Tag Archives: Volkswagen

Test Driven: 2013 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI manual (9/10)

2013 Jetta Sportwagen TDI

Most American car buyers would reject this straight away. As a wagon, it still carries the “neutered” stigma developed in the era before minivans. As a diesel, it is different, and therefore is terrifying. And as a manual, most people could not operate it, and would not be bothered to learn. So the Jetta Sportwagen TDI cannot possibly appeal to the mass droves of uninterested laymen, and that means it must be pretty good. This is a thinking person’s car, and among high MPG wagons, it is by far the enthusiast’s choice.

You see, not all enthusiast cars need to be about high performance. They just need to be engaging for the driver in performing a given task. Practicality and fuel efficiency define the main purposes of the Jetta Sportwagen TDI. It is undoubtedly a car that will be daily driven, and used for all manner of tasks. As a wagon that can see over 40mpg, its only real competitors are the Toyota Prius V and the Ford C-MAX. Obviously those are both hybrids, so the VW’s approach is quite different from theirs.

Continue reading Test Driven: 2013 VW Jetta Sportwagen TDI manual (9/10)

VW Jetta Hybrid observed MPG


I have been getting many questions about the real world fuel economy of the VW Jetta Hybrid. I figured I would share this to give people an idea of what is possible with smart attentive driving.

On my trip to class today, roughly 40 miles on back roads with lots of hills and corners, I averaged 50.7 mpg. That is almost 3mpg more than the EPA says the maximum highway mileage is for this car. I did this not by “hyper mile-ing”, but by driving normally and paying attention to the car’s systems in conjunction with my surroundings. I stayed within 5mph of the posted speed limit as well, as to keep things realistic. Weather was around 60 degrees F, with a light breeze.

Our car has just under 5000 miles on it now, and is just getting fully mechanically broken in. When we first got the car we were seeing averages in the lower-mid 30s, and MPG has steadily increased as we have put miles on the car.

Now, keep in mind I was trying to drive as efficiently as reasonably possible, so I was paying special attention to how much throttle I was using, and planning when to use the gas motor to keep the battery charged. I have found that when I drive the car like i normally drive, typically 10-15mph over the speed limit, then the car seems to average more in the high 30mpg range. The Jetta Hybrid is turbocharged, so your mpg depends mostly on your right foot. It is pretty quick, especially for a car capable of 50mpg, but realize that there is a big tradeoff between using its performance abilities and getting “great” fuel economy.

That said, this is definitive proof that the VW Jetta Hybrid will deliver its claimed fuel economy in the real world, so long as it is driven properly.

Edit: I drove home using the same methods, this time on an all highway route, and saw 48.3mpg, exactly what VW claims. It is more difficult to “sail” on the electric motor at highway speeds, especially with the varied terrain in my area. I was able to coast on downgrades, but in general there were less opportunities for the electric motor to do its thing, and more traffic to deal with. My average for the day wound up being 49.5mpg, much higher than the EPA’s stated average of 45mpg. I think the Jetta Hybrid’s true fuel economy potential (with good driving) is more like 51 mpg in town and country driving, and 48mpg on the highway. Again, this is all staying within 5mph of the posted speed limit. It is both a realistic and acceptable driving style, but if you let your lead foot get the best of you then you will see you mpg drop off.


Test Driven: 2010 VW CC 2.0T (10/10)

Volkswagen CC front

Volkswagen had a bit of genius when they built the CC. Obviously they took the coupe-sedan idea from the Mercedes CLS, but unlike the Mercedes, the CC was generally affordable. It sold like hotcakes because, while underneath it was just a VW Passat, its exterior appearance was nothing short of magnificent. Now many of the early CCs are coming off lease, and are available on the secondhand market for what seems to be a great value. So now the question is, what lies under the CC’s pretty facade, and is it worth spending your money on?

I should disclose that I am considering getting myself a CC like this one, so this drive was as much for me personally, as it was for this article. I love having two sports cars, my Subaru STi and Mazda Miata, but lately I have wanted something a bit more comfortable for daily driving. It would be nice to have a car I could go places in, and not have a little devil on my shoulder, constantly telling me to break the law. That said, I don’t want some gutless econobox either, I want a proper luxury car.  Continue reading Test Driven: 2010 VW CC 2.0T (10/10)

On the topic of four cylinder Porsches

Porsche Cayman

There have been rumors for a while now that Porsche will be replacing the six cylinder engines in their lower-end models with turbocharged four cylinders. This would follow their recent downsizing move with the Panamera S models, where they replaced the 4.6L V8 with a twin turbo 3.0L V6. Porsche already has a history with four cylinder engines from their 912, 924, 944 and 968 models, so this move would be far from unprecedented. I myself have a lot of personal experience with the topic at hand. I learned to drive on a Porsche 944 S2, the 7 years I have owned my Subaru STi have given me a lot of insight into the performance merits of turbocharged engines, and I have also sampled many modern Porsches through my work for this website. So putting all of this together, I feel I can offer a very well rounded opinion on this issue. I also have some wonderful ideas for where it could take things in the future.

