We get our first extended seat time with the new 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI which gets an all new engine for 2015 and a number of key upgrades.
For 2015, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI isn’t yet part of the new MQB family of cars but received several running updates in style starting with a redesigned grille and bumper. For starters, the grille now has active shutters to improve aerodynamics at speed.
Our tester had the available for 2015 adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights which have a more upscale look and light the way at night more brightly. LED daytime running lights dress it up as well as its optional fog lights mounted down low.
At the rear, Jetta gets a new trunk lid, taillights and bumper design. The trunk lid features an integrated spoiler line which extends nicely into the rear fenders. Our SEL tester had the larger 17” Lancaster alloy wheels which seem well proportioned for the Jetta.
Updates to the Jetta’s cabin particularly with the up level SEL raise the bar for style. A new instrument cluster has a dual tunnel design that looks more expensive and offers up an informative center information screen.
A new leather wrapped multifunction steering wheel and redesigned air vent controls are all highlighted by a new piano black and chrome trim treatment that is modern and tasteful. Ambient lighting is a nice touch too.
The Jetta SEL comes with standard VTex leatherette seating surfaces on the six-way power driver’s seat and manual passenger chair. No leather is currently available in the TDI at any trim grade. The seats are plenty comfortable and the leatherette passes pretty close to the real thing.
Standard here too is the top-line Fender premium audio system with navigation and touchscreen interface. A back-up camera, Volkswagen Car-Net connected services and Bluetooth connectivity are there, but still no USB port.
While the sound from the Fender audio system is downright phenomenal, I still have to fault the user interface. The menus and touchscreen can be exasperating to use while on the go. Simple things like setting and using radio presets are far from intuitive.
Our Jetta had the driver assistance and lighting package which includes for 2015 a blind spot monitor, rear traffic alert, forward collision warning, and park distance control. All of these systems worked quite well and unobtrusively.
Rear seat room is one of Jetta’s strong points, with a longer wheelbase than most of its competitors. Legroom and headroom are top of the class as is cargo space in its trunk.
The new for 2015 EA288 TDI engine is 2.0 liters like before but breathes better offering up 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft. of torque. With the six-speed manual, EPA estimates 46 mpg highway, 31 mpg city and 36 mpg combined.
An up-shift light in the instrument cluster guides you to get high fuel economy by shifting much earlier than many people might be used to. A diesel engine likes low revs and the Jetta wants you shifting at 1200-1500 rpm for best results. It takes getting used to, but it works.
Handling for this year is aided by the recently added multi-link rear suspension which was handed down to the Jetta TDI from its high-performance brother the GLI. Replacing the old twist-beam axle, the suspension gives the Jetta a sharper and more precise feel on windy and bumpy roads.
The IIHS rates the 2015 Jetta TDI as a Top Safety Pick +. Due to a new front crash structure design it achieved a Good rating on all tests including the new small-offset crash. The addition of its optional crash prevention systems enabled it a plus designation.
In the end we achieved a commendable 44 mpg combined for our week, exceeding the EPA estimated 36 mpg by a long shot. It was all about following the up-shift light’s directives. We liked the car so well it goes on our I’d Buy It List for 2014.