Owning a four-month-old Volkswagen Golf TDI today feels a bit like having a puppy that you know someday must be taken in to have neutered. You wonder whether he'll be quite the same spunky dog afterward.
The neutering, of course, will be whatever remedy VW eventually devises to fix the self-inflicted emission problem on some 11 million small TDI engines worldwide. The fix is likely to sap performance and erode the 45-plus mpg that my Golf SportWagen has been averaging over a long highway commute.
That's a huge problem for VW. Great fuel economy and playful, low-end torque are top purchase considerations for TDI buyers. Shouldn't VW offer to buy back our cars? I suppose another option is to avoid the neutering altogether. But just as I wouldn't want my dog, uh, emitting stuff he shouldn't, I'm not sure I want my car spewing up to 40 times the allowable nitrous oxide into the air. That ecological guilt already has been gnawing at me.