High mpg, Low Refinement - 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Long-Term Road Test

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Long-Term Road Test

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: High mpg, Low Refinement

July 07, 2011


I'm not the kind of guy who whines about a lack of comfort or refinement. But I won't hesitate to point out when a car falls short of the mark. As I made my way home last night, I was struck by our diesel-powered long-term Jetta's lack of refinement.

Besides the delay between throttle application that I noted earlier, there's no mistaking this VW as a diesel. The rattle from under the hood is not just noticeable, it's downright prominent. I can almost feel and hear each combustion stroke at idle. That's all fine on a Harley, but in a Jetta? No. Under acceleration, that rattle gets louder. So loud, that you might think something is wrong with the car.

Then there's the deceleration. Lifting off the pedal results in a significant amount of engine braking. So much, that it reminds me of our MiniE's regenerative braking. I was consistently on and off the brake pedal because the car was being slowed by the engine in a rather unpredictable manner. I'd brake as I normally would, then the car would chug to a stop, well short of my intended spot.

On top of that, every now and again, the diesel would produce a strong sputter and shudder as I rolled to a stop. It was so strong, that it felt like a start/stop motor, except most cars with this feature do it much more smoothly. As I tried to work around these quirks and adapt, I was so disenchanted that I fully expected the Jetta to start belching a thick cloud of black smoke.

But what really bugged me was the fact that our last TDI didn't seem to suffer from any of these ills. Seems like this might be a step backwards.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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