The VW Diesel Scandal Begins New Chapter

The VW Diesel Scandal Begins New Chapter

Plans for Buy-backs and Penalties Announced

VW diesel scandal, TDI

A tarnished image

So, those of us in the U.S. who love diesels can finally exhale. And those of who think EVs are the cars of the future (in this case the same person), some applause is in order. The U.S. Department of Justice, the state of California and the Federal Trade Commission announced that they have a deal to resolve the 475,000 2.0L TDI-equipped vehicles sold in the U.S. with software that allowed them to meet emissions regulations during testing, but exceed those standards in normal operation.

The deal, which affects 2009-15 Volkswagen TDI diesel models of Jettas, Passats, Golfs and Beetles as well as the TDI Audi A3, means VW will buy-back or repair those models and pay into two separate funds—one to subsidize the purchase of clean diesel, alternative fuel or electric heavy-duty trucks, and a second one to fund electric vehicle marketing and infrastructure. The total tab to VW could end up around $15 billion.

TDI Owners Get Options

TDI owners will be able to have their cars repurchased by VW at their September 2015 retail value or may opt to get them repaired by VW (with a fix that

VW diesel scandal,TDI,Volkswagen

The fix is not in–yet–but dollars are coming

has not yet been announced or approved) so they are up to current emissions standards and also get a cash settlement because of VW’s malfeasance.

Volkswagen will set aside $10.03 billion for buy-backs, lease terminations or compensation along with repairs. Because the cheating software meant the TDIs were violating the Clean Air Act, VW will put $2.7 billion into a fund that truckers and trucking companies can tap into to upgrade their trucks to current emissions standard models. An additional $2 billion goes into funds to be used for electric vehicle infrastructure and marketing programs to build awareness and sales of zero emission vehicles.

As we said when we first wrote about this scandal, we don’t consider this an indictment of modern diesel technology, but it certainly has had an impact. VW’s diesel sales in the U.S. stopped and VW brand sales have suffered overall during the past nine months. Interestingly, Audi seems not to have been touched by all this in spite of being a heavily invested in TDI technology.

The Next Steps Are Unknown

VW diesel scandal

VW in America has meant TDI–will it mean it again?

The next step is the long road back. VW has been touting its gasoline technology in the interim and also has what we consider the best EV for the money on the market in the e-Golf. It remains to be seen what is possible to get the older TDIs up to current emissions standards—the question for consumers is what the changes will mean to fuel economy and performance, the twin selling points for diesels. And, although VW says it has a fix for its 3.0L V-6 TDI engines, that fix has not been approved by either the federal EPA or CARB.

We think that whatever Volkswagen does with its future TDIs (and they’ve said they remain committed to diesel technology), diesel engines are going to remain a potent tool for automakers to use to reach ever-increasing fuel economy standards during the next decade. BMW, Land Rover and Mercedes are proving that every day. While diesels clearly aren’t up to the California zero emission mandate, it would be interesting to see how some of the plug-in diesel models currently available in Europe would do over here.

We’re ready for another chapter to begin—and promise to continue to cover it for Clean Fleet Report readers.

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Disclosure

Clean Fleet Report staff have worked for in the past and retain close relations with Volkswagen and other companies and organizations in the diesel industry. The views expressed here are the personal ones of the author related to this issue.

The Legacy of Volkswagen Clean Diesel

The Legacy of Volkswagen Clean Diesel

What Clean Diesel Is & What It Is Not

As I write this, the public Volkswagen TDI debacle is just beginning. The federal Environmental Protection Agency and California’s Air Resources Board have presented their cases that Volkswagen AG (the parent of Volkswagen and Audi, among others) installed software that defeated the purpose of its emissions control equipment except when it was being tested for emissions. The ramifications remain to be seen, but certainly involve some kind of emissions updates to almost 500,000 2009-15 TDIs now on the road. It can be expected that a hefty fine will be levied against VW, which is the world’s largest automaker.

2015 VW,Jetta TDI, badge

A badge of honor?

It also can be expected that the term “clean diesel” will be tarnished, since that is one that VW and other automakers have taken great pains to reinforce for the past several years. That is where Clean Fleet Report has its biggest concern. Volkswagen clean diesel may have become an oxymoron, but we do not believe that is a broad brush that should paint all diesels. Maybe even VW diesels. After all, with the software’s permission, the vehicles did meet the stringent emissions standards of the U.S., which were set so diesels would be available to drivers in all 50 states (California regulations had kept them out for several years). The problem, of course, is that they did not meet those standards in normal driving modes, instead emitting 10-40 times the regulated limit.

