because it's a loaded TDI. If it was a gasser, I'd have 0 reasons to own it.
There's only 1 thing that the Golf is better at.. slightly better sound system.
But yeah, without a doubt I will be going back to a Civic, or maybe Forester.
The Civic is a better car, and the manual even shifts better.


My Golf SEL TDI 6spd:
 

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'18 Camry SE, '15 F150 XLT, '98 M3, '91 GTI VR6
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I don’t know for sure if VW has updated the 5-speed for some time, but the long ratio 5-speed that was in my 2013 Mk6 Sportwagen 2.5L was not fun at all. 2000 RPM at 70 MPH was nice (as was low-30s MPG out of that boat anchor) but it was not an enthusiastic combo, primarily due to the clutch, ratio spacing, and shifter fill. It’s a big difference from the 6-speed that VW put in the 2.0T/TDI cars.

A friend of mine whose parents have a Mk6 Jetta 1.8T has the same comments regarding the trans, so I think they carried it over when they went to the 1.8T EA888.

I think the 1.8T is a decent power plant that gives good fuel mileage for a gasser. I think there will never be an argument that a Golf provides a significantly less cost of ownership or repair hassle than a Honda or Toyota, but the Golf has always struck me as having a good ride/handling balance for a base platform. So for someone looking for smart package that’s a jack of all trades with good manners, I think a Golf is a good option.
 

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We owned this 2015 E888 1.8T 5MT from new for 6 years and put 55,000 of hard city KM on it:



The only real issue we had with it were the clock spring failed at the 5 year mark and was replaced under extended warranty and the drivers seat heater started to fail and we never fixed it. Engine was solid in the time we had it but I suspect the water pump was leaky from the beggining as there was a faint coolant whiff from it from time to time. It was a fun to drive car for bombing around town but the gearing sucked. First and second were decent ratios and good for skooting around, third through fifth were super tall. Fifth was great for highway driving, but the two-three shift was pretty much the least satisfying gear change I've ever experienced.

I've never tried the 1.4T/6MT combo but my guess is that it's better to drive than the 1.8T/5MT.

I love base Golfs, such a simple, honest driving experience.
 

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2016 Golf SE, 2013 Beetle Turbo Convertible, 1995 Mazda Miata
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My 16 Golf 1.8 SE is an auto, so I'll leave that out of the discussion.

Just hit 92K and it feels pretty much like the day I got it. Been maintained by the book but my 85% highway and garage contributes to the good condition. Under warranty it had a weird rattle coming from the B pillar and the dealer really went to bat for me on that issue over a few visits. Other than that, an O2 sensor threw a code but that's it. It's quiet and solid as hell for a hatch. Still have 80% of brake pad life left. Put GY Eagle Sport tires on @ 60K. Fender sound is surprisingly distortion free. No Sunroof leaks but you really need to pay attention to the drains. Oh...almost forgot averaging 32 MPG over the life. Never seen lower than 28, highest tank was 42 on a long trip.

Against other competition of the era, it was the car to get. I'm in for 200k at this point.
 

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I took possession of my new 2015 Golf TSI in January 2015, next week it will be 7 years old. Mileage is low, but 90% heavy Toronto traffic (70K kms). EA888 1.8T/5 spd manual combo, same silk blue color w/black cloth interior. Under the warranty period I had the front grille changed, due to the chrome strip peeling and last year the wife was driving the car and said the clutch pedal was stuck to the floor, told her to lift it and it was good after that, I drove the car for a week and wasn't able to replicate the issue. So I decided to have the clutch master and slave cylinders changed. The engine burns no oil and has zero leaks. I changed the original spark plugs a few months back myself and it was super easy - all maintenance can be done by a newbie. The car still operates as it did on day 1, there are no rattles/knocks/inoperable features. I did have an EPC light in December 2020 after having it parked outside for more than 3 months, but it cleared as soon as I started driving it. It will need rear brake pads soon, the fronts still seem to be at 40-50% thickness.

The car is basically everything I expected from a non-GTI and my only complain is the gear ratios (as mentioned by others). They are sooo loooong! I can do 100km/h in second below 6k rpm - WTF?!?!? With a nice close ratio 6 speed this car would have been perfect.
 

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Lighting package and keyless are worth the extra price on a higher trim. 2017+ should be MIB2 which is carplay/Android auto capable but you can also upgrade any year for a fancier unit fairly easily if you find the right car.

The 1.8 is almost identical to the 2.0 but is slightly weaker internals allegedly and the is12 instead of is20 on gti. Can be swapped for higher spec but it's just better to start with a gti if you think you're gonna get the urge for power. Clutches should last fine with stock power. Water pumps still an issue like most vws but other than that the engine is solid. Just oil changes on my GTI for 60k+ miles since new and I've had various bolt on for most of its life.
 

