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Reader test: VW Jetta TDI

2010-08-17 06:36

Craig Hughes, Bloemfontein

Our 2002 Volkswagen Jetta 4 1.9 TDI Highline had only 60 km on the clock when we took delivery. We paid R194 000 at the time and have now just clicked over 200 000 km.


The 1.9 litre turbodiesel motor, with intercooler, pushes out 81 kW and 235 Nm. The five-speed transmission runs through the front wheels. Services are scheduled for every 15 000 km.  

We took leather seats and cruise control as optional extras. Over the years the tyres have been Continental Sport Contacts. They have good grip and are quite long-lasting.


Full torque comes in at low revs, so it is easy to get a chirp out of the tyres when pulling away. There is also no traction control. There is a bit of torque steer, but this is hardly noticeable when the car is travelling at speed. The car is quite neutral around corners, but one must ensure that the control arm bushes are in good shape.  

There is a bit of body roll around sharp bends when pushing on a bit, but it is predictable and I suspect the tyres will only let go if you overcook it.  


Turbo lag is noticeable at high altitude and when boost comes in, it is very obvious. In-gear acceleration is great, with acceleration from 80 km/h to 120 km/h being dispatched in no time at all. Fourth gear is a very good overtaking gear and even fifth gear offers some acceleration. Speed is easily maintained in the final gear when going up a hill at 120 km/h on cruise control.

The brakes also perform well and feature ABS and EBD. The front discs were replaced once and the pads twice. The back discs are still original, while the pads have been replaced once.


The car has had a few minor issues that were fixed under warranty. The glove box latch broke as well as the clip of the front armrest. The sensor in the coolant bottle gave in, so the whole bottle was replaced. The mounts for the driver’s door window broke, resulting in the pane falling down inside the door. This was also fixed under warranty.

Sadly the warranty had expired when the water pump stopped working in peak hour traffic one winter morning. I do not remember how much I was “overcharged” for replacing it.

The front arm rest clip broke again and a recent quote amounted to R1 500. Yeah right!

The first cambelt was replaced at 110 000 km. They have subsequently reduced the period to 80 000 or 90 000 km. I replaced the second cambelt and the first fanbelt at 190 000 km.

The battery was replaced with a Willard unit when the car was six years old.  

The rear left door lock failed, so the door could not be opened at all. I paid just over R3 600 to have a new lock fitted, which included about R1 100 to have the door opened by a panel beater.

Other than what I have mentioned, there have been no other problems.

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