TEST DRIVES

Around the Block: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SE

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I always get excited when I look at my press vehicle schedule and see a new turbodiesel model from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi or Volkswagen. The German brands have rightly determined that to achieve max fuel economy and performance, turbodiesel technology is good way to go. Look no further than Audi, which has owned the iconic 24 Hours of LeMans endurance race held every year in France. Audi has been winning with technology, starting the trend with turbo diesels that re-wrote the rules for the race.

Well little brother Volkswagen (VW) has benefitted immensely from this corporate diesel savvy, as their Rabbit, Jetta and Passat models over the years are also cult favorites. Ever pulled up beside a VW diesel and smelled French fries? Well, that car was converted to run on recycled waste oil from restaurants. Diesel technology has amazing flex-fuel capability.

So why do I get excited? Because I know that with about 45 mpg (highway) being typical for a VW oil-burner, I will laugh when I pass the suckers waiting in line at gas stations. Road trips can be accomplished with minimal time spent refueling.

The Car

The 2015 VW Jetta TDI is all VW, and that’s really good. It means that the car has one of the cleanest interior designs in the business. My tester was the SE trim level with “Connectivity,” which is VW speak I guess for Bluetooth and other telematics goodies. Here’s the interior in a nutshell: Firm, but comfortable, supportive seats; Piano Black and faux aluminum trim that fits like Bentley assembled it; clean information screen design with simple-but-effective touch screen selectivity; easy-to-use rotary knobs for heating and cooling functions; plenty of storage nacelles for phones and such; and a glove box that actually holds something bigger than a pair of gloves.

There may be other brands that give you a few more bells and whistles, but I challenge you to find another brand outside of Audi that gives you an interior layout better thought out than that in all Jettas gas or diesel. Standard features on the SE trim level include:

  • Power tilting/sliding tinted sunroof
  • 16″ Arlington alloy wheels
  • Rearview camera
  • Media Device Interface with iPod cable
  • Touchscreen sound system with HD Radio, MP3 and WMA-compatible in-dash CD player, AM/FM/SiriusXM radio
  • Volkswagen Car-Net connected car features
  • Leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel
  • Push-button start
  • Heated front seats
  • 60/40-split folding rear seat with center armrest and pass-through with integrated cupholders
  • V-Tex leatherette seating surfaces
  • 8-way manually-adjustable driver seat including lumbar support; front passenger seat, 6-way manually-adjustable

On the Road

The Jetta TDI driving experience takes a little while to get used to. Gearing on the Jetta TDI is slanted towards economy, not performance, so firm inputs with the right foot are needed to motivate the 2.0 liter, four cylinder turbodiesel outputting 150 horsepower. A 6-speed DSG automatic transmission with Tiptronic and Sport mode handles shifting duties. A 6-speed manual tranny is also available. Remember when manual transmissions were standard and fancy automatics optional? I miss those days!

Ride quality is excellent, with the TDI handling metropolitan road disasters with aplomb. Highway comfort is even better, with the excellent seats complementing the supple suspension.

Highs and Lows

+ Excellent value

+Always a top safety pick

+Super fuel economy

+Superb ergonomics

+Lots of trunk space

+VW has expanded warranty protection on all models

+No “Lows” worth mentioning!

Verdict

The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SE is perhaps the perfect sedan for a young family. With top level safety and low operating expenses, consider this a “best bet” for a super reasonable price of $25,995. Equally safe but less thrifty gasoline powered Jettas start at just $17,235.

 

 

 

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