At Clean Fleet Report we believe diesels can be clean, both in the certifications submitted to the regulatory agencies and in their daily operation. We also believe that any compromises in performance or fuel economy due to meeting emissions regulations are something consumers will deal with. For those of us old enough to remember diesel’s (which was not clean diesel) first foray into the U.S. market in the 1980s, compromises were part of the bargain. Maybe too big of a part of the bargain. Of course, gasoline cars of the time were far from no-compromise vehicles as well. We’ve come a long way since then and have every right to expect cars and trucks that deliver on all fronts–fuel economy, performance and emissions. Not all technologies are going to be equal and all have a place. Electric vehicles, as wonderful as they are, are far from zero emission vehicles when their electricity comes from coal, to give one example. Fuel cell electric cars offer a great replacement for our expectations of a gasoline/diesel vehicle replacement, until it comes time to find a refueling station, to offer another. That doesn’t make them bad technologies.

We’ll have more to say once we have more information on both the research into what happened, what will be done to correct the vehicles’ software and what impact this might have on our earlier

chevy,cruze,diesel,clean diesel, turbodiesel

Chevy Cruze Diesel

impressions. We will probably reserve judgement on any public pronouncements until our staff has a chance to drive the updated cars and calibrate our response. Suffice it to say, from my personal perspective, slightly less responsive performance and a slightly less fuel efficient vehicle will not change my overall impression of the value of a compression ignition engine. But my feelings of trust of Volkswagen may take longer to heal.

More to come.

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Disclosure

Clean Fleet Report staff have worked for in the past and retain close relations with Volkswagen and other companies and organizations in the diesel industry. The views expressed here are the personal ones of the author related to this issue.

Road Test: 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE

Road Test: 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE

A Not-So-Small Compact

So you’re car shopping and your “Must Have” list includes a not-so-small car that is comfortable to drive, handles great, can haul a respectable amount of your stuff, comfortably carry a couple of adults in the back seat and gets excellent fuel economy. Oh, and it all has to cost under $30,000.

Stop shopping—the 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI just might be what you are looking for.

Driving Experience: On the Road

2015, VW,Volkswagen,TDI,clean diesel,mpg,fuel economy

A Go-machine

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI is the sibling to the recently reviewed 2015 Golf SportsWagen TDI and is part of the robust line of clean diesel cars offered by Volkswagen, which includes the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, Beetle, Passat and Toureg. TDI is the Volkswagen Group (which includes Audi among other brands) designation for its turbocharged diesel vehicles. TDI stands for turbocharged direct injection.

The 2015 Golf TDI shares Volkswagen’s all-new 2.0-Liter turbocharged and intercooled clean diesel engine, known internally at VW as the EA288, putting out 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. The torque kicks-in at a low 1,750 rpm and pulls strongly in all gears at all speeds. Our test car was mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission with fuel economy for the low sulfur diesel rated at 30 city/45 highway/36 combined. The city rating is one mpg more and the highway rating is two mpg less for the six-speed DSG automatic transmission. In 296 miles of driving throughout Southern California I averaged 43.3 mpg with a ratio of 80-percent highway/20-percent city driving. With a lighter right foot I could have easily surpassed 45 mpg for the combined fuel economy.

The six-speed manual has short throws, a light and smooth clutch and the gears are easy to find without any grinding or hunting. For the hyper milers, there is an Upshift indicator in the speedometer cluster; if you follow it, the fun of driving this car is reduced significantly, but, of course, you will maximize the fuel economy, especially when the light wants you to be in 6th gear at 45 mph. The true economy comes at freeway speeds in 6th gear, which at 70 mph has the tachometer is reading about 2,000 rpm.

2015 Volkswagen,Golf TDI,clean diesel,fuel economy, manual,mpg

The source of fun

So what kind of fun can you have in the TDI with a manual? When asked this car delivers instant, fast, push-you-back-in-your-seat torque that brings a big smile to your face. The torque is smooth at any speed and delivers exactly as expected when in the lower gears. Where you will really appreciate the pull of the TDI engine is at highway speeds, for example, when traveling at 65 mph and needing to briefly get to 75 mph+ for passing. With the six-speed manual you leave it in 6th, tromp the accelerator, and the car without any effort gets you where you want to be. It is such a wonderful feeling that you will find yourself on open stretches of road doing it just for the fun of it.

Volkswagen’s new-for-2015 EA288 TDI engine is a pleasure to drive. In my reviews of the 2013 Jetta TDI and 2014 Jetta TDI, I was impressed with those car’s earlier version of VW’s 2.0L TDI engine that “only” produced 140 hp. With their new engine, Volkswagen has raised the bar in clean diesel engine design and technology, which will only challenge competitors to up their game, too.

