Skip to main content
Don’t miss our
best deal ever
offer ends july 23
save over $160
Sale ends in
$6
for
6 months
Don’t miss our
best deal ever
$6
for 6 months
save over $160
// //

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

A fixture in North America's miniscule market for diesel engines, Volkswagen's Jetta is one of the least-expensive cars to offer such a power plant on this continent. Its closest competitor is the Chevrolet Cruze, which added a diesel option last year. For 2015, VW's TDI diesel gets a 10-hp bump to 150 (which brings its horsepower total to within one of the Chevy's, while leaving torque at 236 lb-ft in contrast to the Cruze's 264.) Cosmetically, the Jetta's styling gets a gentle facelift. (Overall score: 6.2)

Walkaround

The Jetta's 2015 update is like one of those "find the differences" puzzles you played as a kid: the distinctions are there, but I couldn't spot them without a side-by-side comparison with my photos of a Jetta I drove last year. Outside, new headlight assemblies frame a revised front fascia and grille, and a new trunk lid houses reshaped taillights that look borrowed from an Audi. Inside, there's a new steering wheel and a (barely) revised gauge cluster. As always, this is a handsome car, but it doesn't do much to distinguish itself stylistically.

Story continues below advertisement

Under-the-skin changes include active grille shutters and new underbody panels to clean up the car's aerodynamics; that and updates to the engine make for a small reduction in fuel consumption. (Score: 6.2)

Interior

Jetta's interior feels roomy for a car parked at the top end of the compact spectrum, with trunk space especially generous. Comfortable front seats make long stints at the wheel a cinch, and rear seat passengers will appreciate legroom a cut above what most compacts offer, rivalling that of smaller mid-size sedans.

A new steering wheel button layout moves the stereo's volume and track/seek controls to the bottom of the three- and nine-o'clock spokes - a less-intuitive location that makes these oft-pressed buttons more awkward to use.

Heated front seats and integrated iPod connector are standard as of the $17,700 Trendline+ trim, and Comfortline trim brings an adjustable front centre armrest. (Score: 6.5)

More from Autofocus.ca:

Tech

Story continues below advertisement

My Highline tester came fitted with the optional technology package, adding navigation, steerable (adaptive) Xenon headlights, eight-speaker stereo, and LED daytime running lights. That's in addition to the multifunction trip computer, ambient interior lighting, intelligent keyless entry, forward collision warning, and blind spot detection with rear cross traffic alert (those last three being new to the Jetta for 2015) that are included in Highline models, and the Bluetooth and backup camera that are standard across the line.

This is a nicely-equipped car, but as with many new vehicles, the Bluetooth system wouldn't talk to my three-year-old Android smartphone. I guess it's time either for a new device, or for vehicle engineers to build in better backwards compatibility. (Score: 7)

Driving

Volkswagen's best effort to justify the Jetta's high price tag is in the car's drive: quiet at highway speeds and composed over rough roads, with a level of refinement usually reserved for larger cars or those wearing the badge of a luxury brand.

The TDI diesel engine is always a highlight: generous torque makes the Jetta quick off the line, but this motor does its best work at low revs, running out of breath quickly after 3,000 rpm. That torque works well with the optional dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission and its nearly-seamless shifts.

With the automatic, the Jetta TDI's official fuel consumption ratings (according to 2015's new five-cycle test) are 7.5/5.3 L/100 km (city/highway); cold weather drove my tester's average to 8.6 L/100 km in city driving. (Score: 7.3)

Story continues below advertisement

Value

As in many cars, the Jetta's value is found at the lower end of the line, where you can get a Trendline+ model with VW's excellent 1.8TSI gasoline engine for less than $21,000. Still, most compacts at that price point come with more stuff, and the significant price bump to get the diesel in the same trim is a lot of money considering the 1.8TSI's already-impressive economy. Then there's my Highline tester, which starts at $28,290 with the diesel, and priced out to $32,200 with automatic transmission and options.

A Honda Civic Touring ($25,550) and Toyota Corolla LE Eco (with optional tech package, $25,260) lack my Jetta tester's passive safety features. So do the value-packed Korean cousins Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte, but they include items like heated rear seats and, in the Kia's case, a heated steering wheel and ventilated driver's seat, for less than $27,000 apiece.

But the Jetta TDI's biggest competitor might now be found in its own lineup: the 1.8TSI gasoline engine introduced last year makes the diesel's extra cost seem unnecessary. A Jetta 1.8TSI Highline with automatic and the same tech package added to my diesel tester works out to a bit less than $30,000. (Score: 3.9)

Conclusion

Volkswagen makes a strong case for the Jetta's value as a true entry-level luxury sedan, a car that goes over the road with refinement that eludes those Japanese and Korean models. The Jetta is easy to like, but breaking the $30,000 barrier is tough to justify in a small car, no matter how good it is.

Story continues below advertisement

Autofocus.ca is a Canadian automotive website dedicated to making car shopping easier and driving more fun. Follow Autofocus on Facebook and Twitter.

Like us on Facebook

Add us to your circles

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies