Questioning the 2011 VW Jetta TDI’s seats and gearbox

Posted By on January 8, 2012

vw6speedIn Autoblog’s 2011 VW Jetta TDI longterm update there were a couple less than flattering comments about the VW’s comfort and the manual gearbox. Besides disliking the firm Volkswagen seats, the follow up was that the 2011 TDI had a "much-disliked" and "tricky" gearbox.  Having driven a variety of manual transmission cars and owning two A4 TDIs with 5-speeds, I’m puzzled of the disappointment in the new 6-speed manual. Any thoughts from owners or those who may have test driven 2011 or 2012 manual transmission TDIs?

… the interior seems to be more broken-in, though it isn’t showing any noticeable signs of wear. That said, it still isn’t a very pleasant place to be. I didn’t love it on my cross-country journey a few months ago, and while it’s more comfortable now that more butts have been in the driver’s seat, there simply isn’t anything to rave about.

Fuel economy, however, is as great as ever – I commonly see numbers over 40 mpg. The car’s much-disliked gearbox is still tricky, and we broke a sweat trying not to stall while starting out on some of those steep San Francisco hills (especially when cars were behind us). But with some serious concentration, we managed with minimal problems.



  • I read this same report and wondered about the reports with being comfortable in the seat and the gearbox as well.  In 2 years I will be looking for another TDI and starting to wonder if I need to be looking for an older model

    • Although you do remember that I sold my “leather seat”older A4 Jetta TDI due to the seating and long drive problem? I’m kind of sensitive to any hint that the seat problem could still be hanging over VW.

      • I remember why you sold your old TDI 🙁
        Maybe pick up a set of recaros or something similar would fix the problem?

        • If I were on the younger side, I would have looked into putting new seats in the TDI after trying every kind of additive cushion … including taxi driver beads. Since the resale was strong at the time, and we needed to replace our minivan due to a family member who needed a reliable family car, I opted to buy the Honda Pilot. It’s been a good vehicle, but it is not a TDI. 😉

  • My understanding is that a lot of the problem with the gearbox isn’t the gearbox at all – it’s the emissions tuning, that has an 850 RPM idle and an 800 RPM engine cutoff. So, unlike the ALH, which will fight all the way down to 300 RPM or so, this engine gives up REALLY easily, and will stall.

    • I appreciate the insight on the low RPM problem with the newer TDI vs the old ALH models. I’ve always bragged that the way to learn to drive a stick shift was in a torquey TDI diesel … now I’ll have to say in a “torquey ALH TDI diesel.”

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.