The Driving Experience

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI is quiet and smooth, with a sure-footed driving experience. The SE model I was driving had 17-inch alloy wheels and Continental ProContact All-season tires, which

2015 Volkswagen, VW Golf, TDI SE,fuel economy,mpg,clean diesel

Not a passing fad

gripped well. Precise handling, with only the slightest push if I powered through a corner, came via the strut-type front suspension with coil springs and the multi-link, coil springs and anti-roll bar on the rear. Volkswagen makes a very sporty version of the Golf, the GTI, that is an absolute rocketship and handles like a slot car. The Golf TDI Clean Fleet Report was driving handled flat and nimble, so one can only imagine how the GTI performs.

Road feel was excellent with speed-variable, electric-mechanical power-assist steering that thankfully was not programmed to take away the fun of driving. Body roll was almost non-existent, even when pushed above recommended corner speed limits, and highway 70+ mph cruising was solid and confident. We can only imagine how the 18-inch wheels on the SEL model would make the driving experience even better.

Of course, a good handling car is nothing without good brakes. The Golf TDI comes standard with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), power-assisted vented front and solid rear discs. A good test for brakes is downhill mountain roads, with constant turning, where the brake load is applied on straight, right and left-hand corners. I experienced no fade with instant response when braking through such corners. On the flats, the stops were straight, true and consistent.

Driving Experience: Interior

2015, VW Golf, Volkswagen TDI, clean diesel, mpg, fuel economy

German style–finished in Mexico

Assembled in Pueblo, Mexico, the 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI comes in three trim levels: S, SE and SEL. Clean Fleet Report was driving the SE model, which has an updated interior for 2015 featuring a clean fit and finish that was German tight with a good mix of soft and hard plastics. The simple layout of all gauges was uncomplicated by fake woods, plastic chrome pieces or other design gimmicks — which often can be found on other cars. Volkswagen says their “driver centric design focus” begins with the new center stack for 2015, which is angled towards the driver. Up until recently this has been a design feature only appearing on premium, luxury or performance vehicles, but it is now making its way into many interiors. The white backlighting for the dash gauges also added a premium element.

The light beige, heated, V-tex leatherette front seats have better-than-average bolstering and include a manual height-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment. There was a good choice of seat settings so that, combined with the height adjustable and telescoping steering column, a comfortable position could be found, making long drives a breeze. The front seats are separated by a center console that has a height-adjustable armrest and storage area. Head, leg, elbow and shoulder room was accommodating, even for 6’+ drivers and passengers. The trunk space is more than can be found on the largest midsize sedan. If only the driver and front seat passenger are on a long weekender, the rear seat, with a ski pass-through opening, has a very handy system for lowering the 60/40 split seatback, providing 52.7 cubic feet of cargo capacity — large enough for a full-size bicycle. When visiting your VW dealer, take the time to configure the seats to see the options and spaciousness of the interior for sitting or storage.

Taking center stage of the dash is the capacitive and proximity sensor 5.8-inch color touchscreen that handles the rear view camera and navigation. Capacitive technology is similar to what is

2015 VW, Volkswagen Golf TDI,clean diesel,mpg, fuel economy

Comfort in psuedo-leather

found on smartphones and tablets and allows for functions such as swiping and pinch-zooming. While all this modern touchscreen technology is nice, Clean Fleet Report is a big fan of knobs and switches for the radio and climate controls. VW does a nice job of making it easy to operate the radio and single zone HVAC system with the turn of a few knobs. The dash design is two-toned beige and black, with accents of chrome, aluminum and piano-black finishes, accompanied by a leather-wrapped gearshift knob and hand brake handle.

The centerpiece of the infotainment system is the eight-speaker, with subwoofer, Fender premium sound system. This well-balanced system delivers deep, full crisp tones for the AM/FM radio/CD/MP3 player. Also part of the infotainment system is SiriusXM (a must for those long, fuel-efficient road trips), Bluetooth for telephone and streaming music and VW’s Media Device Interface, or MDI, which includes a SD card slot. Volkswagen still does not offer USB technology, but Clean Fleet Report was promised it is coming soon.

