First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Clean Diesel volkswagen first drives
First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Clean Diesel volkswagen first drives
First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Clean Diesel volkswagen first drives
First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Clean Diesel volkswagen first drives
2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Middleburg, Virginia – Arriving now in Canadian Volkswagen dealerships is the 2015 Jetta, a car that the VW press release trumpets as a “new model”. We won’t go that far. You’ll be hard pressed to tell the difference between this car and the 2014 model, such is the subtle refreshing of the front and rear fascias. The Passat-ish snout does indeed look a bit cleaner, and according to VW this new Jetta cuts through the air better too, helped along by new underbody panels and active grille shutters.

The real giveaway for this 2015 refresh will be the available bi-xenon headlights with requisite LED bling that gives the front end some extra sparkle.

Inside we see a few light brushstrokes too – new air vents, a nice piano-black-trimmed multifunction steering wheel and chrome-ringed instruments. Higher trim levels get ambient lighting, more chrome accents and piano black trim.

So visually, the 2015 Jetta takes a few baby steps towards a more premium experience. And so it has been with this latest generation Jetta that bowed as a 2011 model.

That car took heat for some blatant cost-cutting that burdened it with a hard plastic dash, rear drum brakes and a twist-beam rear suspension. Now all Jettas sport independent rear suspension, four-wheel disc brakes and, with the exception of the Trendline models, dashes rendered in soft touch plastics.

Go for the entry-level Trendline that bows at $14,990 and you’ll be powered by VW’s ancient 115-hp, 2.0L naturally aspirated eight-valve inline-four that came over on the Hindenburg and apparently cannot be killed.

They say when Armageddon hits, cockroaches will rule the world. My money is on this Vee-Dub 12-valve 2.0L four-pot.

But that bit of Precambrian hardware is not why we’re here in the beautiful rolling countryside of northern Virginia. The biggest news in Jetta-land is the implementation of VW’s all new EA288 2.0L TDI Clean Diesel turbo-diesel engine. The only thing carried over are the bore-centre measurements – those big machines that mill the holes in the blocks are bloody expensive, ya know.

Horsepower jumps from 140 to 150 horsepower, torque output remains a prodigious 236 lb-ft from 1,750 to 3,000 rpm and fuel economy is predicted to improve by seven percent. According to the new 5-cycle testing recently adopted by Transport Canada, the 2015 Jetta TDI with six-speed DSG returns 7.5 L/100 km city, 5.3 highway and 6.5 combined. The six-speed manual car is 7.7 city, 5.2 highway and 6.5 combined.

The big impetus behind this new oil burner is a more cost-effective modular construction and reduced emissions. With regards to the latter, the clever head design incorporates built-in “header” plumbing for faster warm up, trick variable valve timing, new injectors and a fuel delivery system that ramps up the max pressure from the previous 1,600 bar to 2,000 bar.

The biggest contributor to the cleanliness of this engine, which now exceeds North American Bin 5 and Euro 6 emission requirements, is the addition of an AdBlue exhaust treatment system – one these VW diesel four-bangers had previously done without.

Other cool technical bits include an intercooler built into the intake manifold, and all the exhaust gas treatment hardware, including the AdBlue, are nestled right against the engine.

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