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Oily Goodness: Jetta TDI - DrivingScene

Categorized | Reviews

Oily Goodness: Jetta TDI

Posted on 19 November 2012 by Adam Kaslikowski

Would you trade a four-course meal for a Slim-Fast shake? Seeing an epic movie for reading the Cliff Notes? Partying with friends for Skyping with them? Of course you wouldn’t. So why would you take the those same watered-down routes and choose the Prius over a torquey and delicious diesel. Millions have. The car above is what they should have chosen.

The car I’ve been given for a week is the VW Jetta TDI, and let’s not muck about –  it’s fantastic. You name it and I love it – and you will too. Trunk? Several ladies-of-the-night enormous. Backseat? Comfy as a best Western Hotel and without the bedbugs. Volkswagen should be paying me for this review because I frickin’ love this car.

Show me another vehicle that so deftly combines comfort, luxury, style, speed, AND fuel economy. You do that and I’m sure I’ll love that car too. And this isn’t just me, people have been lining up at dealerships  to step inside the leather wrapped interior and partake this Jetta’s pavement crushing torque.

On the road the TDI is like any other Jetta – planted and quiet. Add in the bonus of the 2.0 litre’s 236 lb-ft of torque to get you on your way and you’re left with a very capable machine. The horsepower figure of 140 may seem small by today’s standards, but you have to remember that horsepower’s important at freeway speeds – torque is king for getting your fat ass from 0 to 60. The steering is a little more numb than I like, but that’s true of 90% of modern cars I drive. Like every VW, the 6-speed manual is crisp and rewarding with every gear change. What’s it like driving a diesel? Total non issue here. It goes when I want it to go, stops when things get risky, turns sharply, and even rewards with little tire-chirps when you’re a bit too heavy-footed. The TDI engine is known for its lagginess down low, but this never pops up if you just equip the car with the manual transmission I have here. Having driven the automatic, trust me that row-your-own is the way to go on the TDI.

I’ll leave exterior judgments to the eye of the beholder; I found the curves and creases rather catching in the flesh. The Toffee Brown Metallic my car was delivered in may sound 80’s-esque, but in reality it gifted the Jetta some maturity that would be missed in your garden-variety silver. Overall the proportions are good and I never spied any awkward angles on the car.

Inside you’re greeted with that familiar VW cabin quality – great swaths of soft leather and upscale switches. You want negatives? Well the shift-boot frame was already broken on my car and the major let down with the interior is the hard plastic that covers all but the frequent touch points.

The back seats offer an enormous amount of room for your passengers/kids/hostages. The layout and grouping of the switches is fairly intuitive and I was able to figure everything out – including the unlabeled auxiliary music source feature – in my first two days without ever reading the manual. Overall it’s a classic VW interior, and you’re reminded why they are ranked as one of the best at this.

Somehow Wolfsburg has been able to package this lovely engine, good looks, and reasonably solid interior for $23K. I never did wrap my head around that low price. I’ve paid almost as much for a used car and the thought that I could’ve had this instead is staggering to me. Unluckily for me to TDI wasn’t on offer then. Lucky for you it is now. This is the kind of car you’ll love equally from day one to day 1,001. Given the fact that previous Jettas have aesthetically aged well, held strong resell values (although it’s too early to tell what the diesel engine will do for that) and the strong aftermarket support available – run don’t walk and get yourself a test drive. I mean unless you really wanted that Prius.

– Adam Kaslikowski