Other conveniences are a power tilting and sliding panoramic sunroof, power windows with one touch operation and pinch protection, keyless access, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, power adjustable and manual folding heated exterior mirrors, automatic rain-sensing variable intermittent front windshield wipers with heated washer nozzles, multi-function car analytics and trip computer display, multiple power ports, front and rear reading lights and front and rear carpeted floor mats. Standard on all Golf trim levels is Volkswagen’s VW CarNet connected car technology that provides a seamless link between the car and an iPhone, Android smartphone or computer, or as Volkswagen says it “keeps you connected with your car even when you’re apart.” It comes as a full feature introductory trial, with subscription available.

Driving Experience: Exterior

The Golf TDI exterior has been refreshed for 2015, beginning with the recognizable steeply sloped hood. The overall length and width for 2015 have been increased while the height has been

2015 Golf, VW, Volkswagen, TDI, clean diesel, mpg,fuel economy

An adult space in the rear

reduced slightly. The front end leads off with a narrow grill and sleek headlights on the outer edges that begin the character line leading to the horizontal tail lamps. The roof is dominated visually (when opened), by the sunroof, the shark fin antenna and the integrated spoiler. This overall design is built on the MQB (Modular Transverse Matrix) architecture and has a “cab backward” look that gives it a lower visual center of gravity.  All this has reduced aerodynamic drag to .029, the same as the 2015 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta. The rear window is large, providing excellent sightlines.

Safety and Convenience

All 2015 Volkswagen Golfs come with six airbags, Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS). Our Golf TDI SE also had Automatic Headlights and Daytime Running Lights, front fog lights, and Rear Parking Distance Control sensors.  Additional safety features, available on the SE and SEL trim levels, include driver assistance systems and the lighting package.

Pricing and Warranties

2015 Volkswagen, VW Golf TDI,clean diesel,mpg, fuel economy

A secret passage

2015 Golf TDI Pricing, NOT including the $820 Destination Charge.

S with Manual                                    $22,345

S with Automatic                               $23,445

SE with Manual                                 $25,895

SE with Automatic                            $26,995

SEL with Manual                              $28,395

SEL with Automatic                         $29,495

All 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI models come with these warranties:

  • Basic: Three-year/36,000-mile
  • Powertrain: Five-year/60,000-mile
  • Free scheduled maintenance: One-year/12,000-mile
  • Roadside assistance: Three-year/36,000-mile
  • Corrosion perforation: 12-year/Unlimited

Sales

Volkswagen has 75-percent of the diesel passenger vehicle sales in the USA and is #1 in sales versus diesel competitors, with little on the horizon to knock VW off that perch. Therefore, you can purchase a VW TDI-powered car (Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat and Touareg) with confidence of its many years and millions of real-world miles of proven clean diesel technology.

Observations: 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE

The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf continues the long heritage of a fun, nimble compact car being a favorite of drivers worldwide. The clean diesel models take this car one step further by

2015, VW Golf, Volkswagen TDI, clean diesel,fuel economy,mpg

All systems go(lf)

delivering stellar fuel economy. Clean Fleet Report has now tested most of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Volkswagen TDI offerings and easily place them in the top of all the cars and SUVs we have driven. They are smooth, quiet, powerful and get excellent fuel economy against their class competition.

Being a leader in clean diesel technology is not the end of Volkswagen’s environmental and sustainability efforts. Volkswagen is an active partner with The Conservation Fund in the reclamation and preservation of redwood forests, specifically the Garcia River Forest in Northern California’s Sonoma County. Going even further than this project, Volkswagen has made a commitment across its 12 brands worldwide and 118 production locations on four continents to be the most sustainable automobile manufacturer in the world by the year 2018.

Find a Volkswagen dealer that will let you take the Golf TDI on the open highway, around some mountain twisties and crawl all around the interior experimenting with the seat and storage options. You may find the larger car you have been considering for interior space, or the smaller car for fuel economy will be crossed off your shopping and consideration list.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

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Road Test: 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI

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Road Test: 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI

Road Test: 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI

The Perfect Car?

Clean Fleet Report staffers are frequently asked, “What car should I buy?” Our answer is always some version of “What type of driving do you do?” From there we ferret-out that the family of four

2015 Volkswagen,VW Sportwagen,Golf TDI, clean diesel

Outstanding in its field

may want but have no practical need for a Mazda MX-5 Miata; the single woman with her first job out of college should probably stay away from a Cadillac Escalade and the person driving to work 80 miles round trip, five days a week, should be driving an electric car such as a Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen eGolf, Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Ford Focus EV, BMW i3 or Kia Soul EV.

But what about the vast majority of people that have a need for a versatile car that can carry four passengers and all sorts of stuff, is comfortable on long trips and zippy around town, and when driven reasonably can get 45+ mpg? Oh, and the car needs to cost less than $30,000. Impossible, you say. But not if you consider the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI, which just possibly might be the prefect car for the vast majority of the driving public.

