2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE: Track Tested
New Engine, New Suspension, New Results?
Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Edmunds Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.
Volkswagen's 2.5-liter five-cylinder was a trooper. Cheap and reliable and not too bad on fuel, a 170-horsepower version found itself pinned between the strut towers of current-gen Volkswagen Jettas with SE or SEL badging. But it was an odd configuration, and saying it sounded "different" is being kind. Now it's gone.
In its place in the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE is an all-new iron-block 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 170 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque. Not only does this motor provide the same horsepower and more torque than the outgoing five-banger, but with EPA estimates of 29 mpg combined (25 city/36 highway), the 1.8 beats the old engine by 3 mpg combined, and 5 mpg on the highway.
Volkswagen wasn't content, however, to just drop in a new engine and call it a day. Nope. For 2014 it decided that the old twist-beam axle had to go. Now, like the Jetta GLI, all Jettas will come with a multilink rear suspension.
With a new suspension setup and a new engine, does the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE have new moves? We took it to the track to find out.
Vehicle: 2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE
Driver: Mike Monticello
Drive Type: Front engine, front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Six-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged, direct-injection four-cylinder
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,797/110
Redline (rpm): 6,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 170 @ 4,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 184 @ 1,500
Brake Type (front): 11.3-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 10.7-inch solid discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 205/55R16 91H
Tire Size (rear): 205/55R16 91H
Tire Brand: Continental
Tire Model: ContiProContact
Tire Type: Low rolling resistance
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,113
0-30 (sec): 2.6 (3.1 in D)
0-45 (sec): 4.7 (5.1 in D)
0-60 (sec): 7.4 (7.9 in D)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.1 (7.5 in D)
0-75 (sec): 10.6 (11.1 in D)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 15.3 @ 91.9 (15.6 @ 92.1 in D)
*Note: There is no way to disable traction or stability control. The fastest run was performed in Manual mode; Drive mode listed for comparison.
30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 118
Slalom (mph): 62.9
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.83
RPM @ 70: 2,000
Acceleration: What a terrific little engine and what an improvement over the naturally aspirated 2.5. This 1.8 turbo has good power right off the line, in part thanks to the true automatic as opposed to the hesitant DSG. Regardless, smooth, urgent power right to the 6,500-rpm shift point. Traction control can't be defeated; only got minor wheelspin. Overlapping throttle and brake at launch to bring revs to 1,800 produced the best time. Interestingly, it was quickest in "manual" mode (which still shifts for itself), as it short-shifted the 1-2 and 2-3 shifts at more like 6,000 rpm. Shifts were relatively quick and still smooth. Blips the throttle on manual downshifts (pull back for downshifts).
Braking: Firm pedal feel, though pedal travel was a bit on the long side. Tires seemed eager to grip. Considerable nosedive and therefore a light rear end with some minor side-to-side squirming. First stop was the shortest at 118 feet. Fourth stop was longest at 126 feet and the sixth and final stop was 123 feet. Big brake odor by the fifth stop.
Slalom: Steering isn't particularly precise or quick, in fact it's rather syrupy, and the Jetta's suspension needs bigger antiroll bars. Compound that with a stability control system that can't be defeated in any fashion (not even traction control) and this isn't one of the more rewarding experiences. It's just not sporting in any way. But then, it is a volume-engine Jetta, so maybe I was expecting too much from the chassis.
Skid Pad: Again, not much you can do here, as the stability control system is constantly intervening. The Jetta leans WAY over, punishing the outside front tire.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.