If you’re in the market for a Jetta TDI sedan and like to drive, this is your car. The firmer GLI suspension, larger brakes, and upgraded antiroll bars go a long way towards making the Jetta sedan exciting to drive. Of course those upgrades do nothing to address the modest horsepower of a TDI engine, but we’re especially sensitive to the TDI’s horsepower output because we’ve been driving the superb VW GTI for a few months. Anyone considering a TDI vehicle understands the lack of hp is more than made up for by the car’s incredible 41 mpg highway rating and insanely long cruising range.
I wish this suspension package were offered on the Jetta TDI Sportwagen. The more versatile wagon body style is appealing to me, but VW won’t offer any factory upgrades to the rather soft suspension on that car. There are a few aftermarket solutions available to Sportwagen owners seeking more a performance-oriented suspension, but not everyone wants to deal with the hassle of buying and installing aftermarket parts on a new car. The projected take-rate for a TDI Sportwagen Cup Edition was probably deemed too small to justify the investment, though.
– Phil Floraday
The Volkswagen Jetta TDI is a very good car in base trim, so I was surprised at just how much better the TDI Cup Edition is. The buttoned-down suspension transforms this Jetta from a staid commuter to an engaging companion. Even better, the improved handling comes at virtually no cost to the ride quality. This is still a very comfortable for daily driving. It makes me think that the GLI suspension should be standard on the Jetta TDI, just like the Golf TDI gets the GTI suspension as standard equipment. In fact, the TDI Cup Edition seems to be the perfect response to the few complaints we had about our Four Seasons Jetta TDI.
The other significant change is plaid, bolstered seats that are much more cosseting than the flat, leatherette chairs in our 2009 Jetta TDI Loyal Edition. The gaping grille of the optional Cup body kit is bit jarring, so that’s $2350 I’d rather put in my pocket. It’s also a shame that the Cup graphics on above the rocker panels come standard on the car. However, the $2160 premium over a base TDI is money well spent, as the suspension creates a wholesale change in how the Jetta drives.
– Eric Tingwall
Like Eric and Phil, I was pleasantly surprised by the Jetta TDI Cup Edition’s sportier-yet-just-as-comfortable chassis. I’m not big on the body kit’s styling tweaks, though, which are a bit too tuner-y for me, but thankfully and as Eric pointed out many of them are optional. My ideal Jetta TDI would feature this car’s sport suspension, plaid seats and aluminum pedals, and eighteen-inch “Charleston” wheels but forgo the side graphics and the aero modifications, except for the trunk-lid spoiler.
I did find this TDI easier to stall than our Four Seasons Jetta TDI, let alone the Golf TDI we recently tested. I ended up turning off traction control immediately after starting the Jetta, just so I could get a hair of wheel spin to get rolling. Once the turbo spools up, though, the turbo-diesel engine offers plenty of power — you just have to know how to make the most of its atypical powerband, especially with the manual gearbox. That gearbox has lovely action that makes it easy to shift very quickly. Despite my frequent foot-to-the-floor acceleration in addition to all-windows-down or air-conditioned cruising, I managed to achieve an indicated 45 mpg over 250 mixed miles this weekend. I could definitely live with that!
– Rusty Blackwell
Decals aside, the differences between the standard Jetta TDI and this Cup Sport edition aren’t all that dramatic — and that’s a good thing. After four seasons with a TDI, we all thought it was comfortable, wonderfully efficient, and even rather entertaining to drive. The Cup Sport edition amps up the fun-to-drive quotient just a bit without detracting from all those other benefits. Even with the firmer damping and larger, low-profile tires, it does a great job absorbing road imperfections. The reduction in sidewalls has also improved the precision of the steering, which was quite good to begin with. As others have noted, the manual transmission can take some getting used to, and, yes, I stalled it. Once you’re going however, the smooth, precise gearbox and light clutch encourage just the sort of frequent shifting one needs to keep the diesel within its narrow sweet spot.
– David Zenlea
I love both the Jetta TDI and the GTI, so shouldn’t I love the Jetta Street Cup, a car that combines the thrift of the diesel and the suspension tuning of the hot hatch? On paper, the equation suggested so, but in reality, I wasn’t completely blown away by the package.
The GTI’s suspension, without a doubt, allows this Jetta to be dynamically near perfect-but the extra capability, to say nothing of the wild exterior, leave me hankering for GTI-like power to enjoy it with. The TDI has only 140 hp to its name, and worse, it’s reluctant to rev, making heel-toe downshifts in slow corners a little difficult.
This is an interesting concoction, but I’m not entirely sure I see the point. Those desiring a fuel-sipping VW already have the TDI, and customers wanting a barnstorming compact can spring for either the GLI or GTI. Perhaps, then, it’s not surprising that production volumes of the TDI Street Cup are limited.
– Evan McCausland
Racing any diesel — whether it’s a family sedan or a semi-tractor — strikes me as the height of silliness. This tiny turbo-diesel engine doesn’t rev up and the usual mountain of torque doesn’t fully compensate for the stunted power curve. That’s not to say this Jetta TDI is without virtue. Its ability to haul five comfortably while delivering mid-30s mpg qualifies it as the family sedan of the future. Towards that end, I’d recommend the TDI engine mated to an automatic transmission. That solves the frequent stumble and flame out when the clutch is abruptly engaged after a stop sign, plus the slushbox adds one mpg to the highway mpg rating.
– Don Sherman
2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Cup Edition
Base price (with destination): $25,740
Price as tested: $30,013
2.0-liter turbocharged diesel 4-cylinder engine
6-speed manual transmission
Electro-mechanical power steering
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS
Electronic stability program
Electronic differential lock
18-inch alloy wheels
Power and heatable outside mirrors
Leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel
In-dash 6 CD changer with MP3 capability
Auxiliary input jack
Sirius satellite radio
Jetta TDI Cup Edition side decal
Options on this vehicle:
Jetta TDI Cup Edition body kit — $2350
Power sunroof — $1000
Jetta wing spoiler — $499
Jetta mat kit — $225
iPod interface — $199
Fuel economy: 30/41/34 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 2.0L turbocharged diesel 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 140 hp @ 4000 rpm
Torque: 236 lb-ft @ 1750-2500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Curb weight: 3285 lb
Wheels/tires: 18-inch alloy wheels