CleanMPG Reviews the 2009 Canadian Jetta TDI Sedan

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by msantos, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    [​IMG] A Canadian perspective.

    [xfloat=left][/xfloat]Manuel Santos – CleanMPG – April 26, 2009

    2009 VW Jetta TDI Sedan - $24,275 Canadian to start and 6.8/4.8 L/100 Km City/Highway per the Transport Canada.

    There is no question about it; consumers are increasingly conscientious when it comes to automotive choices and the financial implications they involve. Questions about fuel economy and emissions echo in the minds of many new car buyers today, and manufacturers are compelled to invest heavily in their product line-ups -- not only to meet the added scrutiny of our times but also to improve long term survivability and reputation.

    If just one third of all light duty vehicles in the United States was diesel powered, crude oil consumption could be reduced by approximately 1.4 million barrels a day—equal to the U.S. daily imports from Saudi Arabia.

    With clear incentives and technology to take on the challenges of our times, Volkswagen presents their Clean Diesel TDI technology as the solution -- one we eagerly tested in the new 2009 Jetta TDI sedan.

    Let's get started, shall we?

    A handsome shape that is far more aerodynamic than its predecessors with a CD of only 0.31​

    2009 VW Jetta TDI Sedan - Testing and Review methodology

    Before we begin, please note that this is not another review of the TDI’s 0-60 MPH performance. If you were hoping to enjoy that type of review below you’ll be seriously disappointed. If however, you are interested in its 0-60 MPG performance then read on -- we think you'll be pleased with this vehicle's capabilities.

    Rather than pursuing the testing script so typical of other automotive media outlets, we chose instead to focus on what this particular vehicle offers in terms of fuel economy potential. For the purposes of this review, no testing methodology could reveal more of a vehicle’s potential than our trusty hypermiling toolkit.

    Sure -- we could have spent some time describing how powerful the car is when merging with speeding traffic (often at illegal speeds)... or how easily and quickly we can bleed kinetic energy in wasteful panic stops... but frankly, that would say nothing about this car's true fuel economy potential when driven responsibly and legally. You won't find such measurements here.

    Though we were given the opportunity to test this car in less than ideal Spring time temperatures, we Canadians are still up to a worthy fuel economy challenge. To get a good idea of what to expect on public roads, we took this 2009 Jetta TDI through a variety of driving scenarios ranging from stop-and-go commuting to highway driving. To round out the overview, we also ran it through our suburban roads -- which often provide good periods of slower speed commuting with few stops.

    Ensuring this review could withstand critical scrutiny, I invited Mike Sefton (an experienced TDI hypermiler) to take this car through its paces for an expert's analysis of the new model. You see, he's the owner of a sweet running 2001 Golf TDI and if you want the most mileage out of a Diesel in this part of the country, Mike is the guy to call. He not only answered my call but also had quite a bit to add to this review. You’ll find Mike’s excellent additions below.

    Finally, we configured and used the absolutely indispensable ScanGauge II (equipped with Linear Logic's latest firmware update) to help guide our throttle inputs and monitor the vehicle's fuel economy performance on all of our trips.

    Huh... Diesels and the ScanGauge.

    We configured our ScanGauge with the help of included documentation from Linear Logic. Engine displacement was set to 2.0 liters and we set the fuel type to Diesel-A. The only other option was to set it to Diesel-B, but this option not only did not apply (due to the type of vehicle), it produced wildly erratic FE values. Despite this, it was soon discovered that FE performance numbers (consumption rates and instantaneous fuel economy) reported by the ScanGauge were grossly inaccurate; we had to resort to calculating fuel economy by frequently topping off of the tank. Our best efforts to procure better results from the gauge were for naught.

    Mounting the ScanGuage was definitely easier than configuration and use proved to be in this particular vehicle...​

    Undeterred by unreliable readings obtained from our ScanGauge, we still found it indispensable not only as a guide for our accelerator manipulations, but also an indication of actions and conditions contributing to higher fuel consumption. You see, this particular TDI model's trip computer offers neither an instantaneous nor an average fuel consumption display. For that you will have to obtain the top trim level in the Jetta TDI lineup.

    2009 Canadian VW Jetta TDI Sedan Specifications

    The VW Jetta TDI’s pricing and specifications can be viewed in the CleanMPG - New Fuel Efficient Automobile Specifications forum in the following thread: 2009 Canadian VW Jetta TDI Sedan.

    2009 VW Jetta TDI Sedan - Ergonomics and driving comfort

    The Jetta TDI offers good support and a comfortable ride for someone my size, but then again at 5'11" I am not challenged for space in most cars. The driver controls are intuitive and within easy reach. However, despite seldom use I found the cruise control's user interface both dated and busy. Its functionality is aggregated in the left turning stalk lever -- a design decision which forced me to look twice every time I wished to use the turn signal to ensure I was doing the right thing. I suppose it just takes a bit of getting used to, but it is far from what I would characterize as user friendly.

