Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagon TDI

Published: 31 October 2007

What’s that: a cool and understated Golf wagon?

You’d better believe it. And it’s more than a modified Golf estate, it’s the spearhead for Volkswagen’s renewed diesel push into North America. VW knows that young car enthusiasts see the influential SEMA (Speciality Equipment Market Association) as the barometer of what’s cool and happening. So by launching its new 2.0-litre TDI in the Jetta at SEMA, VW is hoping to whip up some interest among young people who don’t remember the bone-shaking oilburners that gave diesel a bad name Stateside. Vee-Dub will even launch a diesel version of its Racing Cup series in the US mid-2008, to promote the initiative.

That Jetta Sportwagon looks very European…

It sure does. All the parts that transform this plain Jane Jetta estate (or Golf wagon, as we know it in Europe) will be available in US dealers, and many of them – like the front bumper and GTI-style nose – are heavily influenced by the European range. The makeover includes Hella projector lamps, wraparound side sills, coilover springs, blue Brembo brakes and battleship grey wheels with pearl effect. Also new are the subtle TDI decals down the side and smoked rear lamps. The whole kit will set US buyers back around $5000, not to mention a likely $4000 premium for switching to VW’s new high-tech diesel.

Americans won’t pay $4000 more for diesel!

Yes they will, reckons Derek Jenkins, the chief designer at VW’s Californian studio who dreams up the company’s SEMA projects. ‘People are paying a premium for hybrids in America right now, but with diesels they will get more MPG for their money and fewer complications. With people seeing the efficiency and ecology benefits, diesel could take off quickly.’ The new 170hp 2.0-litre TDI will be the powerplant that kicks off VW’s diesel offensive. It’s fitted with urea treatment of the exhaust gas to reduce nasties like nitrogen oxides, to ensure the TDI meets strict Californian emissions targets. The engine will be available in the Jetta first, but should roll out to the Passat later. It’ll be fascinating to see if diesel does take off Stateside. VW is certainly throwing everything at it, with this Jetta TDI Cup racer pitched at grass roots motorsport enthusiasts. The plan is to create an exciting diesel race series, which will create a buzz around diesel. A buzz of excitement that is, not the buzz of an unrefined, old-tech diesel…

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine