We drive them all | There are few companies that have this sheer amount of heritage right across the lineup.
MIDDLEBURG, VA – Volkswagen has always been a brand that takes pride in development and engineering, no matter how major or minor. As such, I was invited to Middleburg, VA to check out their full line for model year 2015. There are minor tweaks and packaging changes across the lineup, but the one major change and the highlight of this trip was the opportunity to drive the refreshed 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI.
The Jetta comes with three powertrain options – a 2.0L 4-cylinder, the 1.8L TSI, and my personal favourite, the 2.0L TDI. The base 2.0L is the all-too-familiar unit that dates back over two decades, but it’s a tried and tested motor that’s essentially bulletproof. The 1.8L TSI is a turbocharged inline 4-cylinder that was all-new for model year 2014, and we drove it last winter – Louis’ road test can be found at this link. If it were my money I was putting down on a Jetta though, it would be the 2.0L TDI.
I think hybrids have great technology and all, but it doesn’t get much better than a diesel when it comes to overall fuel efficiency and daily livability, I adore diesels. Plus, Volkswagen has been doing it for so long, their stuff is insanely bulletproof. A friend of mine actually owns a Golf TDI from nearly a decade ago that’s done over 500,000 bulletproof miles. That’s right, we’re talking miles, not kilometers. The new 2.0L TDI puts out 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. It’s a small turbocharger, and there’s nearly no turbo lag. I wasn’t able to drive it long enough to get an accurate fuel economy figure, but we’ll be doing a full week-long test with the car this fall.
The Jetta TDI I drove was a US-spec SEL, which isn’t too far off from the Canadian Highline. It’s the top trim model, and the new Jetta now comes with a few new features that it was previously not offered with. Things like Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning, xenon headlamps and LED daytime-running lights are now available on higher trim models. The grille, wheels, and lights are tweaked for a fresher look, and the interior is greatly improved. The more premium-feeling steering wheel similar to the one in the new GTI has trickled down into the Jetta line, and the new interior looks great. The gauge cluster has been given a facelift as well.
On this drive, I was also able to experience a car that is kryptonite to Canadian auto writers. Typically, manufacturer media fleets are only equipped with top-trim models that allow us to experience the maximum amount of features a car can be loaded up with. I was thrown the keys to a 2015 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo with the 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, the flagship engine in the Beetle line. This motor was coupled to the 6-speed manual transmission, and a lack of options. There was no sunroof, no leather seats, no navigation system, and I absolutely loved it.
This was as pure as a Beetle can be; a proper gearhead’s car. I drove it down the twisty and winding US-50 and enjoyed every second of it. Rowing through the gears while listening to the radio and tuning stations on the small, monochromatic display is incredibly satisfying in a world of fussy colour touchscreens and a plethora of driver aids. I adored this car regardless of how brief my time with it was, and would jump at any opportunity to drive one again.
I also drove the new 2015 Golf TDI, which we will also be testing this fall, but another interesting vehicle on this trip was the 2015 Volkswagen Eos. Volkswagen has already announced that 2015 will be the final production year for the Eos, making the Beetle Convertible the only open-top vehicle in the lineup. I drove the final edition of the Eos, and it really is a shame to see it go. It’s a sharp-looking vehicle with a ton of potential – the aftermarket for the 2.0L turbocharged-four is almost unlimited.
Overall, MY2015 is going to be a big one for Volkswagen. After driving almost everything they have to offer, it’s no surprise that sales are where they are right now. I was lucky enough to be on this trip with a colleague from another publication, who is also a huge car nut like myself. Every second we weren’t evaluating or discussing the car(s) we were in, we were talking about the history of VW and iconic products over the years. There are few companies that have the sheer amount of heritage right across the product line as Volkswagen does, and their products are only getting better.
First Drive: 2015 Volkswagen Full Line Gallery