    Visibility to the front is good (despite a high dash) and all around visibility offers unobstructed views of all quadrants for good safety.

    Low noise levels inside the cabin are a standout feature of this car, and I am absolutely amazed by how effectively Volkswagen has managed to control and reduce intrusive engine noise. This vehicle actually sports decibel levels quite comparable to those found in a modern day gasoline car.

    To quantify this characteristic, we performed an informal test by placing the 2009 model alongside Mike Sefton’s 2001 TDI Golf. Even though both generated similar sound levels when started and idling, the interior of the 2009 Jetta TDI was markedly quieter than the Golf’s. (I used the audio meter on my Canon HD camcorder to compare exterior and cabin sound levels). This gives the impression of a much more refined vehicle -- an impression which is not entirely unjustified, I might add.

    As Mike demonstrates, driver positioning, seat, and steering wheel adjustments are easy and effective
    while rear passenger space is both ample and comfortable... even with the front seats pushed back.

    2009 VW Jetta TDI Sedan - Cargo space and conveniences

    I found the cavernous trunk particularly impressive and with folding rear seats, total cargo capacity will easily satisfy the needs of most small families.

    The interior has a good assortment of cubby holes but none were sized for larger items. The same could be said of the cup holders, which unfortunately hold nothing more than a small bottle or cup. Likewise, the storage tray mounted on top of the dash will accommodate smaller items only.

    This picture does not do justice to the voluminous cargo capacity of the Jetta TDI Sedan.

    2009 VW Jetta TDI Sedan - Overall vehicle quality

    The vehicle appears solidly assembled and no unusual trim noises were heard when negotiating rough road surfaces. Many of the interior surfaces are pleasing to the touch but others are made of hard and dull plastic. The cloth seats also appear to be made of durable fabric, yet they are not particularly austere.

    2009 VW Jetta TDI Sedan - Driving impressions

    The 6 speed DSG AT Transmission - In my opinion, the 6 speed automatic transmission is the standout performer in this vehicle. When operated in automatic mode it is smooth and shifts very early, especially in an urban driving routine. Without a doubt this is a major technical asset since the 2.0 liter diesel engine can provide all the torque needed for such driving even at its lowest RPM. We really enjoyed seeing the actual gear shifts occur between 1500 and 1700 RPM -- the engine is not noisy and the shifts are not rough at all in this mode. The car is an absolute joy to drive when operated in this manner.

    When placed into its manual shift mode, the transmission changes the character of this vehicle entirely and turns it into a much rougher and less refined performer. Clearly, the manual shifting mode is not intended to be used by sensible (let alone ecologically) minded drivers. Instead, it appears to be configured to satisfy a more visceral and spirited form of driving. Unlike automatic mode, early up-shifting is difficult and very frustrating because it retains each gear much longer before allowing the shift to occur. A fuel conscious driver would NOT use this transmission mode at all, as it hurts any quest for fuel economy in the worst possible way, even at low throttle input.

    In the end, we conclude that any kind of fuel efficient manual control of this vehicle should be left to a true 5 or 6 speed manual transmission. :(

    The 2.0l TDI Diesel Engine - Starting this engine on a cold morning at -5C produces a fair amount of noise -- not atypical of the Diesel power plants we know. Use of a block heater is mandatory for quick and less noisy starts even for barely above freezing ambient temperatures. Much of this noise is effectively suppressed inside the passenger cabin (with the windows and doors closed), resulting in levels comparable to an average gasoline powered sedan.

    The power train package - For a fuel conscious driver this engine and transmission combination exhibits several noteworthy and welcome traits.

    For instance, coasting the vehicle is achieved without the usual resistive drag exhibited by the average automobile (due to engine braking). At first, it felt unnatural. Furthermore, when the driver lifts his/her foot off the throttle pedal the highest gear is retained and the engine goes into fuel cut mode. This allows the car to come very close to a neutral glide and as a result the distances covered during a powered coast can be quite phenomenal. Of course, this particular behavior is still not comparable to a soft glide performed in either a Prius or HCH-II since the 6 speed still induces far more drag when in “D.” Unlike those vehicles, the throttle pedal on the Jetta TDI is of no help in this scenario.

    The only way to remove all drag in a glide is to FAS or NICE-ON your way to a stop... but the later technique will cause the engine to burn fuel while the distance is covered.

    2009 VW Jetta TDI Sedan - Fuel economy results

    Bumper to Bumper – City driving: This was perhaps the most challenging aspect of the review. Compared to a hybrid vehicle (full or assist type hybrid), the TDI requires far more work to achieve good mileage.

