City, Slicker: Jetta TDI Clean Diesel

Some passionate readers asked when we’d review imports that specialize in excellent mileage. (Kilometreage?) Enter the Jetta TDI Clean Diesel: it boasts a fuel efficiency of 6.8L/100 km in the city and 4.8 on the highway. Great if you live in the city (not that anyone lives on a highway). In fact, after driving over 600 km, the 55L tank was still nearly a third full.

But Clean Diesel? Some industry newspeak? Vin’s goodie-two-shoes sister?

No. There have been impressive advancements in diesel technology including the breathtakingly low sulphur content in the fuel it takes (15 parts per million).

It’s a strange feeling lining up with huge trucks to fill the tank (I was the only one wearing a suit) and with fuel efficiency like that, it’s one you won’t get used to very fast. But that’s not the only reason you forget you’re driving a diesel. That grandpa-with-catarrh growl is almost absent. The Jetta rumbles in low gear but is surprisingly quiet and smooth out of first.

With an exceptionally tight turning radius (35.8ft), it turns like a Mini: ideal for parking and maneuvering, downtown. The standard transmission shifts easily though I did stall out a couple of times getting into first – humbling in a left turn. But the Hillstart, a standard feature promoting easy shifting on inclines, prevented acute embarrassment.

There’s a good deal more power compared with the previous version of this car: 140hp up from 100 and a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged direct injection, up from 1.9L four-cylinder. So there was more than enough to zip about and pass when needed.

The interior is basic and the design functional. But in these days of sudden no-frill living, we’d say simple design and, as the other half of the diesel name claims, clean.

Price from $24,275 for Trendline Model.

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