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Vital Stats

Engine:
2.0L Turbo Diesel
Power:
140 HP / 236 lb-ft
Transmission:
6-Speed Manual
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,161 lbs
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
15.5 cu-ft
MPG:
30 City / 42 Hwy
2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI – Click above for high-res image gallery

If you had told us last year that this year's most controversial redesign would be the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, we would've politely walked away and laughed at your outrageous claim behind your back. We're like that. But here we are, and the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is, arguably, the most controversial redesign of the year.

The reason is not so much how the designer's hand has changed the car's look, but rather how the bean counters and product managers have completely changed what the Jetta is. It's no longer a premium compact sedan with a price to match. Now it's a near-mid-size four-door with an ultra-competitive base price.

Jetta fans and auto journalists have been less than enthused with the changes. Buyers, however, apparently disagree. Sales of the new Jetta through April are up 68.8 percent. So which camp is right?

After the untimely demise of our last long-term Jetta (follow the jump for the whole story), a 2010 model year TDI Cup Street Edition, we were offered a 2011 model to take its place. Driving these two diesel Jettas back-to-back will help us craft a before-and-after snapshot of what the car has gained and lost with this latest redesign.

Our particular long-term tester is a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI with Tempest Blue Metallic exterior and Titan Black Leatherete interior. We chose the six-speed manual transmission and added the optional navigation system, which raised our MSRP from a base of $22,995 to $24,195 (excluding a $770 destination charge). There's only one way to configure a more expensive 2011 Jetta TDI: add the six-speed DSG transmission, which raises the price to $25,295.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI

Since we'll be pointing out lots of differences between our old 2010 model year Jetta TDI and this 2011, let's start with price. Our 2010 long-term diesel Jetta had a higher initial base price of $24,990 and was loaded with every option except a nav system for a grand total of $31,113. It's a shocking difference, though let's not forget our last car was laden with the expensive Cup Street package, which isn't available on the new 2011 model (if it were, we would've definitely ordered it again – if only for the immensely comfortable, supportive and stylish plaid seats). Forget the Cup package and the price difference is still over $4,000 between last year's and this year's model.

The purpose of spending a year with the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is to find out if that $4,000 price cut has ruined a vehicle we were falling head over heels for. Keep your eyes locked on the official Autoblog Facebook page for the majority of our updates, as well as the official Autoblog Twitter account (@therealautoblog, look for the #ablongterm hashtag).

We're already piling on the miles, so let us know what questions you'd like answered in the comments.



So Long, Heidi: How The 2010 Jetta TDI Cup Street Died
by Steven J. Ewing

2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Street Cup

I was scheduled to have the Jetta TDI Cup Street in my possession for a good portion of our time with the car. Six days after Editor-In-Chief Neff handed me the keys, I snapped the photo you see here of our diesel Jetta being towed out of my friend's apartment complex, never to be seen again.

Six days. The short-term test cars I review are in my care for longer amounts of time than this long-termer.

The Jetta TDI Cup Street ran like a dream up until its sudden death. It was our little German sweetheart – "Heidi" (as associate editor Zach Bowman and I named her), fit me like a glove.

The car hadn't had a single fault in the eight months it had been in service with the Autoblog crew.
I was explaining to my friend how great the Jetta had been, citing that while modern Volkswagen automobiles have notoriously plagued with glitches and gremlins, Heidi hadn't had a single fault in the eight months it had been in service with the Autoblog crew. I put the Jetta into Drive, started to pull away, and the car came to a slamming halt, an "Engine Shut Down" warning glaring at me from the instrument panel. Confused, I turned the key again, the engine fired back up, and I drove approximately ten feet into a different parking space, at which point the engine shut down again and refused to turn over.

Heidi was dead.

One call to Volkswagen's roadside service department and 15 minutes later, the Jetta's front wheels were hoisted off the ground, strapped to a tow truck and pulled out of the still snowy parking lot. My last memory with that Jetta involved slipping on a patch of ice and falling into the rear passenger's side door after gathering up all of my belongings. Insult now had injury.

The car was taken to Howard Cooper Volkswagen in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the diagnosis was grim. Due to a slow leak from the oil pan, our car had been running without oil for quite some time and both the engine and turbocharger seized. Now, it's important to note that no warning lights were present on the Jetta letting us know about the low oil, but we must admit we may share some fault here.

