Volkswagen’s 2009 Jetta TDI sedan doesn’t set any new standards as far as exterior design is concerned; it’s what’s lurking under the hood that really matters.

The state-of-the-art clean diesel technology available in the Jetta will be THE key selling feature of the new model, which is helping VW achieve sales increases in Canada while most manufacturers have been losing market share.

Volkswagen has a long history with diesels and the Jetta TDI has been one of its sales leaders over the years. In fact, in 2006 about half of all Jettas sold in Canada had the old 1.9-litre TDI turbo diesel engine. However, changing emissions regulations rendered that engine obsolete and in 2007, VW didn’t offer any diesel models.

The new diesel engine not only meets the tougher emissions regulations throughout all of North America, but it also is smoother, quieter, more powerful and more fuel-efficient than the previous diesel.

Gone are the days of the black smoke billowing out of the tailpipe as you drive merrily on your way, smugly telling the world that you’re getting great fuel economy with your diesel, while at the same time adding piles of CO2 to the atmosphere.

Gone too is the “clatter” previously associated with diesel engines — at speed up you can barely hear the engine sound although it is audible at start up.

A plus with the new 2.0-litre engine is the extra power that comes without sacrificing fuel economy. The new engine produces 140 hp and 235 lb/ft of torque, compared with 100 hp and 177 lb/ft with the previous model. That added grunt comes in handy when accelerating onto the highway or in passing mode.

As for fuel economy, the numbers are impressive — 6.8L/100 km city and 4.9L/100 km highway with the six-speed DSG automatic transmission. A six-speed manual gets slightly better fuel economy still.

While the Jetta is clearly a leader on the technological side, styling-wise it’s a fairly bland offering. Unlike the eye-catching look of its Passat CC sibling, the Jetta TDI blends in with the crowd. Similarly, the interior is a functional yet dull Plain Jane gray on gray colour. However, all knobs and gauges are easy to use and within reach, while the seats are comfortable.

2009 VW Jetta TDI

Type: Two door mid-size sedan
Price: $24,275-$29,775
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel (140 hp 235 lb/ft)


• Smoother and quieter than previous diesel Jettas
• Impressive fuel economy

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