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I have a basic 1.4T/6MT. The 1.4T is more fuel efficient than the 1.8T. The oil pan is metal instead of the 1.8T plastic. It uses a standard metal oil filter instead of 1.8 cartridge style. It seems a bit roomier in the engine bay if you're into doing your own work.

We have a 1.8T EA888 Gen3 in a 2016 Beetle 5MT. It seems to be ok so far. It has more pep than the 1.4T.
 

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2018 Golf Sportwagen 4motion
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I have a basic 1.4T/6MT. The 1.4T is more fuel efficient than the 1.8T.
This ^^^.

I currently have a 2018 1.8T Golf Sportwagen 4Motion, and my previous ride was a 2017 Jetta SE 1.4T. Both automatics. 4Motion has the Golf running in front wheel drive probably 90% of the time.

The 1.4T got WAY better gas mileage than my current 1.8T Golf. The difference in combined driving results in 25mpg for the 1.8T, and 32mpg for the 1.4T. As far as power is concerned, the slight downgrade with the 1.4T is absolutely worth it when factoring in the fuel mileage if efficiency is your goal. I got 38mpg, sometimes 40+ in the Jetta on highway trips. I almost have to hypermile my current Golf to get 32mpg on similar excursions.

The manual transmission may make a fractional difference, but that's probably all. I had the Jetta from new to 37K, and the Golf currently has 47K. Zero issues engine reliability-wise with both.
 

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I had an auto 1.8T rental. Coming from my 1.8 NA Civic the torque was amazing. I called it a baby Mercedes. So smooth and effortless to drive. Not fun at all though

Sent from my SM-G781U1 using Tapatalk
 

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I test drove this car a few times when it was new. They were going for $16k at the time. An amazing price for (as CTK put it) a baby Mercedes. Smooth, quiet, solid, with a great interior. The engine felt like it came out of an Audi (because it did). The Civic felt tinny and was over-styled in comparison, and I like Hondas.

Then you went to shift that transmission and you could tell where VW had phoned it in. Notchy, long throws. No feel in the clutch and throttle delay and rev hang and LONG ratios made it difficult to drive smoothly without practice. Yuck. The ancient MTX-75 gearbox in the advertised-in-newspaper windup-window Focus S felt coated in teflon by comparison.

I saved a few more pennies and bought a 6-speed GTI instead. The transmission feel still isn't great, but it's a lot better.
What a shame about the Golf -- such an excellent car spoiled by such an unsatisfying manual transmission. IMHO.
 

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80 Caddy, 88 Cabby, 91 Jetta TDI, 15 GSW TDI, 19 Tiguan
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I can't comment on the 1.8T but I have had my TDI wagon since Spring of '17 and turned 173k miles last week. Everything in the interior has held up extremely well and there is nary a creak or squeak to be found anywhere. The Fender audio system is definitely one of the highlights if you can find one so equipped.

I average fuel economy in the low to mid 40's depending on where I am driving and the season. Even though it is six years old, I feel like it still looks very current inside and out. I like the actual knobs for HVAC instead of a Clima Tronic type system.



If you can find a 2019 you should have "The People's Warranty" of 6 years/72k miles which is transferable to a new owner.

With VW abandoning the US wagon market my plan is to find the nicest, lowest mileage example next year and get another '15 TDI wagon.
 

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'08 Saab 9-3, '66 Vespa
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I don’t know for sure if VW has updated the 5-speed for some time, but the long ratio 5-speed that was in my 2013 Mk6 Sportwagen 2.5L was not fun at all.
It was a fun to drive car for bombing around town but the gearing sucked. First and second were decent ratios and good for skooting around, third through fifth were super tall. Fifth was great for highway driving, but the two-three shift was pretty much the least satisfying gear change I've ever experienced.
The car is basically everything I expected from a non-GTI and my only complain is the gear ratios (as mentioned by others). They are sooo loooong! I can do 100km/h in second below 6k rpm - WTF?!?!? With a nice close ratio 6 speed this car would have been perfect.
Then you went to shift that transmission and you could tell where VW had phoned it in. Notchy, long throws. No feel in the clutch and throttle delay and rev hang and LONG ratios made it difficult to drive smoothly without practice. Yuck. The ancient MTX-75 gearbox in the advertised-in-newspaper windup-window Focus S felt coated in teflon by comparison.
Ha, it's funny how universal this criticism is. It did feel notchy and a little stiff in comparison to the old MKIV that I had that could be shifted with a pinky finger. I didn't notice any problem with the ratios though, and I was paying attention to that because I remember ice4life having a lot of trouble with that in the past. I don't know if that says more about me or the Opel 6 speed that they put in Saabs. :LOL:

I called it a baby Mercedes. So smooth and effortless to drive. Not fun at all though
Perfect! That's exactly what I'm looking for.