    I had to throw every technique and skill I had available at it and in the process, I drove other motorists up and completely over the "Anger Hill". Of course, I use my entire skillset on a regular basis in my own vehicles but this car needs a lot more attention and effort to achieve the same goals. Still, both Mike and I managed to achieve 5.3L/100km after slightly more than 100km worth of this grueling driving. It is likely that the fuel consumption would have been significantly worse if we'd been a little less aggressive in the pursuit of good fuel economy. Considering the ambient temperatures we experienced were only 0-10C, this is clearly an indication that this car can be a worthy city commuter in the hands of a skilled driver. Be warned, though: you'll have to FAS your heart out to get the best from this car in stop-and-go traffic.

    Low speed urban commuting: This is one area where the car really excels as long as RPM is kept steady and low... and there aren’t too many stops in the commute. In this driving scenario, the 6 speed automatic transmission along with a careful foot on the throttle will be all you need to get great fuel economy. In approximately 90kms worth of this type of driving we observed a fuel economy of 4.2 L/100km -- quite good, all things considered. The aforementioned ScanGauge issues meant we saw exaggerated fuel consumption numbers that placed the car into the 6-8+ L/100km range, but subsequent tank top-off showed the car actually did a lot better.

    Highway driving: This is yet another area where the 2009 Jetta TDI does quite well. Of course, we kept our average speeds around 80 km/h in part because we wanted to keep the engine in the 1600 to 1800 RPM range. Higher speeds call for dramatically higher RPM and since the transmission begins using 6th gear as early as 60km/h, consumption only gets worse as speed mounts.

    We incurred approximately 160 km worth of highway driving under this regimen using fuel cut-off coasting and driving with load (allowing speed drops of 20-30km/h for small climbs). Accelerations and other minor ramp-ups in speed rarely exceeded the 2000 RPM threshold.

    Summary: Fuel economy

    Driving regimenAverage SpeedsDistance coveredAmbient TemperatureMeasured fuel economy (at pump)
    City (Stop-And-Go)0-50 kph100 Km11C (52F)5.3 L/100Km (44.3 MPG US)
    Suburban (Low speed)40-60 kph90 Km7C (44F)4.2 L/100Km (56 MPG US)
    Highway (High speed)80-100 kph160 Km0C (32F)4.1 L/100Km (57.4 MPG US)

    2009 Canadian VW Jetta TDI Sedan – DSGCityHighwayCombinedCleanMPG Observed Fuel Economy
    Canada6.8L/100 Km4.9 L/100 Km -- 4.5 L/100 Km
    US29 mpgUS40 mpgUS34 mpgUS52.6 mpgUS
    British Imperial34.7 mpgIMP48 mpgIMP40.8 mpgIMP63.1 mpgIMP
    Review Tank data: 356 km on 15.93 L = 4.48L/100 Km (52.6 mpgUS).


    The final result: We observed a fuel economy of 4.5 L/100 Km in ambient temperatures that were mostly quite close to the freezing point. Not bad at all and certainly very comforting -- particularly after observing the depressing numbers produced by our ScanGauge!

    2009 VW Jetta TDI Sedan - Conclusion

    • Very fuel efficient when compared to many of its gasoline powered competitors.
    • Huge trunk. Did I mention it was cavernous??
    • Very quiet passenger cabin. In fact you would swear it is NOT a diesel powered vehicle.
    • Soaks up the road imperfections very well, even when sporting tire pressures higher than the maximum pressure rating of the tires.
    • Great coasting distances due to its low power train drag and engine fuel cut off.
    • Smooth and efficient 6 speed automatic transmission. Very impressive.
    • If you hate space age and technology laden interiors like the ones in today hybrids, this car is definitely for you.
    • Good peripheral visibility.
    • Comfortable seats and generous seating accommodations.
    • No trip computer and no easy way to assess the fuel economy (average and instantaneous) . After multiple attempts, we were also unable to get our ScanGauge to reflect accurate fuel consumption readings. In the end, we could only assess its fuel consumption by visiting the diesel pump more often to top it off.
    • Dated and monotonous interior styling, the tall dash and the somewhat small cup holders seem to accentuate this more glaringly. General storage areas such as cubby holes and center compartments are also very small.
    • High price. Frankly, a little too steep considering what the competition is offering in terms of convenience features and active driving aides.
    • If you are standing outside the car, this TDI is no longer smelly but it is still noisier than the average gasoline powered vehicle. Perhaps even a bit noisier still if it is cold.
    • Diesel refueling opportunities are somewhat more limited than gasoline. However, this is not a problem once you identify a preferred station and you keep an eye on the fuel level.
    • The manual shifting mode is utterly useless for improved fuel economy performance. For a fuel savvy driver this feature is worth ignoring.
    If the objective is to promote a fuel efficient alternative to today’s gasoline powered vehicles then Volkswagen is definitely on the right track. In the hands of a fuel efficient driver, this car will not disappoint and even does an admirable job of destroying the myth that late model Diesels are smelly and noisy. At least on the former count, consider that myth unfounded. As for noise, the car is definitely quieter for the passengers and that may be all that matters to some.

