Although it doesn't officially go on sale until September, VW's super-clean diesel-powered Jetta TDI is already generating major showroom buzz. According to Automotive News, many dealers say they've already taken orders for most of the vehicles they expect to receive as part of their 2009 allocations. VW is projecting combined annual sales of 15,000 units for the new Jetta TDI sedan and SportWagen, whose turbocharged direct-injected diesel engines are clean enough to pass emissions muster in all 50 states. However, insiders also expect that volume will rise significantly by 2010 -- pending a bit more stability in the price of diesel fuel.
Stickering at $22,640 and $24,640, these new Jetta TDIs will command about a $2,000 premium over their gasoline-engine sedan and wagon counterparts, although that hit will be largely offset by a $1,300 federal income tax credit. In turn, their 29/40 mpg EPA city/highway numbers are more than 30 percent better than the 21/29 mpg stats of conventional Jettas -- and reflect a 12 percent bump over VW's previous-generation TDI engine. At their introduction, they'll also be the only diesel-powered vehicles available in the U.S. for under $25,000.
The Jetta's new 2.0-liter TDI develops a solid 140-horsepower and an impressive 236 lb-ft of torque. To attain its elusive 50-state status, VW engineers had to comprehensively revamp the design of its turbodiesel predecessor, last sold here in 2006. That process involved making numerous internal tweaks and implementing even more precise control of the combustion and exhaust gas recirculation processes as well as employing external elements that include a zero-maintenance NOx scrubber, a catalytic converter and a particulate trap. No word as to where else the new TDI motivator will land in the VW's U.S. mix, but the Tiguan, Rabbit or New Beetle would be the most likely potential candidates.