Track Tested: 2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen SEL


2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen SEL

Edmunds.com tests hundreds of vehicles a year, but not every vehicle gets a full write-up. The numbers still tell a story, though, so we present "Track Tested." It's a quick rundown of all the data we collected at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

The diesel-powered Jetta TDI wagon has gotten most of the attention, but Volkswagen also builds a Jetta wagon equipped with its torquey and fuel-efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged, gasoline four-cylinder. Rated at 200 horsepower, the 2.0T is only available on the top-of-the-line VW Jetta SportWagen SEL. With a six-speed manual gearbox, it has a fuel economy rating of 21 mpg city/31 mpg highway. And all Jetta wagons have 67 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

This particular 2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen SEL is loaded with options, resulting in a borderline uncomfortable price tag. Fortunately, it's over a second quicker to 60 mph than our long-term VW Jetta TDI sedan, which weighs about the same. With our SEL wagon's port-installed 18-inch wheels and 225/40R18 Goodyear Eagle GT tires, it's hardly shocking that it stops shorter than our Jetta TDI sedan, too. What is surprising is that this SEL wagon is over a mph slower through the slalom than the TDI -- those grippy tires don't work well with the stock suspension tune.

Follow the jump for numbers and comments from our test driver.

Vehicle: 2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen SEL
Odometer: 3,941
Date: 8/18/09
Driver: Chris Walton
Base Price: $26,765
Options: Navigation System ($1,990), 18-inch Black Karthoum Alloy wheels ($1,799 -- port option), Ground Effects Kit ($1,699 -- port option), Panoramic Sunroof ($1,300), Rear Side Airbags ($350)
As-Tested Price: $33,903

Specifications:
Drive Type: Front-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 6-speed manual
Engine Type: Turbocharged inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,948 (121)
Redline (rpm): 6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 200 @ 5,100-6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 207 @ 1,800-5,000
Brake Type (front): 11.3-by-1.0-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Brake Type (rear): 10.2-by-0.5-inch solid disc with single-piston sliding caliper
Steering System: Electric-assist power rack-and-pinion steering
Suspension Type (front): Independent McPherson struts, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Tire Size (front): 225/40ZR18 92W
Tire Size (rear): 225/40ZR18 92W
Tire Brand: Goodyear
Tire Model: Eagle GT
Tire Type: All-season
Wheel Size: 18-by-8 inches
Wheel Material (front/rear): Aluminum alloy
As tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,381

Test Results:
0 - 30 (sec): 2.9 (3.2 traction control on)
0 - 45 (sec): 4.9 (5.3 traction control on)
0 - 60 (sec): 7.7 (8.1 traction control on)
0 - 75 (sec):  10.9 (11.5 traction control on)
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph): 15.6 @ 89.9 (16.0 @ 88.0 traction control on)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 7.4 (7.8 traction control on)
30 - 0 (ft): 29
60 - 0 (ft): 117
Braking Rating: Good
Slalom (mph): 62.9
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.84
Handling Rating: Poor
Db @ Idle: 39.6
Db @ Full Throttle: 75.6
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 64.5

Acceleration Comments: Launching this car is a bog-or-boil affair. Getting just enough spin without hazing the tires is tricky. Big mid-range torque surge fades as rpm climb. Shifter is a little rubbery, but gates are well defined.

Braking Comments: Moderate effort, good feedback, good fade resistance, and yes, the good rubber works.

Handling Comments: Skidpad: Steering doesn't offer much feel for available grip or where the limit might be. Stability control (ESP) is not defeatable, and it limited throttle and then grabbed brakes. Note: On both clockwise runs, the oil sloshed to one side of the engine, producing a huge white cloud followed by noisy lifters. Slalom: Frankly, I'm a little shocked by the 63-mph average speed, because this wagon felt horrible through the slalom: Big yaw delay, followed by understeer, followed by oversteer, followed by ESP intervention. What a mess.

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