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articel about the 2009 jetta prototype

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — Want to really flummox an executive from a German car company? Tell him that you hate diesels. Coming from the homeland of the oil burner, he is unlikely to understand the trauma inflicted on Americans by soot-spewing, clattering and fragile passenger-car diesels from Oldsmobile in the 1980s.

Now, Volkswagen of America is on a mission to change the perception of diesel buyers from those who frequent stinky truck stops and dealership service bays to drivers who are sensible and environmentally conscious.

The company has prepared a traveling road show called the Dieselution Tour. Into a couple of tractor-trailers, VW has packed interactive exhibits extolling the virtues of diesels. One such exhibit is a calculator that figures how much fuel you would save and how much carbon dioxide you would not emit if you drove a VW diesel on a given road trip compared to a gasoline-powered car. For example, on the 1,802-mile trip from San Francisco to Vail, Colorado, one would save about $80.14 in fuel and about 348 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Also on display are a Touareg TDI, a 1977 Rabbit diesel (the oldest VW diesel in the U.S., apparently) and the 2009 Jetta TDI. The tour will make stops at various universities, environmental events, and also the Super Bowl.

We grabbed the 2009 Jetta TDI prototype for a quick spin near the company's headquarters. When they go on sale next spring, the Jetta TDI sedan and sport wagon will be the first diesels to be sold as 50-state emissions-legal and will account for 30 percent of Jetta sales.

The car we drove had a dual-clutch DSG automated manual bolted to the 140-horsepower 2.0-liter clean diesel. With 235 pound-feet of torque, the Jetta pulled strongly away from stoplights and its low-down torque peak made it the ideal car in which to squirt around town. Standing beside the idling car, there is a hint of diesel-engine clatter, but from inside the cabin it is exceptionally quiet. And its exhaust does not stink as everyone seems to expect it to.

The Jetta TDI will cost about $2,000 more than the standard Jetta, which starts at about $18,000. Volkswagen estimates the TDI will post city fuel economy "in the 40s" and highway economy "in the 50s." A 50-state legal Touareg is on its way soon.

What this means to you: You will like diesel whether you like it or not, if VW has anything to say about it.
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