(Quote) - We have a 1200 lb Boler
(loaded for bear) that we currently tow with a Dodge Caravan - which is plenty big enough. We would like to downsize the vehicle for a number of reasons and are interested in either a TDI Golf or a new Mini Cooper.
I'm sure that our Golf TDI would be an adequately powered vehicle for such a lightweight. Our tow car, a Subaru Forester, has the a similar torque output, but not the turbo, which really gives the TDI extra punch at altitude. That said, I never considered the Golf as a tow car. Compared to the Subaru, it has two big defiencies. Obviously, it's front wheel drive, which is probably the least-favored match with a trailer. With AWD, I never worry about getting stuck. More importantly, the TDI lacks adequate ground clearance for suburban use, much less the forest service roads and backcountry where I hope to go. The A4 models like mine (1999-2005) have less than 4 inches of daylight below their fragile alloy oil pans. Older and newer model Golfs and Jettas have considerably better clearance, but most TDIs on the road now are the middle models. I can't speak to the Passat, but that's a heavier car to haul with the same engine, and most of these are crippled with automatic transmissions.
If I were you, I'd test the waters. Buy a '97-98 Jetta for $6 grand and tow with it awhile. If it meets your needs, keep it, but if not, you'll always find another buyer. Then go get a Forester, which will give you a significant mileage boost --mine gets 18 mpg towing at 60-65 mph and 25-28 unhitched, on the open road. And it's closer to the size and fun of the Mini, compared to your Caravan.