Driving Experience: On the Road

As we found in our review of the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the 2015 Golf SportWagen TDI’s distinctive diesel rumble is low in volume at idle, but not heard when driving. Volkswagen’s all-new 2.0L turbocharged and intercooled clean diesel engine, known internally at VW as the EA288, puts out 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque that kicks-in at a low 1,750 rpm. Our test car was mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission and was rated at 31 city / 43 highway / 35 combined. The highway rating is one mph less for the six-speed DSG automatic transmission. In 1,392 miles of driving from Southern California to the Northern California Sonoma County wine region, I averaged 47.9 mpg with a ratio of 80-percent highway and 20-percent city driving.

2015 Volkswagen,VW Golf Sportwagen,TDI clean diesel

Talk softly and shift a short stick

The six-speed manual has short throws, a light and smooth clutch, and the gears are easy to find without any grinding or hunting. For hypermilers, there is an Upshift light in the speedometer cluster. If you follow it, the fun of driving this car is reduced significantly, but of course doing so will maximize the fuel economy, especially when the light wants you to be in 6th gear at 45 mph. The true economy comes at freeway speeds in 6th gear, which at 70 mph has the tachometer reading about 2,000 rpm.

So what kind of fun can you have in the TDI with a manual? This car, when asked, has instant, fast, push-you-back-in-your-seat torque that will bring a big smile to your face. The torque is smooth at any speed and delivers exactly as expected in the lower gears. Where you will really appreciate the pull of the TDI engine is at freeway speeds. For example, when traveling at 65 mph and needing to briefly get to 75 mph+ for passing, leave it in 6th, tromp the accelerator and the car without any effort gets you where you want to be. It is such a wonderful feeling that you will find yourself on open stretches of road doing it just for the fun of it.

By now you must have sensed I enjoy and appreciate Volkswagen’s new-for-2015 EA288 TDI engine. In my reviews of the 2013 Jetta TDI and 2014 Jetta TDI, I was impressed with those car’s earlier version of VW’s 2.0L TDI engine that “only” produced 140 hp. Volkswagen has raised the bar in clean diesel engine design and technology, which will only challenge competitors to up their game too.

The Driving Experience

The 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI is quiet and smooth, making for a very enjoyable driving experience. The base S model I was driving had 16-inch wheels and all-season tires

2015,VW,Volkswagen,Sportwagen,Golf,TDI, clean diesel

It can do so much

which provided tight and precise handling via the strut-type front suspension with coil springs and the multi-link, coil springs and anti-roll bar on the rear. The Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI is fun to drive and lives up to its name of being sporty.

Road feel was excellent with electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering that was not programmed to take away the fun of driving. Body roll was almost non-existent, even when pushed above the recommended corner speed limits on the seemingly endless turns through the Northern California redwood forests. The 17-inch wheels on the SE and 18-inch wheels on the SEL models likely would make the driving experience even better.

A good handling car of course is nothing without good brakes. The Golf SportWagen TDI comes standard with ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), power assisted front vented and rear solid discs. A good test for brakes is downhill mountain roads, with constant turning, where the brake load is applied on straight, right and left hand corners. I experienced no fade with instant response when braking through corners. On the flats, the stops were straight, true and confident.

Driving Experience: Interior

I was driving the nicely optioned base model 2015 Golf SportWagen TDI S. The interior fit and finish, updated for 2015, was German tight with a good mix of soft and hard plastics. The simple layout of all gauges was uncomplicated by fake woods, plastic chrome pieces or other design gimmicks often found on other cars.

2015,VW Golf, Volkswagen Sportwagen TDI,clean diesel

Al Germanic, all the time

The two-tone, V-Tex leatherette front seats have better-than-average bolstering and include a manual height-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment and power recline. There was a good choice of seat settings that, when combined with the height adjustable and telescoping steering column, resulted in a comfortable position that made long drives a breeze. At 5’ 9,” I fit in all cars, including open wheel racers, so a true test was having a 6’ 1” associate sit in the driver’s seat and when positioned, have him climb into the back to check leg, knee and head room. The Golf SportWagen accommodated my friend in comfort with room to spare. The rear seat for three adults would be fine for commuting short distances, but as with most cars, for longer trips, two in the rear seat would be preferred for comfort and space.

That rear seat, with a ski pass-through opening, has a very handy system for lowering the 60/40 split seatback making for, as Volkswagen states, an “expansive” space that is “cavernous…and…in line with those of compact SUVs.” This is completely true, so when visiting your VW dealer take the time to see for yourself and speculate how owning a car with this much passenger and storage space could enhance your life.