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Rejoice! Rejoice! The VW GTD is US bound!

Volkswagen GTD

For those of you unfamiliar with the GTD, it is quite literally a diesel version of the GTI. VW has recently been gauging potential demand for the car in the US, and has just announced, at the Geneva Motor Show, that the GTD will indeed make it to US shores.

You can see the tested specs in the video below, but in a nutshell the GTD will handle the same as a GTI, while trading a little straight line speed for around 30% better fuel economy. Going by EPA numbers for the GTI, that means MPG in the neighborhood of 31 city and 43 mpg highway, with an average around 37mpg… in theory at least. I don’t know about any of you, but I would definitely be willing to make that compromise, especially considering that the handling would still be phenomenal. The GTD isn’t exactly slow either, with 170hp and 258 ft/lbs of torque. It will lag a little from a GTI, but passing and merging will still be easy for it.

I do have a car purchase coming up in the next few months, and this GTD looks mighty appealing. Fun, economical, and supposedly pretty comfortable, what’s not to love? No word exactly on when it will hit showrooms, but I can say that I will probably wait until GTD pricing is announced before I make a decision. If VW is smart, they will price it to start around $22-23k in an effort to steal sales from Ford’s Fiesta ST, Chevy’s Sonic RS, and Hyundai’s Veloster Turbo. To anyone else who is starting to look around, it may be worth waiting out.

Motor Trend recently got their hands on a GTD, and they did well to show the car’s appeal.

Road Review: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid (9/10)

VW Jetta Hybrid

This is my mom’s new car, Volkswagen’s brand new Jetta Hybrid. Her Volvo was rear-ended and totaled back in December, so naturally the car search began. For some reason this car managed to fly under my radar until just recently. There hasn’t been much media coverage, and it debuted quietly at NAIAS last year. I had been triaging, and test driving a few different options when my dad asked me what I thought of the Jetta Hybrid. That got me looking, and when I saw the details, I was pretty blown away. I went and test drove one the next day, and my recommendation was set. This was the car, and you will soon see why.

Hybrids have really caught on as a way of saving gas here in America. For most hybrids, the focus is on fuel economy alone, all in an effort to woo people with the showroom window sticker. The undisputed leader of the hybrid movement has been Toyota, with cars that are as much a political statement as they are a form of transportation. We all know the Prius, some love it, some hate it, but it has set the standard for the hybrid segment. Other carmakers, like Ford, have hybrids too, but they are basically copies of the Toyota’s design formula. Because of this, people tend to know what to expect when they see a hybrid, but Volkswagen has taken a different approach.

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Test Driven: 1998 Volkswagen Golf GTI VR6….Slammed (9.5/10)

The Stance Movement has become quite a big thing in recent years. For those unfamiliar with the trend it is sort of like a neo-lowrider thing. People have been taking cars of all sorts and dropping them down as low as they can go, all in the name of “Stance”. Nowhere is this fad bigger than in the Volkswagen crowd, as can be seen at a host of water themed events that take place all over the country. My friend Justin spent months scouring the forums to find a slammed VW of his own, and he finally found the clean ’98 GTI you see here. He was nice enough to let me take it out recently so I could see what a slammed car is all about from the driver seat. What followed was a very interesting experience.   Continue reading Test Driven: 1998 Volkswagen Golf GTI VR6….Slammed (9.5/10)

Woodward Dream Cruise: VW Beetle Rat Rod

This incredible rat rodded Beetle was out for the Woodward Dream Cruise in Michigan. It is an entirely custom built car with the engine actually hanging off the back. I have seen many customized air-cooled Beetles over the years, but nothing quite like this car. One really cool feature is the car’s shift lever, which is actually a titanium hip replacement that has been repurposed for changing gears. I was assured the artificial hip was not a used part, but one of those usually costs around $14,000 when being used for medical purposes. Among the thousands of cool cars in the area during the Cruise, this Beetle was one of the ones that stood out the most to me. This is a very different kind of slammed car for the Volkswagen community. Enjoy the gallery.

Continue reading Woodward Dream Cruise: VW Beetle Rat Rod