2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Street Cup Edition2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Street Cup Edition
2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Street Cup Edition2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Street Cup Edition

Pressed for time before a long trip, when we took the car in for its most recent oil change, we neglected to use Volkswagen's lovely free scheduled maintenance feature and instead took the car to a local lube shop, where the technicians struggled with performing the oil change on the diesel Jetta. They had a tough time removing the skid plate in order to get to the oil pan, and apparently neglected to properly re-install the plug on the pan. Still, in the two and a half months after the oil change, not a single Autoblog staff member noticed oil pooling in driveways or parking lots or observed any other telltale problems. In short, we remain full of questions about the reasons for the Cup Street's demise, as it continued to perform brilliantly up until the very end.

We never saw Heidi again.

According to the post-mortem we received from VW authorities, our 2010 Cup Street Edition was eventually fitted with a new engine and a new turbocharger. After two months sitting at the dealership, it was returned to Volkswagen's headquarters. A few weeks later, I was given back the CD that I had left in the changer.

Our replacement 2011 Jetta TDI will only be serviced at Volkswagen dealers. And just to play it safe, we won't name this one, either.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 66 Comments
      Shiftright
      • 3 Years Ago
      Something is odd about the absence of indicators of the disappearing oil, but this only reinforces my view from experience that quickie lube chains are manned by the most moronic of so called 'car techs' trained only on how to upsell you on needless products and services when they are entrusted with the single most important bit of car maintenance . When in college, as now, I always did my own oil changes, but because of lack of time before a 750 mile trip between Detroit and Boston, I went to a Jiffy Lube. The idiots had stripped the oil drain bolt and replaced it with a rubber plug without telling me (also on a VW, coincidentally), which had gotten all mushy with the engine heat and began to leak oil. The oil pump minimized the oil's time in the pan, but once I stopped for food and a bathroom break the hot oil collected in the pan, further stressing the makeshift plug which yielded, spilling its entire contents in the middle of a parking lot somewhere in New York. Never, ever, ever again, and I did my best to badmouth them for as long as I could.
        creamwobbly
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Shiftright
        Thanks for the advice. I'll be sure to stick with the garage I trust, even though we've just moved 15 minutes further away. It used to be a short walk away from my old house.
        Clark
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Shiftright
        None of the quik-lube places that i've visited carry the proper oil for the TDI's anyhow, let alone knowing what you're talking about when you ask for the 507.00 spec. "Oh you must mean 5w-40, yeah no problem!"
      FormerTDIowner
      • 3 Years Ago
      I too had a TDI that had a mishap at an oil change at a Walmart. They reinstalled the drain plug incorrectly, stripping the aluminum oil pan. I also never detected a leak due to the fairing that completely encloses the bottom of the engine compartment. No one would take responsibility for the error due to the long mileage interval between oil changes (normal for synthetic motor oil). I really liked the car, but hated the problems that came with it and the $$$ to fix the everyman's car.
      godwhomismike
      • 3 Years Ago
      I hope you folks post more updates than you did with the last one. I had forgotten you folks had that TDI Cup. How does the handling compare? Have any of you taken it out on a nice twisty stretch of road yet? My eye is on the 2011 (or 2012) VW Golf TDI, which has the sports suspension and highly bolstered sporty seats. It is a few thousand more than the 2011 Jetta TDI. I kinda like the exterior look of the 2011 Jetta more than the Golf, but the Golf seems to have significantly higher grade of interior materials, the sports suspension, sporty bolstered seats, the higher end MDI display in the gauge cluster, and it's a hatchback. I do wish that tempest blue color was offered on the Golf. :(
      flyers7704
      • 3 Years Ago
      At least the VW diesels use a crush washer with the drain plug and require a new one with every oil change. Most people probably don't know that and run of the mill oil change places most likely don't either.
      brian
      • 3 Years Ago
      How much time did you save by taking it to the local lube place where the minimum-wage workers don't know what they were doing - Seems that process would have taken longer than if you'd simply taken it to the VW dealer like you should have...
      brianXL
      • 3 Years Ago
      So, when you took it to your local lube joint they filled the car with VW 507 approved oil, right? That is required on all current TDIs. I have never seen that stuff in a store around here. And they used the correct cartridge filter element? And after they told you they had trouble with the drain plug you diligently checked the oil using the dipstick to make sure it wasn't leaking, right? I am no fanboi, but I do have a 2010 Golf TDI and it's been great. Only my 2nd VW (Chevy guy at heart), but if it keeps running like it does I'll keep it as long as I can.