I have a basic 1.4T/6MT. The 1.4T is more fuel efficient than the 1.8T. The oil pan is metal instead of the 1.8T plastic. It uses a standard metal oil filter instead of 1.8 cartridge style. It seems a bit roomier in the engine bay if you're into doing your own work.
The 1.4T got WAY better gas mileage than my current 1.8T Golf.
Yeah, I'm thinking a 1.4T car is the one for me. It seems to be all positives with the only downside being the limited power, but I honestly don't even care about that.

The sunroof of the civic doesn't have any factory defects, the moonroof of the golf has 3 different poor-quality related issues.
I just looked that up, and it looks like the frame itself cracks and lets water into the car. :oops: Yikes, that's not something I want to deal with. Does the MQB Jetta have the same issues?
 

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2020 Toyota Corolla Hatch
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I can't comment on the 1.8T but I have had my TDI wagon since Spring of '17 and turned 173k miles last week. Everything in the interior has held up extremely well and there is nary a creak or squeak to be found anywhere. The Fender audio system is definitely one of the highlights if you can find one so equipped.

I average fuel economy in the low to mid 40's depending on where I am driving and the season. Even though it is six years old, I feel like it still looks very current inside and out. I like the actual knobs for HVAC instead of a Clima Tronic type system.



If you can find a 2019 you should have "The People's Warranty" of 6 years/72k miles which is transferable to a new owner.

With VW abandoning the US wagon market my plan is to find the nicest, lowest mileage example next year and get another '15 TDI wagon.
I think I remember you getting your TDI around the same time as me, and I always kept up on the nice subtle mods you did to the car. I think it looks absolutely fantastic as it sits now!

To the OP, that MK7 looks pretty clean. Love the color combo too! I am such a sucker for blue cars in general though. The only thing is, I would steer clear of the models with sunroofs, as I really just don't trust them at this point. Even my Golf, with no sunroof, still managed to leak in the back hatch area, soaking the headliner a few times. Thankfully, the dealer was able to fix it, and I caught the stains soon enough to clean them up before they set.
 

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'08 Saab 9-3, '66 Vespa
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I think I remember you getting your TDI around the same time as me, and I always kept up on the nice subtle mods you did to the car. I think it looks absolutely fantastic as it sits now!

To the OP, that MK7 looks pretty clean. Love the color combo too! I am such a sucker for blue cars in general though. The only thing is, I would steer clear of the models with sunroofs, as I really just don't trust them at this point. Even my Golf, with no sunroof, still managed to leak in the back hatch area, soaking the headliner a few times. Thankfully, the dealer was able to fix it, and I caught the stains soon enough to clean them up before they set.
Yes, I've been reading up on them, and it sounds pretty bad. I had heard about them leaking but I figured it was just that you needed a really thorough cleaning schedule or something. Nope, the whole frame cracks all over and it's glued in place and there's no real solution. Is it just the Golf that has that issue or did they fix it in other models?
 

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2020 Toyota Corolla Hatch
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I think it is a problem in other VW models with sunroofs too. Obviously both the hatch and wagon variant of the Golf and I also remember hearing complaints with the Tiguan as well.

Here is something funny. My dad has a first model year 2012 Ford Focus hatch, that he just trashes, which is sad because I remember really liking that car when he got it (this was the year we got the Euro model). It is fully loaded with the sunroof, and he never cleans it, it sits outside under a tree, it has been rear ended, had the front removed by a termite truck and on top of all that, he rear ended somebody hard in it (don't know how it never got totaled lol). This car has never leaked and doesn't have a single rattle... :LOL: My Golf, was a rattle machine with a quarter of the miles!
 

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'08 Saab 9-3, '66 Vespa
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I think it is a problem in other VW models with sunroofs too. Obviously both the hatch and wagon variant of the Golf and I also remember hearing complaints with the Tiguan as well.

Here is something funny. My dad has a first model year 2012 Ford Focus hatch, that he just trashes, which is sad because I remember really liking that car when he got it (this was the year we got the Euro model). It is fully loaded with the sunroof, and he never cleans it, it sits outside under a tree, it has been rear ended, had the front removed by a termite truck and on top of all that, he rear ended somebody hard in it (don't know how it never got totaled lol). This car has never leaked and doesn't have a single rattle... :LOL: My Golf, was a rattle machine with a quarter of the miles!
They had those Focuses here at work as the fleet cars for the sales team. Other than the horrible PowerShift transmissions, which absolutely had problems, they were pretty solid and nice to drive for sure.
 

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2015 VW GTI
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1.8T in the mk7 Golf is a solid motor, my wife drove a SportWagen for about 6 yrs and never had any issues with it. The only thing I remember is the that fuel economy was not the best in city driving. On the highway we could easily get 35 mpg, but driving in city would be in low 20s. As everyone else said, at some point water pump and thermostat will need to be replaced, eventually they will leak coolant (just a perk of all EA888 engines). Pano roofs have had issues with water leaking, even though we never had issues with ours.
 
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