Taking center stage of the dash is the capacitive, touch sensor 5.8-inch color touchscreen. Its capacitive technology is similar to what is found on smartphones and allows for functions such as

2015 VW, Volkswagen TDI, Sportwagen clean diesel

The SUV pretender

swiping and pinch-zooming. While all this modern touchscreen technology is nice, Clean Fleet Report is a big fan of knobs and switches for the radio and climate controls. VW does a nice job of making it easy to operate the radio and HVAC system with the turn of a knob.

The eight-speaker sound system delivers deep, full crisp tones for the AM/FM radio and CD player (which also has MP3 playback). Also part of the infotainment system is SiriusXM (a must for those long, fuel-efficient road trips), Bluetooth for telephone and streaming music, and VW’s Media Device Interface, or MDI, which includes a SD card slot. Volkswagen still does not offer USB technology, but Clean Fleet Report was promised it is coming soon.

Other conveniences are power windows with-one touch operation and pinch protection, keyless access, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, handbrake lever and shift knob, cruise control, power adjustable and manual folding heated exterior mirrors, variable intermittent front windshield wipers, multi-function display with car analytics and trip computer, multiple power ports and a 115V plug, and a rearview camera. Standard on all Golf SportWagen trim levels is Volkswagen’s VW CarNet connected car technology that provides a seamless link between the car and an iPhone, Android smartphone or computer, or, as Volkswagen says, it “keeps you connected with your car even when you’re apart.”

Driving Experience: Exterior

The Golf SportWagen TDI exterior has been refreshed for 2015 with subtle changes to the front and rear from its predecessor the Jetta SportWagen. Based on the MQB (Modular Transverse Matrix) architecture, the Golf SportWagen TDI has a “cab backward” look that gives it a lower visual center of gravity. Beginning with a slim front grill, the sculptured hood rises naturally up through the sloping A-pillar to the roof, which has standard roof rails, and continues to the tailgate where there is an integrated spoiler. The rear window is large, providing excellent visuals, and the tailgate opening to access the interior is a generous 40.6” wide with only a 24.8” high lift over. I had the back of this wagon loaded on my trip through California but had room to spare.

Safety and Convenience

All 2015 Volkswagen SportWagens come with six airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). Additional driver assistance systems are available on the SE and SEL trim levels.

Pricing and Warranties

2015 VW,Sportwagen TDI, Golf clean diesel

New engine, new name

2015 Golf SportWagen TDI Pricing, not including the $820 Destination Charge.

S with Manual                                    $24,595

S with Automatic                                $25,695

SE with Manual                                  $27,995

SE with Automatic                              $29,095

SEL with Manual                                 $30,345

SEL with Automatic                            $31,445

All 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen models come with these warranties:

  • Basic Three-year/36,000-mile
  • Powertrain Five-year/60,000-mile
  • First Scheduled Maintenance/One-year/12,000-mile
  • Roadside Assistance Three-year/36,000-mile
  • Corrosion Perforation 12-year/Unlimited

Sales

Volkswagen has 75-percent of the passenger vehicle diesel sales in the USA and is #1 in sales versus diesel competitors. There’s little on the horizon to knock VW off that perch. VW’s deep TDI-powered lineup (Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat and Touareg) shows its commitment to the diesel market, so you can expect real-world miles to prove out its clean diesel technology.

Observations: 2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen TDI S

Volkswagen’s designers have delivered an upscale wagon with classic styling, clean lines and no useless cladding or body panels. I have now tested the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Jetta TDI and easily

2015, VW, Volkswagen, fuel economy, mpg, Sportwagen TDI, Golf Sportwagen

It’s all about the numbers

place them in the top of all the cars and SUVs I have driven. They are smooth, quiet, powerful and get excellent fuel economy against their class competition.

Being a leader in clean diesel technology is not the end of Volkswagen’s environmental and sustainability efforts. Volkswagen is an active partner with The Conservation Fund in the reclamation and preservation of redwood forests, specifically the Garcia River Forest in Northern California’s Sonoma County. Going even further than this project, Volkswagen has made a commitment across their 12 brands worldwide and 118 production locations on four continents to be the most sustainable automobile manufacturer in the world by the year 2018.