    With this said, I find the 2009 Jetta TDI to be an excellent alternative to VW’s own lineup of gasoline powered models and well worth the extra expenditure for a Diesel powertrain. The driver and passenger living space is extremely quiet and particularly so at highway speeds despite the vehicle’s “just” average drag coefficient.

    In my view, this car would be very appealing to anyone seeking a fuel efficient, non-hybrid vehicle. It is spacious and it offers prodigious amounts of torque... in fact, far more than what any efficient driver would ever need. The vehicle feels very solid, and this feeling can be further enhanced if a good dealer is at hand to help mitigate any fears about VW’s reputation for reliability. A very strong and active online community also helps to reduce many of the remaining concerns -- particularly for TDI owners who prefer to have a more active role in the maintenance of their car.

    Personal verdict

    As an owner and proponent of hybrid vehicles, I purposely forced myself to view the 2009 Jetta TDI as a viable and efficient alternative fuel vehicle. Believe me, this was not all that difficult! Temporarily emptying my mind is as far as I can go, however... my will power alone is not enough to allow a direct comparison between this TDI and any of the fuel efficient hybrids available on the market today. But, if I really had to try, the closest comparison I could make would be with the second generation Honda Civic Hybrid, in part because the TDI reminded me more of the HCH than the Prius.. at least in terms of fuel economy vices and advantages.

    Then my wife’s final comments really crystallized one last element that makes the prospect of any direct competition even more unlikely. One that I never really thought of before:

    "What happens when you ask a hybrid owner to consider trading his/her hybrid vehicle for a brand new 2009 Jetta TDI?"

    While hardly scientific, the type of feedback you get is not surprising. As if to re-affirm the levels of owner satisfaction reported amongst the majority of hybrid drivers, even my wife found this particular proposition a serious challenge. One that she promptly rejected, even if I had meant it as a joke.

    Perhaps VW still has some work to do in this area. Then again... maybe they don't need to. At least not on account of people like me. ;)

    Finally, I would like to thank Auto Haus Volkswagen in Winnipeg for graciously providing us with this unit -- without which this review would not have been possible. If you live in Manitoba and you are curious about this or any other TDI, please don't forget to visit the nice folks at Auto Haus.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2009
  2. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    Re: 2009 Jetta TDI review - (Canadian Comfortline model)

    As Manuel’s review has already done an excellent job covering the 2009 Jetta TDI, I have decided to try to write my review from the perspective of a Volkswagen TDI owner and diesel promoter.

    The Powertrain
    The first thing that struck me when we started driving was the quietness and smoothness of the engine. Noise and vibration levels are significantly lower than in my 2001, to the point where my car felt like an old rattling diesel bus when I first got back into it. It’s not that my car is especially loud or rough, it’s just that the 2009 is so much better. I still noticed some of the telltale diesel sound and vibration when stopped or crawling along, but once underway, the engine smoothed out and its sound became indistinguishable from the regular road and wind noise. Even in my older TDI with a less isolated engine, most passengers do not realize that there is a diesel engine under the hood. With the 2009 TDI being that much more refined than mine, the average driver or passenger would never notice a difference between it and the gasoline powered version. Volkswagen truly did an excellent job in isolating the cabin from the inevitable sounds and vibrations created by diesel engines.

    Along with the large step up in refinement, the new engine has also improved driveability. It felt more linear and had better accelerator response than my car. That’s probably not a bit deal for most members on this message board, but for John Q. Public who wants something that drives just like his “regular” gasoline powered car, it is an improvement.

    VW’s DSG transmission has received many positive reviews for its performance and efficiency, but recently there have been some complaints surfacing of rough performance under certain circumstances. After some trial and error, we were able to replicate some of the complaints about rough low speed transitions in manual mode. What we felt reminded me of a driver still learning to use a manual transmission. The DSG is basically a sophisticated computer controlled manual transmission and it appears that there may be some fine tuning to be done in software to eliminate that behaviour. Hopefully VW will address it with an update soon. Leaving the transmission in Drive seemed to eliminate the problem. Drive appears to be the best choice to get the best fuel economy out of the car, so I would suggest that drivers leave the car in Drive in most circumstances. Other than the one issue in manual mode, I found the DSG to be pleasant, smooth, and responsive, and believe that most drivers would be happy with it. Even though I was generally happy with the DSG, my recommendation to most people would be that the better choice is to stick with the standard six-speed manual transmission. In addition to reducing the car's cost by more than $1300, the manual gives better fuel economy, the manual transmission does not require the DSG’s transmission fluid and filter replacements every 64000 kilometers (40000 miles).

