Wednesday, we hit the Volkswagen dealership to check out the Jetta TDI and look at Rabbits/GTIs to get a sense of what the upcoming 2010 Golf TDI will be like. These TDIs get about the same gas mileage as many hybrids (although not quite as good as the Prius) and are supposed to be much more fun to drive. The Jetta TDI won the 2009 Green Car of the Year (although in 2008 the winner was the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, which is hardly my idea of an ecologically sound vehicle to drive). In addition the 2009 GTI was first on US News's aggregate car review rankings for upscale small cars.

Unlike the Honda and Toyota dealerships we went to, Volkswagen seems to allow their salespeople to hang out indoors, but Alvaro came out to greet us and ask us what we were interested in. We told him the Jetta (after a brain-fart where I initially said Passat).

Alvaro walked us over to the Jetta TDI, and then after a small amount of talk suddenly had something far more urgent to do (he claimed he had a phone call he had to make). So, we got to poke around in a baking hot Jetta (black car, black interior) by ourselves.

To me, the car seemed a little like a tank, with huge wheels and big heavy doors, but having seen them in the wild, I'm fairly sure that a lot of that is some sort of illusion that comes from looking at it on the dealers lot -- C had a similar reaction to the Prius. But the interior seemed fairly well appointed, although there was some hard plastic in places.

Two neat interior features that C discovered were a 110V power outlet on the back of the center console and a completely lockable trunk (i.e., you can prevent people accessing the trunk even if they have access to the passenger area).

At least 20 minutes later we gave up and started to walk towards the showroom. On our way, we saw some Rabbits and started to peer into them, and that was Alvaro's cue to reappear. I asked about a test drive and he piled on the excuses. Apparently they only had two sales guys in the dealership right now, and someone else was coming to do a test drive and that was a sure thing, and anyway, the Jetta TDI was kinda blocked in and would be hard to get out, and it was probably the wrong phase of the moon, too.

Possibly I was too primed by Andy, the Toyota salesman who doesn't like to sell cars, but I was a little pissed off at Alvaro's attitude and I think I showed it. I think I left giving him my card and saying something like, "When you want to sell me a car, you let me know". C told me afterwards that I needed to have a little less of a chip on my shoulder about being taken seriously, and she's probably right,

Having struck out at the VW dealership, we stopped in at a neighboring Toyota dealer, and actually found someone worse than Andy from our local dealership. She was all about trying to get us to put a deposit to wait for to pay over the odds for a car we've never even seen, let alone test driven. Um, no thanks. She did at least give us a brochure though; I guess that's something.

Alvaro did call me the next day, and we were both nice and smoothed things over, and we agreed that I'd come back the following Tuesday to do a test drive and get a better sense of the Rabbit since the upcoming Golf TDI does seem like a very likely prospect. I still have high hopes for Volkswagens. We've done more homework in the meantime: C seems to be a little less concerned about having a diesel and we've found that the integrated navigation system on the newer cars has good iPod integration (after a few years of serious stumbles from VW).