2009 Volkswagen Jetta SportwagenEnlarge Photo
Volkswagen diesels have hard-core fans. One of them is our colleague (and "rabid diesel enthusiast") Colin Mathews, who was crazy enough to drive a 1982 Mercedes-Benz 300TD station wagon cross-country last fall--after converting it to run on biodiesel.
Recently he drove a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen, fitted with the TDI turbodiesel engine and a six-speed manual, into the Georgia mountains (up about 1800 feet and then back down again), and averaged 41 mpg.
His results confirm consistent reports from actual drivers that the EPA's official mileage numbers for the Jetta TDI (29 mpg city / 40 mpg highway for the automatic, 30 / 41 for the manual) are far too low.
Last July, Volkswagen hired independent tester AMCI to test the Jetta TDI's "real world" mileage on the road. They came back with 38 city / 44 highway--or 24 percent and 10 percent higher respectively.
Colin says, "I blew them away!" On a 40-mile loop of flat highways, he actually logged 52.4 mpg. While he wasn't officially "hypermiling," he did stay 5 mph below the speed limit, accelerated gradually, and shifted at lower revs (1250 to 1500 rpm)--which, although counterintuitive, provided the most economical figures on the instant-mileage display. The TDI is "so torquey you can do a gradual start in first without pushing the throttle," Colin said, and the same applies through second and third as well.
Given the EPA ratings, he figured he might get 45 mpg at best, so he was shocked--and pleased!--at finishing above 50 mpg.
Reviewers have generally liked the 2009 Jetta Sportwagen TDI that Colin drove. While we're on Volkswagen diesels, the sixth-generation 2010 Golf TDI has already been unveiled for our friends north of the border. We'll see it in the States at April's New York Auto Show, along with the 2010 Volkswagen GTI.
2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDIEnlarge Photo