    Finally, a few general diesel related points about the car. The first is that when I stood behind the car as it was running, I noticed there was far less of the usual diesel smell when compared to my car. With my car, I occasionally get a hint of diesel smell if I drive around with my windows open. I don’t think I would notice the smell from the 2009 while driving it. Next, the tailpipes still looked shiny inside, which I have never seen before on previous TDI’s. That’s to be expected with the particulate filter and only around 8000 kilometres on the odometer, but it was still nice to see in person. A useful cold weather touch is that the Jetta has a supplementary electric cabin heater. Drivers of older diesels in cold climates know that the extremely efficient combustion means it can take a long time to get useful heat on a cold day. The electric heater helps to eliminate this traditional weakness. Finally, cold weather starting performance has been improved, with reduced glow plug times compared to the 2006.

    Fuel Economy and Emissions System
    I cannot comment much on the city driving and urban commuting results as I was not in the car for those segments. I will agree with Manuel and say that like any non-hybrid car, this car is out of its element in bumper to bumper city driving. The car can still produce good results, however the driver has to work hard to keep up with what most hybrids are able to do with ease. Higher speed commutes with fewer stops have always been the TDI’s forte, and this car continues with that theme. 4.1L/100km for the highway driving segment is not too bad at all considering the conditions, however I was hoping for closer to 3.6L/100km (65MPG US). I want to avoid making hasty conclusions on the car’s fuel economy potential based on 160km (100 miles) of driving on a cold spring day with a car that is still breaking in, so I will say that while I was a little let down with our results, the car may be able to offer more than what we saw.

    One thing I can feel confident in saying though is that the 2009 TDI will not threaten the pre-2003 TDI’s when it comes to fuel economy. The new engine is simply so much more powerful and there is more weight for it to pull around. With that said, the difference in NOx and particulate emissions between the 2009 and older models is so large that I would gladly swap my engine for the new engine and its emissions system, and put up with burning a bit more fuel.

    An area of uncertainty for me about the new engine is how much fuel economy Volkswagen had to give up to meet the Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions standard. I can almost guarantee they had to give up something, but how much is the question. Compared to my car, the 2009 adds a diesel oxidation catalyst, particulate filter, and NOx trap. Differences even show up when comparing the 2009 North American TDI to the 2009 European TDI. The North American version has a different EGR system, adds a NOx trap, and has different fuel injectors. In addition to the specialized equipment for the North American car, there may have been a fuel economy sacrifice made to meet emissions standards without using urea. Going that route likely means less efficient combustion and more particulate filter regenerations, both of which use more fuel.

    Emissions control system for the Tier 2 Bin 5 TDI

    Inside the Car
    Some find Volkswagen’s small car interiors bland and monotonous. I generally like Volkswagen interiors in that they are clean and well finished, but agree that they are less than exciting. The Jetta was as I expected with good fit and finish, logical (to me) controls, and a layout that I can appreciate. The car does suffer from some predictable German design decisions such as small cupholders and pictograms on the controls which may confuse passengers or newcomers to German vehicles. Once people have the pictograms figured out, they do make sense, and watching passengers trying to figure them out becomes part of the "experience" of owing a German car.

    What I did not expect in the 2009 Jetta was the feel of the materials and controls. The current generation (MkV) Jetta’s interior first showed up in 2003 and may be beginning to show its age. The previous generation (MkIV) Jetta set the bar high for materials and control feel and the MkV, while still acceptable, did not present an improvement over the MkIV in my mind. In fact, some areas of the cabin felt cheaper than what I was used to from my car. The MkVI Golf is supposed to address these shortcomings and it should be arriving later this year.

    The Jetta had a nice ride and handling balance. Its ride felt marginally stiffer than my car’s, but it was still comfortable. The Jetta’s handling felt tighter and more controlled than what I was used to in my car. Those are both highly subjective measurements though, especially when comparing a new car to one that’s 8 years old and driving on its original suspension. Inside, he Jetta was pleasantly quiet. Road noise was well muted and I was especially impressed by the quietness when we pulled onto the gravel shoulder to let an ambulance pass.

    The new common rail TDI is a huge leap forward over the previous 1.9 TDI PD. My car served as a diesel myth buster for many people who rode in it or drove it. The new engine is poised to break even more myths, and the more people who can experience it, the better. The DSG may have a few rough spots to work out but is a fine piece of technology. I look forward to seeing it and similar transmissions from other manufacturers replacing conventional automatics in the future.

    For those concerned about Volkswagen’s reputation, the Jetta is rated as having average predicted reliability by Consumer Reports. I personally believe that one of the major detriments to Volkswagen’s reputation is the inconsistent and sometimes expensive work that their dealers perform. If Volkswagen dealers could improve their quality of service, then their reputation could be improved as well. I realize a sample size of one is not worth much, but I have my car serviced at a shop known for good work and prices, and am very happy with how my car has treated me. This is coming from somebody who was raised in a family that bought nothing but Toyotas over the last 15 years.

