About three weeks ago I posted a review of the 2012 Jetta (I liked it and think other reviews miss the point). Today I come back to you with a different take on the same vehicle. It isn’t my different take, it is VW’s. I am talking about the 2012 Jetta with a TDI engine mated to a DSG transmission.
While my previous review of the interior will remain unchanged, my general opinion of the car has shifted. Yes, I was positive about it before but now I can go beyond saying that I think it is a good car and that I and see where it fits to saying I genuinely like it. This transmission/engine pairing along with everything "Jetta" about it, arguably makes this vehicle the best sedan at the price point. I know I am straying dangerously close to hyperbole, but I truly believe the TDI Jetta is head and shoulders above anything else in its class.
The TDI, like a traditional diesel, is light on horsepower and heavy on torque. This makes driving around town a true pleasure. In the standard "Drive" transmission mode, downshifts are crisp and on point for both acceptable acceleration and fuel economy. Up-shifts come early, but keep you in the meat of the torque curve if under acceleration. And that torque curve is impressive in and of itself. You won’t mistake the Jetta TDI for a sports car, or even a sporty sedan. That said, it is beyond capable in pulling away from a traffic light or merging into rush hour traffic on a congested Philadelphia area highway.
The TDI is an all-star in stop and go traffic as well. With transmission engagement that would embarrass a standard automatic, it scurries away from traffic lights with minimal encouragement. At stop and go speeds, all the encouragement it needs is permission.
You will notice that in both scenarios that I praise the TDI, you are transitioning from a stop or low speed to moving or high speed. Though it is excellent in these scenarios, it isn’t all sun shine and roses. Specifically, power at highway passing speeds can be lacking. My comparison point (my GTI) for this might not be fair, but it is worth mentioning. It is totally capable to pass at 80 miles per hour, but plan on a bit more distance than you would in a turbo charged gas engine.
All in all, this engine and transmission combination is absolutely stellar. Frankly, it makes me pine for a GTD, or a tuned TDI Sportswagen.