2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Road Test Review

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Rear seating area is roomy. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

With an Audi-like profile, the Jetta has an upscale look when compared to most compact rivals. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Stylish new 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is doing well on the sales charts for obvious reasons. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

The new Jetta looks right at home in better neighbourhoods. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

Premium look makes for an appealing interior, although plastics quality isn't as nice as the old Jetta. (Photo: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press)

Published on November 15, 2011

Published on November 15, 2011

And if most of those buyers have opted for this TDI variant, I can understand why they're all giddy about their new car. This thing is cheap to run! With an estimated rating of 6.7 L/100km city and 4.6 highway via either its 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission, the latter featuring manual-mode via its shift lever albeit no paddles on the steering column, the Jetta TDI is one of the thriftiest compact cars on the market. And keeping my wallet filled is a sure way to put a grin on my face.

The new Jetta has been praised for including standard electronic stability and traction control although it's also come under fire for not incorporating a fully independent rear suspension in anything lower than the just released 2012 GLI, and I have to admit the TDI is not quite as agile as the outgoing model when push comes to shove, hopping a bit on mid-turn bumps. Under normal conditions though, you should hardly notice a difference and the TDI's standard 16-inch alloys on 205/55R16 all-season rubber should help it feel more connected than the 15s on the base model.

The TDI is hardly base, mind you, witnessed by its $23,875 price tag, up significantly from the entry-level Jetta Trendline's $15,875 MSRP, not including the $1,365 destination fee. The automatic transmission ups the sticker to $25,275. Additional TDI features that come as part of the standard Comfortline trim level include side-thorax and side-curtain airbags, ABS brakes, air conditioning, auto up/down powered windows, keyless remote entry, heated mirrors, a tilt and telescopic steering column, variable intermittent wipers, heated washer nozzles, a six-speaker CD/MP3 audio upgrade with auxiliary input, cruise control, a front centre armrest with storage, illuminated vanity mirrors, dual rear cupholders, 60/40 split-folding rear seat with centre pass-through for skis, and 6-way manually-adjustable heated cloth seats.

The "Cornsilk Beige" Vienna leather on my tester came as part of the Highline package, at $26,655 plus destination for the manual and $28,055 for the automatic, as did a sweet set of multi-spoke 17-inch alloy rims on 205/45R17s. Highline trim also includes proximity sensing keyless access and pushbutton ignition, Bluetooth phone connectivity that worked very well, a multifunction steering wheel, multifunction trip computer, Sirius satellite radio, iPod interface, and the matte chrome interior trim I spoke of earlier.

If you've decided to take advantage of the new lower priced Jetta I'd recommend stepping up to the TDI, or at least the 170-horsepower inline-five. The base 2.0-litre engine is the least potent at 120-horsepower and thirstiest in its class at 9.6 L/100km city and 6.9 highway with its automatic, not a good combination, whereas the 2.5-litre isn't that much worse as far as mileage goes and actually better if you opt for the automatic with an estimated rating of 9.1 and 6.5 respectively, plus offers a lot more performance and refinement. The 2.0-litre turbo-diesel equipped Jetta, however, jumps off the line like a jackrabbit thanks to 236 lb-ft of torque from as low as 1,750 rpm! Power is only rated at 140, but don't let that lower number fool you as torque is what matters most when it comes to performance.

Performance can be measured in other ways too. How about cargo volume? At 438 litres (15.5 cubic feet) the new Jetta offers one of the most cavernous trunks in the compact segment, although some old Jetta owners might complain that the hinge mechanism doesn't feel as sturdy as the outgoing model. My guess is that it'll hold up just fine, and if it doesn't VW offers a longer basic warranty than most rivals at four years or 80,000 km, plus an average-length powertrain warranty of five years or 100,000 km.

No matter what I say you're either going to love the new Jetta's cheaper pricing or lament the loss of the older car's near-premium feel and driving experience. If you've already decided that you want one, however, I will try to talk you into the TDI. It's the clear choice if you can come up with the necessary coin. Then again, I haven't tried the 2012 Jetta GLI yet.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sedan, Volkswagen, VW, 2011, Jetta TDI, $20,000 - $29,999, Diesel,

Organizations: Volkswagen

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