2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Nine Month Review and Report

By Jonathan Spira on 19 November 2011
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While we only picked up our long-term 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI back in February of this year, our relationship with the new built-for-America Jetta started in the summer of 2010, when The Diesel Driver was the only U.S. publication invited to drive the diesel Jetta at the press launch.

Designed specifically for the American market, the new Jetta is bigger and less expensive than its predecessor.  It’s longer, which translates into a more spacious interior both in the front and rear.  It has more shoulder room, leg-room in the rear (2.7” to be exact).  The trunk, with 15.5 cubic feet of space, is larger than one of VW’s targeted competitors, the Toyota Corolla, but it’s a drop smaller than the previous Jetta’s.

The diesel is at the top of the Jetta line-up along with Jetta SEL so it comes very well equipped.  Standard equipment includes a sunroof, heated mirrors, heated front seats, excellent Bluetooth connectivity, and Sirius satellite radio with 3 month complimentary service.   The only options are a navigation system that we didn’t get, which comes with different trim and enhanced Bluetooth display, fog lamps, the DSG transmission (more on that in a moment), and keyless start/stop and access.


Our 2011 Jetta TDI came with the same 2.0-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine that was in the previous-generation Jetta TDI – which is also the same engine that gave Volkswagen a Guinness World Record for Lowest Fuel Consumption.

The engine is capable of 140 hp and 236 pound-feet (320 Newton-meters) of torque.  Given that the TDI starts at $22,525 and comes with all of the features of the SE with the convenience package and the sunroof, the additional cost of the diesel engine is only $1,340, a figure that will be recouped rather quickly thanks to the TDI’s 27% better fuel economy.

It’s interesting to note that the Jetta TDI can go faster than other 2011 Jettas (209 km/h or 130 mph versus 204 km/h or 127 mph for the petrol SE/L and 193 km/h or 120 mph for the Jetta S).  It can make it from 0 to 60 mph in 8.7 seconds, a figure that is a tad slower than the last Jetta we tested back in 2009.   On the plus side, fuel economy for the 2011, however, is improved by roughly 5%.

We specified our Jetta TDI to come with Volkswagen’s DSG transmission, something worth looking at for a moment. Despite our preference for manual transmissions, the DSG, which stands for Direkt-Schalt-Getribe or Direct-Shift Gearbox in English, is exceptionally well matched to the engine. It’s an electronically-controlled manual gearbox without a clutch pedal and it can be operated in full automatic or semi-manual mode.

I’ve found that the DSG provides a responsive yet frugal drive. In manual mode, it was great for fast shifting in the Shoreline Highway’s twisties although I would much preferred to have had paddle shifters.

The EPA figures tell us that the 2011 Jetta TDI uses only 7.8 l/100 km (30 mpg) in the city and a mere 5.6 l/100 km (42 mpg) on the highway – and this figure doesn’t change if you opt for the DSG.

Click here to continue to Page 2 – Driving the Jetta TDI and Jetta TDI Interior

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