2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Click image to enlarge
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Volkswagen Canada

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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta

Still the only diesel-powered compact sedan priced under $30,000 in Canada, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI returns for 2011 with an all-new sedan bodystyle, a new interior, and a new unit body platform that, for the first time, is not shared with the Golf.

Perhaps of equal importance to buyers is that the 2011 Jetta TDI’s suggested retail price has dropped by more than $3,000: from $27,175 to $23,875 (Comfortline trim), and from $30,875 to $26,655 (Highline trim) (last year’s base Jetta TDI Trendline trim is not offered this year). However, keen observers will notice that some standard features were deleted or made optional for 2011: in the Comfortline trim, the premium radio with six-CD player, touch-screen, and satellite radio is now part of an option package ($1,300), and the power reclining driver’s seat is now manually operated; in the Highline, standard leather upholstery has been replaced by “leatherette”. Leather seats are now optional ($895), but at the time of this writing, were not yet available. As well, rear side airbags, which were standard, are no longer offered. Still, despite some de-contenting, the 2011 TDI’s much lower price makes it a better value – not to mention the fact that it’s a brand new vehicle design.

Sharing its new bodystyle with the 2011 Jetta 2.0L, 2.5L and the upcoming GLI, the 2011 Jetta TDI is longer (by 74 mm) than last year’s model, and marginally wider and lower in height (by 3 mm and 6 mm respectively). Most of the Jetta’s extra length is in the wheelbase which is 73 mm longer, resulting in a significant 69 mm (2.7 in.) increase in rear legroom.

But though it’s a bigger car, the Jetta TDI is about 13 kg (29 lbs) lighter, weighing in at 1456 kg when equipped with the automatic transmission. Powered by the same 140-hp 2.0-litre DOHC 16-valve TDI (turbocharged direct injection) four-cylinder diesel engine as last year and equipped with the same standard six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed DSG (direct shift gearbox) automatic Tiptronic transmission, the 2011 Jetta TDI offers about the same fuel economy as the 2010 model – that is to say, fantastic!

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Click image to enlarge

Natural Resources Canada Energuide ratings (L/100 km) for the 2011 Jetta TDI are 6.7/4.6 city/hwy (automatic transmission) – but more realistic fuel economy numbers come from the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency): 7.8/5.6 city/hwy with either the six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic.

Just so you know, 2011 Jetta TDI diesel models are capable of running on B5 bio-diesel (95 per cent petroleum and 5 per cent renewable diesel) which helps reduce carbon dioxide emissions slightly. VW is the first manufacturer to warranty B5 biodiesel – all you have to do is find a fuel station that sells some.

Those who’ve driven VW’s diesel-powered automobiles will know that, contrary to popular belief, they are not underpowered. VW’s 2.0-litre TDI engines have more torque than their 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre gas engine counterparts – 236 pound-feet starting at just 1,750 rpm – and this means excellent throttle response, particularly in the zero to 50 km/h range. From a stoplight, you’ll leave most cars standing still and their drivers wondering what the heck a TDI is. Even in the much-hyped zero to 100 km/h acceleration test, the 2011 Jetta TDI can match a Jetta 2.5 with a 170-hp five-cylinder engine with a time between 8.5 and 10 seconds, depending on which publication you read. Still, according to The Diesel Driver, the 2011 Jetta TDI is a bit slower to 100 km/h than the 2010 Jetta TDI, but only by about two-tenths of a second.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Click image to enlarge

In steady-state driving around town and on the highway, the high-torque turbocharged diesel engine likes to stay below 2,000 rpm most of the time, and even when accelerating, gear changes often happen below 3,000 rpm, thanks in part to the high-tech six-speed dual clutch DSG (direct shift gearbox). The diesel engine’s low revving nature is one reason its fuel economy is so good, as the engine never has to work very hard.

The engine is quiet while cruising, even at 100 km/h, but you will notice the clatter of the diesel engine while it’s idling, even with all the windows closed. Engine noise while accelerating is less abrasive. Overall, I found it very quiet, except at idle.

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