I bought this before Dieselgate, early August 2015. It's funny how it worked out, because I drove a TDI stick, a TDI auto and a TSI auto.
Both automatics were mildly awful. A pox on VW for selling those.
The TDI stick was the best of those three listed. It was like driving a small, very stylish Kenworth.
I looked at the TDI emissions controls and though to myself: 'Boy, that looks complicated.' And, I'm an erstwhile Volvo tweaker.
But after some searching I managed to find a TSI stick, and I was amazed how good it was.
If Volvo imported something like this, I would have bought it. But, this is a heck of a car for the money, about $21k with the 1.8 TSI, 5 spd, black pleather, 15 inch wheels (!), 32 or 33 mpg in normal driving, and 38-40+ on the highway depending how fast I drive.
It's only mildly poisonous, and it sure feels stronger than 170 hp. If I could fully defeat the traction control it would be hysterical.
It might not last at long as my 94 850 turbo (which my daughter still drives), but it's pretty great today.