    Overall, I came away impressed by the car. It offered an excellent powertrain in a good, though slightly dated, package. If the new Golf arrives soon with this powertrain, I feel Volkswagen could have a very appealing car on their hands. Fuel economy, while not up to the standard set by the pre-2003 TDI’s or newer hybrids, was still good. The 2009 Jetta TDI has plenty of appeal for someone shopping for a fuel efficient compact car, especially in the station wagon body style where the Jetta is unmatched. Unfortunately, the Jetta’s high price (though it does come with plenty of standard features) means that it can get lost in the crowd with many other appealing small cars. The TDI’s main advantage over most of those cars is its fuel economy. In my opinion, anybody considering a new Jetta should skip over the gasoline 2.5 and go straight for the TDI, and those who have dismissed the TDI based on what they think they know about diesels should go and try one as it may surprise them to see how much better the new TDI is compared to past diesels. After this quick taste of the new engine, I am eager to try it out with a manual transmission in the new Golf VI when it arrives.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
  3. tasdrouille

    tasdrouille Well-Known Member

    Re: 2009 Jetta TDI review - (Canadian Comfortline model)

    And what was its predecessors Cd again? The MK4 is quoted between 0.3 and 0.33. The MK3 was officially 0.3 according to VW.
  4. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Re: 2009 Jetta TDI review - (Canadian Comfortline model)

    Great review. I'm disappointed in the lack of iFCD/aFCD on all but the top trim line. Particularly since the SG is useless for tracking FE -- as I have also found with my 2000 TDI (and my '01 gas VW as well, though it manifests differently -- the SG simply doesn't interpret the output of VW's engine computers properly).

    Is this true of the US models (which are offered in different trim) too?
  5. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Re: 2009 Jetta TDI review - (Canadian Comfortline model)

    Hi tasdrouille:

    I owned a second gen VW at one point and I recalled it had a CoD of 0.36.

    Of course that is my only comparative baseline I had for this review, but I am also aware the subsequent generations improved a fair bit. If I recall correctly even the 3rd gen was rated at 0.32?

    The lack of an iFCD/aFCD was indeed disapointing, especially since this type of instrumentation really should not add that much to the cost of a car that is already VERY expensive - at least by Canadian standards.

    Still, I would have been happy if the SG had worked well. Sadly it did not, and this is something that even Mike was able to verify. Fortunately, I kept the fuel-up receipts and the account of the mileage I was accumulating on regimen basis.

    With all of this said, I would still get and use a Scangauge if I owned this Jetta... simply because it still gives you a relative idea of fuel consumption... albeit at an exagerated rate. ;)


  6. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Re: 2009 Jetta TDI review - (Canadian Comfortline model)

    Agreed, and despite their utter inability to give reliable FE readings I find ScanGauges absolutely indispensible on both my VWs, simply because of all the other real time information they give me.
  7. SuPaFRo

    SuPaFRo Member

    Re: 2009 Jetta TDI review - (Canadian Comfortline model)

    Very informative review guys.

    Mike, you mention the necessity of fluid and filter replacements for the DSG at every 60 000 km. What is the maintenance schedule (ie. fluid replacement) for the manual tranny? And what is the cost comparison for a service for both (DSG vs 6spd manual)?
  8. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    Re: 2009 Jetta TDI review - (Canadian Comfortline model)

    Hi Ro, I believe the manual transmission fluid will be a lifetime fill. "Lifetime" often means under ideal conditions though, and I'm looking into changing my lifetime fluid this summer in my 8-year old Golf. Our winters may have a negative effect on the fluid's life and my shifter isn't as smooth as I remember it being on those cold winter days.

    As for cost, I've heard the DSG fluid and filter come in around $150-$200. If a DIY'er wants to do it, then they will also need a VAG-COM and a special tool to fill the transmission with fluid. I've heard $250-$400 for a dealer to do the entire procedure -- many VW dealers like to charge Audi prices. By comparison, the manual transmission would probably be around 3-4L of GL4 and $10 worth of funnels and hoses, and is changed more or less at the owner's discretion.

    As for the ScanGauge, I had mine dialed in last summer to where it was within 2% on 5 consecutive fillups. Winter fuel blends and temperatures seem to wreak havoc on it though and I don't bother with the calibration and just end up using it it to give me an approximation of what's going on.
  9. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Re: 2009 Jetta TDI review - (Canadian Comfortline model)

    Hi Manuel and Mike:

    ___About the only thing left to find is what it will allow once it warms up in your areas of Canada!

    ___Did either of you experience any kind of a slight accel/decel during a NOx purge and adsorption cycle transition like an Insight with lean burn or a have any indication that a DPF regeneration may have occurred during your time with the 09 Jetta TDI?

    ___Finally, my short drive of the 09 w/ the 6-speed stick in warm temperatures at TDIFest in Cincinnati last year allowed what I thought was decent FE per the OEM aFCD with 4 in the car over a 20-mile stint. Did either of you believe you were approaching the mid to high 60 mpg range at any point during the few hours/days you were in the TDI? Sorry to hear that the lower trims did not include an i or aFCD. I suspect it is simply disabled as a "feature" upgrade and hopefully someone will figure out a hack to bring it back live for the rest of us...

