VW Jetta TDI Sportwagen

The new Jetta is outfitted with a 2.0-liter 50-state legal turbocharged direct injection diesel (TDI) that produces 140 horsepower and an explosive 235 pound-feet of torque. Moreover, Volkswagen claims a big fuel economy boost that could deliver a sporty wagon with highway mpg in the mid-40s.

Volkswagen brought its clean diesel technology into the American limelight with the unveiling of its 2009 Jetta TDI SportWagen at the SEMA Convention (Specialty Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas. Though diesel has had the stigma of being loud, dirty, and unappealing in years past, it has more recently been touted in the United States as a cleaner, more cutting-edge fuel source.

Diesel burns with fewer emissions, offers better fuel economy, and grants terrific, torque-driven launch capabilities off the line—an attribute that any sports car or rally racer would want. The Europeans have been aware of these benefits for awhile, and initiatives like Mercedes Benz’s Bluetec technology are indicative of the change in mindset over diesel. SEMA is generally regarded by young car enthusiasts as a showcase for all things hip and cool in the automotive world, and makes the perfect venue to trumpet Volkswagen’s renewed diesel push into North America.

The new Jetta is outfitted with a 2.0-liter 50-state legal turbocharged direct injection diesel (TDI) that produces 140 horsepower and an explosive 235 pound-feet of torque. Though fuel economy ratings have not been released, Volkswagen is claiming the new engine will represent a significant improvement over the company’s former 1.9-liter diesel powerplant, which offered 31 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. But it’s the performance wagon’s “fast and furious” styling and hard-hitting power that’s sure to grab the attention of young people, which is clearly one of VW’s primary areas of focus. The car will go on sale in March of 2008.

VW will continue to showcase the performance virtues of its advanced diesel technology by launching a dedicated Jetta TDI Cup Series at various racetracks across North America in mid-2008. Sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America, there will up to eight racing venues and as many as 30 Jetta TDIs in competition. The formation of the new racing circuit marks an eco-conscious step for American motorsports—and will heat up the competition between diesels and hybrids in the race for the next generation of green car buyers.