VW Jetta TDI test drive

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 I have driven the Jetta TDI before.
It was a 6 speed manual version. And I quite liked it.
Great mileage, quiet diesel, comfortable, and a really nice manual transmission.

I also drove a recent 1.8 Turbo version, also with the manual. And I liked that too.

Last week I got this Automatic version. With the DSG. That I usually hate.
So let’s see how it works in the Jetta Diesel.

 There is noting new inside. Still classic and roomy. Roomier than many more expensive cars, especially in the back.

 The only “new” detail I could notice was the metal trim. Which is now darker than before.
It also looks more like metal. Still not sure if it is or not…

 The version I drove was a loaded “Premium & Nav” model.
Which included a sunroof, GPS and the always great Fender Audio system.

 No leather. Just “leatherette”. (Fancy for vinyl) Which is actually fine by me.
Since I’m not especially crazy about killing animals to cover my car seats. Plastic will do just fine…

 VW does make great diesels. But they are still Diesels.

They are still noisier than regular gas engines. (No matter what some other reviewers are saying)
It’s obvious when cold. Even after a while, lower the windows at a red light when idling, and you know you’re driving a diesel.
Things become quiet when driving. It just settles into a “different” sound. Which  is is fine.

It also still smells a little bit. Not bad like the old diesels. But there is a smell.
Again, nothing you know while driving…

Overall, the Jetta is a fine driving car. But it doesn’t have that “heavy, solid” German car feel it used to have .
(Same with the current Passat actually)
There is nothing wrong, it’s just not that special anymore.
Like most new VWs, the steering is fine, if a bit light. It is still better than most. (Like the dead Nissan feel)

Now for the DSG.
It has to be the worst automatic transmission I have experience.
But it seems to vary. The Beetle 2.0 Liter I drove a while ago seemed a bit better. (Or maybe I just got used to it)

In this car, it is really bad.
Mostly while the car is in first.
Between the DSG and the Turbo lag from the engine, a smooth take off is almost impossible.
(There is nothing, then a rush of power.)
Same thing in reverse when slowing down to a stop.

It is just really weird and always feels like there is something wrong.
Things are fine once you get in 2nd gear. But shifting really doesn’t seem any faster than a regular automatic.
Speaking of “regular” automatics, what is wrong with them???
This thing doesn’t shift any faster and I don’t see any fuel saving from it.

It is rated at 30/42MPG.
I did reach about 30 in the city (A bit less than with the manual)
But , got much more than the official number on the Highway, with 51MPG.
Again, a bit less than with the 6 speed manual.

Another thing: I have no idea why the official HWY numbers on every single VW TDI models are always way off. Way under what people are actually getting.

Most people seem to be OK with the DSG. I have never really seen anyone complaining about it as much as I do. 
But I do have this problem in every single one I drive. It does vary a bit, but it’s always bad.
I guess people don’t really care…
Otherwise, the Jetta TDI is a fine car.
But its main competition is actually the “regular” Jetta with the new 1.8 Liter engine.
That new engine is rated at 26/36. But I actually got 28/43 in actual driving.
Which is getting pretty close to the Diesel version. For about $2000 less.
The new 1.8 Liter Turbo also uses cheaper Regular Gas.
And on the other side, the Hybrid version is actually great. The 7 speed DSG works much better when helped by an electric motor. And it does actually get 45 in both city and highway.
But if I was in the market for a Jetta, the 1.8 Liter is the one I would get.
It does have a nice Turbo rush. It is quick, quieter than the diesel. Cheaper to run and buy.
And around town, uses about the same amount of gas.

Here are a couple of pix of the revised 2015 Model.

Besides bumpers and headlights, the exterior is pretty much the same.
Inside it is still the same thing too. Except for some piano black trim and the steering wheel from the new Golf.

But the Diesel does come with a new engine. Still a 2.0 Liter. But is has more power and even better MPG. Which could factually get about 55MPG in real life driving.

Something I’ll have to try soon…

Conversation 10 comments

  1. Do you always drive the DSG with the A/C on? I've noticed in my 2012 GTI DSG, having the A/C on gives me what you describe, "There is nothing, then a rush of power." With the A/C off, power delivery is very smooth.

  2. Vince very good review on the diesel version of the Jetta. It's nice to know that VW under rates their fuel economy and that it exceeds it. This is much better than some auto manufacturers like Hyundai, who got caught lying about their exaggerated mileage claims.

    As to the interior of the 2015 Jetta, quite pathetic. It looks old, old, old and outdated. It seems VW can get by on being "German" and some buyers fall for it but for how much longer?

    Much better choices out there in my opinion.

  3. Vince,

    Official EPA HWY numbers are based on a driving loop that starts from a dead stop. The loop is more like a two-lane highway than an interstate. That's why a modern aerodynamic car will do better at a steady 75mph or so.

    I'm not crazy about the center console finish on this Jetta, although the two-tone interior is much nicer than recent Jettas I've experienced.
    I wonder if this interior will make it to dealerships. Last time I was car shopping, the VW dealer only had one Tiguan with a non-black interior (out of a hundred or so), and they couldn't find it on the back lot! They called me back weeks later to look at it, but it was too late (for them).

  4. Most likely reason EPA is lower is that highway cycle has a lot of acceleration points and diesels are most efficient at cruising at low RPM. One reason they are not nearly as good as hybrids in stop & go.

    Don't see really any cost gain with diesels in US unless you drive lots of highway miles. And then you also have the additive maintenance.

  5. Uninspired. Is VW trying to move in on Toyotas market: Cars for people who hate cars? If so, I think theyve done it. As for those of us who LIVE to drive… I think the 41MPG Turbo Dodge Dart makes this Jetta obsolete. And so do many of the offerings from Ford, Honda, Nissan, Chevy, Hyundai, etc. Sorry VW, this is an appliance for 60-year old book keepers and librarians.

  6. I don't really get your beef with DSG transmissions. Last summer I had a new Golf 6 1,4TSI 122HP Cabriolet for about a week with DSG. I went on a 310 mile (each way, on mountain roads) road trip and covered about 800 miles in that week. I completely fell in love with the DSG in combination with the 1,4TSI engine. The DSG was so blistering fast and in manual mode it gave you shifts instantaneously. It even blipped the throttle on upshifts. The 1,4TSI engine was also a jewel, so smooth and torquey for just having 122HP. I've since driven a 2010 Golf 1,4TSI 160HP remapped to 193HP, and that was also wonderful. I've also driven a 2012 Golf 1,6TDI 105HP with DSG and I must say I really like that transmission. All of these are the 7-Speed box, sop not sure if that's available on the US ? Maybe they're better than the 6-Speed DSG boxes ?

  7. We only have the 7 sped version here with the Jetta Hybrid. And it is great!
    (I just assumed it might have been because of the Electric motor help at low speed.)
    Here we only have the 6 speed . Which is from "bad but drivable" to "horrible".

    But since the US market seems to be an afterthought for VW, we don't get their latest stuff…. (Like a 7 speed DSG…)

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