    ___Thanks in advance.

  10. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    Re: 2009 Canadian Jetta TDI Sedan review

    Haha Wayne, this has been the year without a spring. I'm just happy we didn't end up with snow during our review :D

    I did not feel anything out of the ordinary during steady state cruising, nor did I sense a DPF regeneration. I believe the DPF regen interval is somewhere between 250-350 miles so we may not have experienced it. But Manuel had more time in the car so he may have noticed something different. It is very noticeable at idle, where the idle speed will increase a little and the cooling fans will begin to run. The period between deNOx regenerations is much shorter and I am near certain that we went through one but may not have noticed it. Here's a plot that shows some typical regeneration periods:


    I suspect we were hitting mid 60's mpg for some of the suburban segments, but that's impossible to confirm without the FCD. I also hope that a hack becomes available for the FCD as I don't really want to spend the money for so many other options just to get it. The FCD should be reasonably accurate, much more so than the previous engines. The emissions system requires the ECU to have a good idea of the fuel consumption rates, so the ECU is constantly testing and calibrating its consumption parameters. From what I've read, the FCD is within 0.5 mpg.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2009
  11. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Re: 2009 Canadian Jetta TDI Sedan review

    Hi Wayne & Mike;

    Yes, I did have significantly more time with the car but I did not experience the DPF regen at all. I am not sure if it had a chance during some of the driving regimens or it simply fell outside my test cycles. Frankly, my commute is somewhat short as it does not exceed 12 miles and perhaps the phenomenon could have been suppressed by the colder engine and the FASing I often had to do in the bumper to bumper segments?

    The only real chance it got to spread its wings was over the alternate patchs I chose for the suburban regimen as well as the bits of highway I did solo and with Mike.

    Nevertheless, and as we discussed previously, I will be doing an encore over the warmer summer months in order to give a broader perspective of this car's potential. To keep things within the same context I'll secure yet another 6 speed DSG model. perhaps next time with the i and aFCD.


  12. philmcneal

    philmcneal Has it been 10 years? Wow

    Re: 2009 Canadian Jetta TDI Sedan review

    horray!, now just waiting for the 6spd review :)

    There was a 1000 watt coolant heater add-on (more effective than the stock VW block heater) that allowed the car to warm up much much faster since diesels are very sensitive to cold starts. Not only that, they say if you do a lot of cold start driving with these TDI's the regeneration process could start a lot sooner, therefore really hurting the FE process.

    Sounds like 2010 prius is a cheaper alternative for cold starts (with the exhaust recovery system). Well until EV becomes affordable anyways....

    Thanks for the review! Love reading these.
  13. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    Re: 2009 Canadian Jetta TDI Sedan review

    Glad to hear you liked the review, Phil. The 1000 watt heater is an aftermarket part, and the kit for the 2009 TDI has been developed and is available online now. My preferred dealer (European Auto in Brandon, MB) also did installs with a 1000 watt heater available at Canadian Tire, which is the same part as contained in the kit online. I haven't checked if they still offer those installs on the new cars, but I do expect that they would.

    The amount of fuel consumed for the regen hasn't been determined yet, but figures between 1/16 and 1/8 gallon are being thrown around on tdiclub. If we go with the 1/8 gallon and assume a very short regen interval of 150 miles compared to the more typical 300 miles, the fuel economy difference ends up being less than 1 mpg. Most people cold starting their TDI's on cold winters days will already be taking a big enough fuel economy hit to make the extra fuel consumed by the regen the least of their worries.
  14. dr61

    dr61 Well-Known Member

    Re: 2009 Canadian Jetta TDI Sedan review

    Very interesting review! You have given me some ideas to try with my manual-gearbox Sportwagen TDI. By the way, in the US only one trim level is being offered in the TDI's, and it includes the dual trip computers with instant and average FE displays. The averages are very close on my car to manual calculations with careful filling.

    We bought the Sportwagen TDI because of the manual gearbox and of course it is a wagon! The other vehicle we considered was the Escape Hybrid 2WD, with about the same interior room as the VW, but shorter, much more expensive, and not very good handling or pleasing driving characteristics. We do mostly highway driving so the VW also works better at that compared to the FEH.
  15. psyshack

    psyshack He who posts articles

    I just drove one of these cars with the 6MT. May well be my next car!
  16. Ron3KL

    Ron3KL Member

    Thank you for review, not only because of the car itself, but also the discussion of hypermiling with a TDI in general and the VAG drivetrain in particular.

    First of all I need to point a slight error in the engine specs on the specifications page that this review links to. The engine under review is 140HP / 103kW (not 140HP / 125kW as stated).

    (Edit: I have just discovered that this error is actually on the Volkswagen Canada )website...

