2011 Volkswagen Jetta Long-Term Road Test


2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Something Wrong?

August 01, 2011

vw_jetta_service.JPG Back in early July, Mark wrote a post noting some issues of refinement he had about our Jetta's TDI engine. These boiled down to: 1) delayed throttle response; 2) elevated amounts of engine noise; 3) elevated amounts of engine braking; and 4) occasional sputtering or stuttering when coming to a stop.

I've been driving our Jetta TDI for a couple weeks now. And while the Jetta doesn't seem to necessarily have anything wrong with it, I've also noticed some of these same issues. So just to ensure we weren't dealing with a bum car, last week I took our Jetta to a dealer to have it checked out.

I made an appointment at Michael Volkswagen in Fresno, Calif. When calling for the appointment, I was upfront that I worked for Edmunds.com and the car was on loan for Volkswagen. That's not the way we normally operate, but I wanted to make sure I got the access I needed. The service advisor was very helpful and hooked me up with the shop foreman.

Once I arrived, I gave the key to the foreman and we took the Jetta for a test drive. I told him the issues we've noticed and asked him to see if he noticed them as well. He agreed with the throttle response and engine braking but said they were normal for the car. As for the engine noise, he said it sounded normal. He didn't notice any sputtering when coming to a stop.

vw_jetta_engine.jpg After the drive, he brought the Jetta into the service area. He ran a diagnostic on the car (everything normal) and let me compare our Jetta to a previous-generation Jetta TDI he happened to have in the service bay. We both agreed that with the hoods open and standing outside the car, the new Jetta's engine was a little bit noisier. But with the hoods closed and sitting inside the cars, both Jettas sounded pretty much the same in terms of sound level.

The upshot: our Jetta TDI checked out normal. But to add some second opinion, here are my thoughts on the items Mark mentioned.

1) Throttle response: I pretty much agree with Mark here. It's usually instances when you're ina light throttle situation and suddenly apply more throttle. But because it's DSG, it's easy to negate by using the sport mode or by manually selecting the gear.

2) Engine noise. Overall, I don't think our Jetta's engine is any worse than our old Jetta's. When the engine is cold, sure, it certainly sounds like a diesel. And I will say it might be a little more prone to rattling at low engine rpm, say below 1,500. (Incidentally, this might be aggravated by the DSG transmission, which upshifts to sixth gear pretty readily. So in city driving, around 40 mph or so, you can hear it more.) But overall our Jetta is still pretty quiet on the highway.

3) Engine braking. This is most certainly caused by the DSG. When braking and coming to a stop, the DSG downshifts around 15 mph, and that brings about extra engine braking that can make you come up short of your intended stopping point. Honestly, I can't remember if our old Jetta TDI with the DSG also did this. But it also hasn't bothered me. And one other editor on staff I asked about it said he actually liked the extra engine braking.

4) Sputtering. I haven't noticed this at all.

So, overall, I'll back Mark up on three of his four observations. Interestingly, points 1 and 3 are almost certainly related to the DSG. So if you had the manual you likely wouldn't encounter them. But I haven't been bothered by them that much, either, so I guess that's part of the reason why I'd buy the DSG.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,939 miles

(Special thanks to Kyle and John at Michael Volkswagen for their very courteous help.)

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta in VA is:

$147 per month*
* Explanation
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