2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Trendline
2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Trendline
2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Trendline. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Lesley Wimbush

Thanks to a flu that seemed like a mutation of the ebola virus crossed with mad cow disease, it had been four days since I’d seen the outside of my house and I was itching for some fresh air.

The problem was, not only was most of Southern Ontario encased in a few inches of ice, so was my press car.

But I was determined to make the long trek into farm country to visit my horse, who had been confined to her stall since the beginning of the ice storm and was probably experiencing the same level of cabin fever that I had.

The landscape was pretty as a picture-postcard, but positively lethal, as accidents were reported in the multitudes, and thousands were still without power.

To make matters worse, several of my colleague’s social media updates featured stories of $100,000 press cars sliding down driveways and into the road, electronic systems packing it in due to extreme cold, and diesel sports cars being sent back on flatbeds.

And my press car – the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, was a diesel-powered car that had sat for days on end through one of the most wretched winter storms on record.

I needn’t have worried. The Jetta fired up like a champ, purring smoothly while I chipped away at the crystalline armour encasing its windows. That’s one of the most notable things about this little oil-burner: there’s none of the tell-tale clatter of its predecessors. Other than a tiny bit of chugging at cold start-up, the 2.0L TDI runs almost as quietly as any direct-injection turbo gasoline engine.

Although Volkswagen manufactures some 14 different powertrains, from traditional combustion engines to full-on electric and plug-in hybrids – they’ve been promoting their clean diesel engines as one possible solution for thrifty Canadians.

They’ve been selling diesels since the 1970s, and clean diesels now comprise 28 percent of their sales. Some 50 percent of all Touaregs, Passats, and Golf Wagons sold are diesel-powered.

Last year we took part in a VW cross-Canada tour featuring their entire diesel lineup, and other than the Touareg, which featured a 3.0L TDI V6, they were all powered by the same engine found under the hood of this week’s press car. For 2014, the Jetta is now available with TDI on all its trim levels, where previously it was available only on the range-topping models.

2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Trendline2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Trendline2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Trendline
2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Trendline. Click image to enlarge

It’s a fairly utilitarian Trendline model, which although quite comfortable, is never going to be accused of luxuriousness. Outwardly, the Jetta is attractive, yet conservatively styled. There’s nothing superfluous about its clean, blocky lines, it’s absolutely, resolutely Germanic in design. The 15-inch standard steel rims don’t do much for the Jetta’s appearance; moving up through the trim lines adds larger and much prettier multi-spoke alloys.

It seems surprising that the Jetta is a compact, since it appears and behaves like a larger sedan. Despite its small, maneuverable size, the Jetta makes a great family vehicle with 440 L of trunk space – more than the Corolla, Focus, Civic or Cruze.

2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Trendline
Flashing on 2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Trendline. Click image to enlarge

Inside, the cabin is very simple, and as mentioned before, not at all luxurious. Having been blasted in the past for their shoddy, dated interior quality, Volkswagen has improved the Jetta’s cabin quite a bit – although there are still the odd bits of flashing on plastic edges around the gauge bezel.

Seating is power adjustable, supportive and covered with durable upholstery.

It’s a comfortable, well-functioning space, however, and the switchgear and centre console are ergonomically logical if not stylish. There’s no navigation, no fancy touchscreen and the tiny display is only a step above the one in my 20-year-old hatchback. But there’s a nice little trip computer between the gauges, and an $800 connectivity package that easily accepts my Blackberry. There is a stereo, and it does make noise. Higher trim lines receive a really decent Fender sound system, but it’s part of a $1,570 Technology package.

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