2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportwagenEnlarge Photo
The Jetta diesels were surrounded mainly by gasoline/electric hybrids in the top 10 grouping. Mark Barnes, COO of Volkswagen of America, Inc. praised his company’s clean diesel models, saying they offer “a true no compromise deal for consumers – comfort, economy, and performance.”
While we haven’t done a full test of the new Jetta TDI, we did a brief drive and came away quite impressed. From a wall of torque available just off idle, the remarkable operation of VW/Audi’s optional six-speed DSG transmission, and a four-cylinder that’s arguably as smooth and refined as its gasoline competitors, THE VW Jetta TDI did, indeed, seem to offer all of the benefits of a frugal with none of the detriments of a diesel. Today’s modern diesels are thoroughly competitive powerplants that just happen to burn a fuel that’s packed with some 30 percent more energy than gasoline.
Volkswagen has been doing lots of publicity to raise awareness about the economy and drivability of its new diesel models. It recently enlisted the help of the Taylors, an Australian mileage-setting couple, who netted a remarkable 58.85 mpg on an 8,000-mile cross-country trip in a Jetta TDI. In part, this helps mitigate the EPA’s rating for the vehicle of 29/40 mpg; Volkswagen and others have found this rating to be lower than the vehicle gets in real-world conditions. Volkswagen also hired independent testing agency AMCI to conduct its own fuel mileage tests with the Jetta TDI, and they rated the vehicle at 38/44 mpg.
If all of the above don’t convince you that the Jetta TDI is a good buy, then consider the $1,300 Federal Income Tax Credit you’re eligible for after purchasing one. Both Jetta TDIs qualify for the Advanced Lean Burn Technology Motor Vehicle Federal income tax, and even without urea injection like its Mercedes, BMW, and Audi diesel competition. Further proof that diesels are no longer the smoky, smelly, slow beasts of yore.--Colin Mathews