VW's Jetta TDI is an easy cruiser

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IOL mot dec17 Jetta a


103kW 2-litre turbodiesel is ideally suited to long distance cruising.


Our long-term test Jetta is racking up the kilometres and proving, time and time again, that it is the ideal companion for a long trip.

With its 2.0 turbodiesel power plant, I expected it to be slightly thirstier than the 1.6 TDi version I took to Knysna at the end of 2011 and returned with an average fuel consumption of 4.9 litres to 100km over a little more than 4 000km.

I had never seen anything like that in a car and I waxed lyrical about it – challenging any other carmaker to return better figures under the same circumstances.

The small-engined Jetta seemed to have plenty of torque for the downhill run to the coast, carrying four adults and packed to the brim with luggage.

Its overall figure of 5.0 litres to 100km for the down leg was great and to be honest I didn’t think I could better that with any other car.

IOL mot dec17 Jetta b

There is plenty of space in the back and in the boot, so this car was born to do the holiday run.

However, the 2.0 TDi made me wonder.

On a recent trip to Durban, it arrived in Kloof (where I met somebody for lunch) registering just 4.2 litres to 100km for the 500km-plus journey. The fuel tank level stood almost exactly at half.

On the way down, sticking to the posted speed limits, I found it interesting to play the “total range” game on the trip computer (yes, I know I am sad). That’s were you add the distance travelled to the range left.

At one stage, it was well over 1300km and I reckon that, travelling carefully, one might just be able to get from Joburg to Knysna on a single tank (something I didn’t try with the 1.6 version).

Even when filling up for the return journey from Durban, and after a lot of urban travelling, the trip computer was still showing 4.3 litres to 100km.

And, sad person that I am again, I filled the tank to check the accuracy of the computer (sometimes they do lie) – and it was spot on.

IOL mot dec17 Jetta c

Interior design is conservative but classy.

On the long haul uphill from the coast, the consumption was higher – and I had the air conditioner on most of the way because of the high outside temperatures. Also, I got stuck in the glutinous traffic in and around Pietermaritzburg, where there are hundreds of trucks clogging the system.

The return journey showed an average of 5.2 litres to 100km, making an overall ratio of 4.7 litres to 100km. I won’t claim this is our best because I was the only occupant of the car and there was very little in the way of luggage.


But that is an impressive figure nevertheless. In an average 2.0 litre petrol car, one might have used about 3 litres to 100km or more. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you add it up over 1200km to Durbs and back, that’s close to R500.

Sitting for six hours in the car was no hardship and I was particularly thankful to have VW’s air con at my disposal (they make some of the best in the business) when the temperature hit 41ºC near Estcourt. At the time, the fan control was on setting 2 out of 5.

There is plenty of space in the back and in the boot, so this car was born to do the coastal end-of-year marathon.

With plenty of urge from the 103kW motor, the Jetta is ideally suited to long cruising.

Perhaps an occasional gear down (but not that often) and then a stab on the accelerator to pass the slower traffic.

There have been two little niggles, which I expect will be sorted out at the car’s 15 000km service, which should be within the next month. First, it is fitted with a tyre pressure monitoring system which, disconcertingly, blinks on when you have been travelling for about two hours, inducing panic about tyres going flat. However, an inspection shows everything to be normal. So I found myself disabling the system on both occasions it happened.

Second, the handbrake takes only very high up on the stroke... meaning that twice the car has rolled away (fortunately without hitting anything – thanks, car guards at Olivia’s in Northcliff).

I have also had a look at the long-term Jetta which is in the care of Star Motoring. That is a 1.4 petrol-engined version.

It is very similarly specced to our car, but I much prefer the cloth and semi-leather seats in our car.

They’re not as slippery and sticky and they don’t set you alight when you get into a car that has been standing in the sun.

What a pity that more cars (even at the exalted executive level) are not offered with cloth seats as an option...


Engine: Four-cylinder, in-line, turbodiesel, 103kW/320Nm.

Fuel requirement: VW says use low sulphur (50ppm) diesel. In recent weeks, we have been using Sasol’s new, even cleaner, 10ppm Ultra Low Sulphur diesel. This, they say, will help the engine run cleaner and more economically and will especially benefit those cars with diesel particulate filters (most current Euro-spec cars) because these filters will not clog up so much. We will report back on our experience early next year.

Fuel consumption: Amazing and a real answer to the hybrid and electric brigade who say those technologies will save the planet. This car uses as much fuel as a motorbike. We regularly get less than 8 litres to 100km in the city and less than 5 litres to 100km on the open road.

CO2: 126g/km – just over the government threshold of 120g/km for tax purposes, so you won’t be paying that much extra to the Treasury.

-Saturday Star

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