A Simple Plan From A Simple Man - 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Long-Term Road Test

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Long-Term Road Test

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: A Simple Plan From A Simple Man

November 10, 2011

TDI at Ritz.jpg

Like some others on staff, I've developed my own driving habits/shifting methods for the Jetta TDI. I don't dislike the car, it's just that the usually terrific DSG does not work quite as well in TDI form as it does in other VWs, hampered also by imperfect throttle calibration.

Basically I run the TDI in Sport mode almost all the time (Drive mode is way too lazy), enjoying the DSG's ultra-quick upshifts and willingness to hold gears a respectably long amount of time. It also downshifts obediently when I need more power. For any and all on/off-ramps or any turn of consequence, I switch to manual mode to make sure I'm in the correct gear at corner apex, much appreciating the nice throttle blips on downshifts. And this Sport mode is smart enough to know it should get into top gear on the highway. Not all do.

Where the TDI gets annoying for me is in stop-and-go or almost-stopped-but-still-going traffic, specifically 5-15 mph running. In this setting the TDI becomes extremely jerky when going either on or off the throttle. So when traffic gets really slow, I switch it back to standard Drive which, although laggardly in responses, greatly smoothes things out. What do I care if it's laggardly? I'm going slow anyway because I'm sitting in traffic. I just have to remember to switch it back to Sport or manual if I'm about to change lanes and need the transmission to quickly respond with a lower gear. That is, if I don't want to get rammed by the car bearing down on me.

While this might seem like a lot of moving the lever around, it's really not a big deal and for me it just became part of the TDI process.

But here's my simple plan:

Since we're about to hit 15,000 miles on the TDI, I propose we trade this DSG model in for a six-speed manual. Then we can see for ourselves how much better we like the manual version over the next 10,000 or so miles.


Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 13,834 miles.

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