        3waygeek
        • 3 Years Ago
        @brianXL
        If you're in the US, your local PepBoys should have Mobil 1 VW 507.00 approved oil at around $7.99 per liter.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Awjvail
      • 3 Years Ago
      BTW - I wouldn't exactly blame the bean counters for the cheap feeling of the Jetta. Cheap is exactly what VW *wanted* and it is exactly what they got.
      BimmerFerret
      • 3 Years Ago
      So you took a car within its free maintenance period to some schlubs who probably know next to nothing on oil changes outside of pickup trucks, and probably never seen the engine bay of a Euro car, destroy a perfectly good (and somewhat rare with the cup package) TDI Jetta, and then VW sends you another new TDI? Wow. I wish car companies were this forgiving to the common person. If I did this they would tell me to go F myself in a nice way.
      tantareanujellob
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Due to a slow leak from the oil pan, our car had been running without oil for quite some time and both the engine and turbocharger seized. Now, it's important to note that no warning lights were present on the Jetta letting us know about the low oil, but we must admit we may share some fault here." VW reliability strikes again. GM screws up diesels for one generation and VW is doing the same for the next. Nice work VW.
        creamwobbly
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tantareanujellob
        Err, no. A bad oil change compounded with trusting a faulty oil light. Three things, only one of which is VW's fault.
        NightFlight
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tantareanujellob
        What in the hell are you talking about??? Are you trying to compare the GM Oldsmobile diesel-ized 5.7 from the 70's and 80's to a clean, modern diesel powerplant? That engine was an utter disaster and everyone knew it, it was a gasoline engine made to run diesel, the TDI was a diesel from the beginning. Also, show me one vehicle that won't leak its oil if the plug is installed incorrectly.
          NightFlight
          • 3 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          @ tantareanujellob Wow, I really got a laugh out of this response. Name calling is a sign of low intelligence. Judging by the rest of your posts on this site I would say that the assumption is correct since you yourself didn't comprehend the entire article. To futher demonstrate my point, and to quote AB: "The car was taken to Howard Cooper Volkswagen in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and the diagnosis was grim. Due to a slow leak from the oil pan........... (the lube shop) apparently neglected to properly re-install the plug on the pan." So, there you have it, the drain plug was installed incorrectly. That's fine, keep on calling people names and look like an even bigger idiot. This is one of those times where you smack your forehead and wish for a "Remove Comment" button. You sir, are a genius.
          tantareanujellob
          • 3 Years Ago
          @NightFlight
          Read the article fucktard. The OIL PAN was leaking, not the plug.
        welshy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @tantareanujellob
        "They had a tough time removing the skid plate in order to get to the oil pan, and apparently neglected to properly re-install the plug on the pan." "Read the article fucktard. The OIL PAN was leaking, not the plug." Wow, you are the idiot of the day.
      tantareanujellob
      • 3 Years Ago
      Low oil light never turned on. Another VW to the scrap heap.
      NightFlight
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The purpose of spending a year with the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI is to find out if that $4,000 price cut has ruined a vehicle we were falling head over heels for. " Seriously? You already answered your own question, Autoblog: "Jetta fans and auto journalists have been less than enthused with the changes." We've already found this out, it has. I've driven two now, and I certainly wouldn't buy one. Why are you even going to bother with ANOTHER long term Jetta TDI? Why can't you mix it up and get something OTHER than a VW sedan? How about a coupe of some sort? What about a popular CUV to see if it is all it is cracked up to be? How about an all out performance vehicle and see what it is like to live with it day in and day out? I think this is a pretty dumb move and I certainly won't even bother reading the reports.
        Synthono
        • 3 Years Ago
        @NightFlight
        While we've found out that it makes the vehicle less worthy in the short term, what we haven't found out is if the cheap Jetta can stand up to the rigors of long ownership. I'm actually very curious about how this car is going to hold up long term, especially considering the sheer number of corners cut.
          Synthono
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Synthono
          I'm not expecting something different so much as I'm curious how bad it is. VW couldn't get decent reliability when their cars weren't decontented, I'm really wondering just how bad it is and whether new and exciting things are going to break now. Call it the same instinct that causes us to stare at a train crash. I genuinely want to see just what happens with this thing over the long term, and not because I expect it to come out strong.
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