So, when you are looking to buy a car, and Clean Fleet Report highly recommends the 2015 Golf SportWagen TDI, there’s something more you could be considering in addition to the car itself.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

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First Drive: 2014 VW Tiguan TDI

 

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

The Clean Diesel Standard Setter

Clean Fleet Report reviews more than 50 cars, trucks and SUVs a year, which means we experience a wide range of vehicles across a spectrum of design, features, performance, fuel economy and, of course, price. So it is a real treat when we are handed the keys to a car that stands-out from its class competitors. The latest for me was the 10 days and more than 1,000 miles I spent driving the

2015,VW,Volkswagen,Jetta,TDI,clean diesel,mpg, fuel economy

The leader of the compact pack

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SE throughout California, which included a trip up the Eastern Sierras and into Yosemite National Park.

Volkswagen has massaged the Jetta design over the years to continue the long German tradition of clean lines, good handling and performance, plus, in the case of the TDI, class-leading fuel economy.

Driving Experience: On the Road

On pushing the start-up button, the 2015 Jetta TDI’s distinctive diesel rumble is low in volume, but disappears when driving. Volkswagen’s all-new 2.0L turbocharged and intercooled clean diesel engine, known internally at VW as the EA288, puts out 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque that kicks-in at a low 1,750 rpm. Our test car was mated to a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission that is rated at 31 city / 46 highway / 36 combined. (The highway rating is one mph less for the six-speed DSG automatic transmission.) In 1,135 miles of driving Southern California freeways and climbing and descending the Sierras to as high as 9,500-feet, I averaged 52.2 mpg. Take away those mountain treks and who knows what numbers could be achieved.

 

2015 VW,Volkswagen Jetta, TDI clean diesel,mpg,power,fuel economy, passing power,turbocharged

Fuel economy plus power–what’s not to like

The manual has short throws, a smooth and not-so-heavy clutch, and the gears are easy to find without any grinding or hunting. For the hyper milers, there is an Upshift light in the speedometer cluster. If you follow it, the fun of driving this car is reduced significantly. Of course, doing so will maximize the fuel economy, especially when the light wants you to be in 6th gear at 45 mph. The true economy comes at freeway speeds in 6th gear, when at 70 mph the tachometer is reading about 2,000 rpm.

So what kind of fun can you have in the TDI with a manual? When asked, this car has instant, push-you-back-in-your-seat torque that brings a big smile to your face. The torque delivery is smooth at any speed and delivers exactly as expected when in the lower gears. Where you will really appreciate the pull of the TDI engine is at freeway speeds. For example, when traveling at 65 mph and needing to briefly get to 75 mph+ for passing, most automatics would kick down from 6th into 5th or 4th, but with the six-speed manual you leave it in 6th, tromp the accelerator and the car without any effort gets you where you want to be. It is such a wonderful feeling that you will find yourself on open stretches of road doing it just for the fun of it.

By now you must have sensed I enjoy and appreciate Volkswagen’s new-for-2015 EA288 TDI engine. In my reviews of the 2013 Jetta TDI and 2014 Jetta TDI, I was impressed with those car’s 2.0L TDI engines that “only” produced 140 hp. Volkswagen has raised the bar in clean diesel engine design and technology, which will only challenge competitors to up their game too.

Driving Experience: Interior

I was driving the nicely optioned 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SE with Connectivity. The interior fit and finish, which has been updated for 2015, was German tight, with a good mix of soft and hard plastics, no unnecessary fake woods, plastic chrome pieces or design gimmicks often found on other cars.

2015 VW,Volkswagen Jetta TDI,clean diesel

An upscale interior

The heated leatherette front seats have better-than-average bolstering and include a manual adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment. There was a good

2015 VW,Volkswagen TDI, rear seat

Room to stretch in the rear

choice of seat settings that, when combined with the height adjustable and telescoping steering column, made a comfortable position easy to be found, making long drives a breeze. At 5-foot-9, I fit in all cars, including open wheel racers, so a true test was having a 6-foot-1 associate sit in the driver’s seat and, when positioned, have him climb into the back to check leg, knee and head room. The Jetta accommodated my friend in comfort with room to spare. The rear seat for three adults would be fine for commuting, but as with most compact cars, for longer trips two in the rear seat would be preferred for comfort and space.

The six-speaker, Premium VIII sound system with a touchscreen AM/FM/HD radio and CD changer with MP3 playback, delivers a deep, full sound. Also part of the infotainment system was SiriusXM (a must for those long, fuel-efficient road trips), Bluetooth for telephone and streaming music, and VW’s Media Device Interface, or MDI. It all worked very well, but one oddity is that VW does not offer a USB port on the Jetta. There is a built-in adapter cable to which you can attach an aftermarket cable to make the car USB capable.