    The reason I point this out is that VAG makes (at least) two versions of this engine, and one is indeed 125kW. Both are 2.0L turbo direct injection common rail diesels. However they have two power tunes:
    140HP / 103kW power with 236 / 320Nm torque
    170HP / 125kW power with 260 / 350Nm torque

    I have a 2008 Skoda Octavia RS wagon with the 125kW TDI and the 6 speed DSG transmission. Its a car based on the Jetta platform and has the Golf GTI mechanicals. Similar in many ways to the Jetta Sportswagon.

    Now for the curious part. I'm in Australia, and the official fuel consumption specs for two 2008 Octavia wagons with the DSG transmissions are:
    103 kW TDI 5.3/6.4/8.3 l/100km Hwy/Combined/City cycles (US MPG 44.3/36.7/28.3) (IMP MPG 53.3/44.1/34.0)
    125 kW TDI 4.9/6.0/7.9 l/100km Hwy/Combined/City cycles (US MPG 48.0/39.2/29.7) (IMP MPG 57.6/47.1/35.8)

    That's correct. The more powerful version is actually the more economical (which is why I bought it), which has me puzzled, although it seems to be borne out with the stats at

    The reason I really found this review interesting is it confirmed a lot of what I have discovered with my car regarding hypermiling, although I'm relatively inexperienced. I have the fuel consumption displays in my vehicle, so I can't see that buying a Scangauge is going to help me lot.How would I benefit if I bought one?

    Seondly I have discovered, as you did, that throttling off and gliding in gear is indeed more efficient than throwing the car in neutral. I have discovered that the car does not like *cough* *cough* a fAS . A couple of times that I have tried it, upon turning the ignition key back to the first position the engine would restart of its own accord. Presumably because its a compression based engine and there was enough heat to restart the burn. On another occasion turning the engine back on after a fAS caused the diagnostics to go berseck, with chimes sounding and the messages flashing on the dash. So I don't recommend fAS unless perhaps when gliding to a stop.

    Generally although the Octavia is a reasonably economical vehicle in the first place I have found it much harder to get under the official fuel consumption figures than I did in my previous petrol vehicle, although that vehicle consumed a lot more overall.

    I haven't managed to get the figures you did, but I have seen 5.5l/100km in urban driving when I'm very careful.
  17. seftonm

    seftonm Veteran Staff Member

    That is strange how the more powerful version is also more economical. Do you know if both models have a particulate filter and use the same gear ratios?

    If you have a fuel consumption display in your car that displays instantaneous and average fuel economy, then the ScanGauge won't be much help there. It could help if you need to monitor some other parameters such as battery voltage during a FAS, or turbo boost. It's also useful in clearing check engine lights.

    Generally, gliding in neutral will give better results than gliding in gear. You don't necessarily have to turn the engine off in neutral to do the glide. The engine will be using a bit of fuel to keep itself running, but the benefit of gliding in neutral is that there is far less resistance from engine braking and transmission friction to slow you down, resulting in glides lasting much longer. I only recommend gliding in gear if you have to slow down and would be using your brakes. You'll get a bit of engine braking in gear, and the engine will use very little fuel because the wheels are helping to keep it spinning.

    I actually like the Octavia and other Skodas a bit more than their VW counterparts. The Skodas seem to come with lower prices and seem to get better results in reliability surveys. That is what VW's should be in my mind, given that they are supposed to be the "people's car".

    How many kms are on your car? You may find that beating the official fuel consumption figures becomes easier as your car breaks in during the first 10-20k kms. Also, make sure to read Beating the EPA - The Why’s and How to Hypermile if you haven't already.
  18. Ron3KL

    Ron3KL Member

    Thanks for your comments and tips.

    Sorry for taking so long to reply. I've been hunting everywhere for the information to answer you. I cannot find the gear ratios for my car anywhere.

    First of all, I now realise that there is a fundamental difference between the two Australian diesel engines. The 103 kw engine was, and still is on the 2009 model, a PD engine while the 125 kw is a common rail diesel. Secondly it appears that the 103 kW engine does not have a DPF as standard while the 125 kW engine does. Lastly the compression ratio of the 103kW engine is 18.5 : 1 while its 16.5 : 1 on the 125kW.

    I have also noticed that the fuel consumption on the MY2009 103kW engine has improved over the MY2008 version and is now better than the 125 kW engine (for either 2008 or 2009). It seems its down to gradual improvements in the drive train and tuning.

    My car only has 8K on it so far. I did notice a big difference at around 5K and my dealer says it will continue to improve further.
  19. Student Driver

    Student Driver Well-Known Member

    How come the member ratings in this thread all average about 4 stars but the product reviews page that lists the cars with pictures, headlines and ratings shows 2 stars for the member rating?
  20. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Student Driver:

    ___Good catch and I have no idea why... A bug we will have to look into.

    ___Good Luck


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