2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
Test drivers call the 2012 SportWagen refined, sporty and a great daily commuter. They are most impressed with the optional TDI engine, which they say has the best combination of performance and fuel economy.
- "... a fine companion in day-to-day driving. It swallows bumps and provides a relatively quiet cabin from which to endure the daily grind." -- Edmunds
- "There was enough grunt to get around slow-moving trucks, and it was both easy and fast to downshift and get still more passing power. The clutch pedal was light and the shift intuitive." -- MarketWatch
Acceleration and Power
The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen has two engine options. One is an optional 2.0-liter TDI engine that runs on diesel fuel. It makes 140 horsepower and produces 236 pound-feet of torque. Test drivers prefer this engine because it has more torque and has better fuel economy than the standard 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. According to the EPA, the TDI engine gets 30/42 mpg city/highway when paired with a manual transmission, and 29/39 with the automatic.
In comparison, the 2.5-liter engine isn’t as powerful. It only produces 170 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, and its fuel economy ratings aren’t as high. Paired with a six-speed automatic transmission, the SportWagen gets 24/31 mpg city/highway. With a five-speed manual transmission, ratings are similar: 23/33 mpg city/highway.
Overall, reviewers say the standard engine and transmission options are well-suited for daily commutes, but they prefer the TDI engine because it’s more powerful and has higher fuel economy ratings. However, the TDI costs about $5,000 more.
- "With the automatic transmission, 5-cylinder SportWagens are sprightly from a stop, with decent passing power. Its manual shift gate works well, too. With the manual transmission, the TDI needs fairly high rpm to get decent response. It builds speed very quickly above 2,000 rpm, but the car can bog at lower engine speeds. The manual transmission has smooth shifter and clutch action." -- Consumer Guide
- "With the TDI models, expect a little more vibration, a tad more noise and less high-end kick when trying to charge up that highway on-ramp from a stop. However, the diesel's prodigious low-end torque makes it feel downright muscular around town, as it pulls away from traffic lights with authority." -- Edmunds
- "While a six-speed DSG automatic transmission is available, the test car was outfitted with a very nice 6-speed manual. That combo is EPA rated at 30-41 miles per gallon, and I have had owners tell me (always while smiling) that they clock 40 mpg on the interstates regularly." -- MarketWatch
Handling and Braking
When buying a station wagon, most shoppers don’t expect sporty handling, but according to most reviewers, the Jetta SportWagen manages to spice up day-to-day commutes. Test drivers report that steering is crisp and even a little sporty. Brakes are strong and accurate.
- "More than competent, even a bit sporty. These wagons have fine steering feel. Body lean in corners is noticeable, but they never feel unstable. Braking is strong and sure." -- Consumer Guide
- "The Jetta SportWagen may look like a station wagon, but it delivers the solid feel, crisp handling, and tactile steering of the celebrated GTI." -- Car and Driver
- "If you do decide to drive aggressively, the Jetta's steering is nicely weighted and accurate, though significant body roll puts a damper on the level of fun." -- Edmunds