Other conveniences are the power tilting and sliding sunroof, power windows with one touch operation and pinch protection, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, power-adjustable and manual-folding heated exterior mirrors and a rearview camera. Another nice touch are the variable intermittent windshield wipers with heated washer nozzles. Living in Southern

2015 VW,VW Jetta,TDI, clean diesel,trunk

A trunk capable of carrying the passengers’ luggage

California, heated nozzles may not be used too often, but in cold weather climates they make perfect sense.

The 60/40 folding rear seat with a ski pass-through opening and a very large trunk provides for excellent storage capacity. The Jetta TDI easily seats five and can handle their luggage too. Make no mistake, the Jetta TDI is a spacious, comfortable car.

Driving Experience: Exterior

The Jetta TDI exterior has been refreshed for 2015 with subtle changes to the front and rear, including front grill shutters that close to increase aerodynamics and reduce wind resistance. In the rear there is an integrated aerodynamic trailing edge on the trunk lid that gives the car a more upscale look and improves wind flow for increased fuel economy. Overall, I like the conservative-leaning Jetta exterior styling with its clean lines and no useless cladding or body panels. VW calls this “class-up appeal” in which they offer more for less. I agree.

The Driving Experience

The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI SE is quiet and smooth, making for a very enjoyable driving experience. The SE model I was driving had 16-inch wheels and all-season tires, which provided above-average handling via the strut-type front suspension with coil springs and telescopic dampers, and the multi-link, coil springs, telescopic dampers and anti-roll bar on the rear

2015 Volkswagen,VW Jetta,TDI clean diesel

Attitude at altitude

Road feel was excellent with electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering that was not programmed to take away the fun of driving. Body roll was almost non-existent, even when pushed above the recommended corner speed limits on the seemingly endless turns through the Sierras. The 17-inch wheels on the SEL model might have made the driving experience even better.

Of course, a good handling car is nothing without good brakes. The Jetta comes standard with ABS, power-assisted front vented and rear solid discs. A good test for brakes are downhill mountain roads, with constant turning, where the brake load is applied on straight, right and left hand corners. I experienced no fade with instant response when braking through corners. On the flats, the stops were straight, true and confident.

Safety and Convenience

All 2015 Volkswagen Jettas come with six airbags, Electronic Stability Control and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, TPMS. An available option on the SEL model is the Driver Assistance Package that includes Forward Collision Warning, Blind Sport Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert.

Pricing and Warranties

2015 Jetta TDI Pricing, including the $820 Destination Charge:

S with manual                                    $22,460

S with automatic                                $23,560

SE with Connectivity and Manual       $24,895

SE with Connectivity and Automatic   $25,995

2015 VW,Jetta TDI,Volkswagen,clean diesel,mpg,fuel economy

A true road warrior

SEL with Connectivity and Manual      $27,230

SEL with Connectivity and Automatic  $28,330

All 2015 Volkswagen Jetta models come with these warranties:

  • 3-year/36,000-mile Basic
  • 5-year/60,000-mile Powertrain
  • 1-year/12,000-mile First Scheduled Maintenance
  • 3-year/36,000-mile Roadside Assistance
  • 12-year/Unlimited miles Corrosion Perforation

Sales

Volkswagen has 75-percent of the passenger vehicle diesel sales in the USA, a clear number one in sales versus diesel competitors. Little on the horizon is likely to knock VW off that perch. Therefore, you can purchase a VW TDI-powered car (Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat and Touareg) with confidence of its quality, workmanship and many years and millions of real-world miles of proven clean diesel technology.

Observations: 2015 Jetta TDI SE

I have now tested the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Jetta TDI and easily place them in the top of all the cars, trucks and SUVs I have driven. They are smooth, quiet, powerful and get excellent fuel economy against their class competition.

2015 VW,Jetta TDI, badge

A badge of honor

The 2015 Jetta TDI SE has had minor but important interior and exterior design changes that make it the best overall car in its class for comfort, torque, fuel economy and ease of operation. The SE is a nicely equipped car but for added safety and convenience, I would recommend the SEL with the Driver Assistance Package & Lighting Package ($1,690 option) and the six-speed DSG

automatic. Doing so, you will have a fully equipped car at less than the $31,200 average price paid for a new car in 2014 in the United States.

The 2015 Jetta TDI SE will make your commuting and those long road trips a pleasure as will the infrequent stops to fill the tank.

Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!

Related stories you might enjoy:

Road Test: 2013 VW Jetta Hybrid vs. Jetta TDI

Road Test: 2014 VW Jetta TDI

Road Test: 2014 Chevy Cruze Turbo Diesel


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