Volkswagen Jetta TSI : First Drive
Superfluously, their timing couldn’t have been worse. We’ve just seen what is probably the steepest rise in petrol prices ever and this more exciting of fossil fuels isn’t really garnering public support much. General opinion has swung towards buying diesel powered cars and to come out with a petrol version of the Jetta now may seem a tad foolish on Volkswagen’s part. Considering all that you’d probably ask yourself what on Earth they were thinking! 1.4 TSI – that’s what!
When we first heard of the TSI engine a few years back we were superlatively excited, so much so that we thought Volkswagen would get it in the Polo in its 1.2 litre capacity. Well, that never happened but the TSI badge has now made it to the Jetta after making the car a smash hit with the TDI emblem. It seems a little odd though at first glance that a car of its segment has to make do with a 1390cc engine, but then you’ve got to know what the TSI badge stands for to really appreciate the beauty of the arrangement. Technically it means Turbocharged Stratified Injection, but the way any petrolhead would like to interpret that is ‘Turbocharged and Supercharged Insanity’!
Exciting as it is, Volkswagen is pulling us back down to firm ground with the 1.4 TSI though because this engine making it to India seems to have shed its supercharger on the way from Germany. So the new mill in the Jetta is making about 120 horses peaking at 5000rpm – which isn’t quite on par with the competition. But thanks to that turbocharger the Jetta TSI puts down 200Nm or torque that stays at its maximum potential between 1500 and 4000rpm and considering that this is the bit that really matters when you’re driving casually to work as opposed to burning rubber at three-digit speeds, the Jetta seems pretty able on paper at least.
Translate that into the real world and the Jetta is actually quite driveable, pulling that big 1403kg body (all fuelled up) with relative ease. It will even power the car up to 120km/h without bursting a sweat but beyond that the engine does start to let you know that it is being stressed just a tad. The car does seem to die out a bit at lower revs though and you have to give it more gas to get it moving especially when you’ve had to slow down for whatever reason and then are looking to get back up the speedometer – which is where that supercharger would have been very handy on this low-capacity engine. So as far as performance goes, Volkswagen seems to have cut it fine despite the 1.4 litre capacity thanks to being turbocharged. In fact the presence of that little turbine does have another advantage – fuel efficiency.