2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE 1.8 Track Test on Edmunds.com
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2014 Volkswagen Jetta SE: Track Tested

New Engine, New Suspension, New Results?


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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
Odometer: 2,593
Date: 11/5/2013
Driver: Mike Monticello
Price: $23,985

Specifications:
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

Test Results:

Acceleration*
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.

Braking
30-0 (ft): 30
60-0 (ft): 118

Handling
Slalom (mph): 62.9
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.83

RPM @ 70: 2,000

Comments:

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.

Handling:

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.

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Comments

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    The old 5 cylinder was an interesting alternative to the high-strung torqueless little 1.8 liter engines of just a few years ago. But it was always about 10% slower and 10% thirstier than it should have been, and those smaller 4 cylinders have improved. I'd love to hear the internal calculus that drove VW to create that oddball 5 cylinder for the American market rather than developing a more typical 4 cylinder. But kudos to VW for finding a superior replacement for the 5 cylinder. 7.4 seconds to 60 for a slushbox is quick, and 36 mpg is entirely acceptable. I'd gladly eat that 4mpg to have a compact that doesn't take 9-10 seconds. If VW has managed to achieve just average reliability with this car, I think you could argue that it is one of the best in the compact segment now. They've even put back some of the MkV interior niceties like the tilt/telescope center arm rest and power seatback recline. Although it looks like the independent rear suspension which enthusiasts have been screaming for didn't do a whole lot.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    I am impressed. If that 36mpg is actually achievable in normal highway driving that represents a HUGE improvement over the 1.8T/5-speed tiptronic combo in my recently sold MkIV Jetta. The best I ever did in that car was 26-27 on long flat cruise controlled 70mph highway stints. Subaru could take note too, what the Impreza needs is an engine with a torque curve like this one, not a hybrid that adds mostly cost and little extra fuel economy.

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    This engine sure seems better than the one it replaces, but let's not gush with praise over it. VW had a 1.8T making 180hp in their Jetta back in 2002. VW seriously lost its way with the Jetta several years ago and only now is starting to remember even part of where it was TWELVE YEARS AGO.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    darthbimmer, I'm quite fond of that 1.8T from a decade ago -- one of the best-sounding turbo 4's I've driven. But the real improvement here comes not with power but with efficiency. You're looking at a 6-7 mpg improvement over the earlier port-injected 1.8T. That's pretty significant.

  • themandarin themandarin Posts:

    Name Jetta continues to only imply speed

  • reminder reminder Posts:

    I just bought an SE last week. I currently have 300 miles on it. The review by Edmunds is quite accurate. I was 90% committed to buying a Mazda 6 up until a week before I read about the all new 1.8 motor. The Mazda in Touring trim would've put me a bit outside what I wanted to spend. Both VW & Mazda had the 0.9% financing, so that was a wash, but for a couple thousand less I decided to go with the VW. Never owned one before, but the new motor and the return of the fully independent suspension tipped the scale. It has that 'solid' feel that many have remarked about with other German cars. The motor does have nice power at low RPMs. Don't need to put the hammer down to go up steep grades. It up-shifts very early in the pursuit of MPGs, but the torque is solid enough to power through that tendency. Down shifts come quickly as well if you need to pick up the pace. I'm taking it easy on the motor this early on, but the engine is smooth & very quiet. I read as much material as I could find about this new motor and discovered that it is a completely new 1.8. Essentially just a down-sized version of the 2.0. VW uses a very thin cast iron block with weight reduction in mind. A more advanced cooling system the reroutes coolant in an effort to lower the temperature of the incoming air. Time will tell if it was a good decision. Hopefully, I didn't shoot myself in the foot.

  • emajor emajor Posts:

    "VW seriously lost its way with the Jetta several years ago and only now is starting to remember even part of where it was TWELVE YEARS AGO" Riding on a wave of styling and marketing success that was about to crash so hard following serious reliability problems that it would ruin the goodwill of American buyers for the next decade? I'll take the new VW. That 1.8T looks like a great volume engine. If you want the successor to the 2002 1.8T, go for the more powerful GLI.

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    I see the typo gremlins have been chewing at the site again. VW reckon max power is at 6200 RPM, not 4800 as stated in the article. I would buy that car if I were in that market. Having the turbo is essential for areas with any altitude.

  • vvk vvk Posts:

    Reading between the lines, this car is crap. The new engine makes things slightly more tolerable when equipped with automatic gearbox but that does not compensate for soggy, disconnected steering and atrocious body roll. Sounds just like my Passat. No thanks.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    The engineer in me appreciates the obvious technical improvement with the new engine, but personally I always feel a little sad when something unique goes away for something more conventional. Things like inline 5s and 6s, the Mustang's SRA, the Corvette's leaf springs, etc all made the automotive world a more interesting place, even if their replacements are "better".

  • stangmatt66 stangmatt66 Posts:

    Any chance we could get the 2.5's numbers side-by-side with the new results? Kind of hard to show the difference without showing the old numbers.

  • "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" Not sure what point you are trying to make here, but the 2.5 I5 never has been paired with a DSG, always the traditional auto.

  • shatner shatner Posts:

    Jetta is the car that makes all the secretaries at work cry when the get a call from their mechanic. "How much for a brake job?!!!"

  • shatner shatner Posts:

    I see the typo gremlins have been chewing at the site again. VW reckon max power is at 6200 RPM, not 4800 as stated in the article. I would buy that car if I were in that market. Having the turbo is essential for areas with any altitude. ______________ A turbo stinks at high altitude....

  • rushsaga rushsaga Posts:

    15.3 1/4 mile? With a 6 speed Auto and a measly 1.8 Turbo? As fast as the fastest 4 cyl, 4 door "moderately priced midsize", manual tranny Honda Accord Sport? Nice Job VW! Right now you can get the same 2014 VW Jetta 1.8T SE with auto for $19.9K at carsdirect.....26/36 MPG

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