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I just test drove a manual 2009 Jetta Sportswagen TDI and I was surprised at how "soft" the steering is. Earlier in the day I test drove the 2009 Subaru Outback XT and it seemed to have much more responsive steering. I was surprised by the Jetta's steering since I had read so many reports on how responsive the vehicle is. I'm wondering if it's a case of me just being used to "Japanese steering responsiveness" or something similar.

The steering on the Sportswagen was not "bad," just slow to turn the car. It felt like I was in a German luxury car rather than a small utility car. Has anyone else experienced this or am I just nuts?

It's also much more spartan than the Outback. If it weren't for the fuel economy I'd be heading towards the Outback. I find that my "green genes" are at war with my "comfort genes" ... :rolleyes:

Casey
 

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It's not a sports car but neither is the outback. For all you know the test car's tires were underinflated. But German cars do feel differently than Japanese cars. Jetta/Golf also use electronic steering so maybe that's what you were feeling.

EDIT: a shaft does connect the steering wheel, it's just electric steering. I typed wrong!
 

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If it's anything like the older cars they use bushings with lots of space in them. Swap in some solid rubber bushings from the Audi TT and the steering really improves!
 

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It's not a sports car but neither is the outback. For all you know the test car's tires were underinflated. But German cars do feel differently than Japanese cars. Jetta/Golf also use electronic steer by wire (no shaft connects the steering wheel to the steering rack) so maybe that's what you were feeling.
Wow. Things have definitely changed. It's really "fly by wire"? Whacky. Who'd a thunk it ...

So that plus the possibility of under-inflated tires is something good to investigate. This vehicle has been getting rave reviews on its handling, and while I like "fun steering" I'm by no means a "competition driver." So if I'm noticing something wrong, there must either be a misconfiguration or a deeper misunderstanding.

So I know how to check tire inflation levels. Are there any controls for the "fly by wire" steering which control its responsiveness?

Casey
 

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Wow. Things have definitely changed. It's really "fly by wire"? Whacky. Who'd a thunk it ...

So that plus the possibility of under-inflated tires is something good to investigate. This vehicle has been getting rave reviews on its handling, and while I like "fun steering" I'm by no means a "competition driver." So if I'm noticing something wrong, there must either be a misconfiguration or a deeper misunderstanding.

So I know how to check tire inflation levels. Are there any controls for the "fly by wire" steering which control its responsiveness?

Casey
Sorry, I was confused and typed wrong - some crossed wires in my brain! A shaft does connect the steering wheel but it's electric steering. In other words, the steering wheel sensor tells the electric steering rack how much to assist the steering instead of moving pressurized steering fluid around a rack. You can adjust the amount of electric steering but you need a ross tech VCDS cable to access the steering wheel module. This is similar to the dealer's CAN BUS computer tool. The dealer may also be able to adjust it.
 

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Lol, drunk posting? Yes, there is no PS fluid or pump since this saves energy. This way, the steering rack only uses electricity when you need it. Mercedes also used total brake by wire but it had some failures so they stopped using it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Okay, no "fly-by-wire" steering. That makes more sense. I kept imagining driving at highway speeds and experiencing an electrical failure ... :ugh

I'm going to give the dealer a call and ask them to check the tire pressure on the Sportswagen I drove. Either the tires are low as someone else mentioned or something else was wrong. My experience just didn't match that of all the road test reports I've read.

I think that I'm still inclined to wait till the 2010 models are available in order to take advantage of the "recontenting" of the models. Aside from the weird experience with the steering responsiveness it was pretty depressing to go from the Subaru Outback XT to the Sportswagen in terms of appointments. Granted, there's a $5-7K difference in cost but I do like a bit of niceties with my performance ... :) The other possibility is to go for the Audi A3 TDI wagon when it comes out (apparently in the first quarter of 2010).

One quick tangent: the Sportswagen is assembled in the Mexico factory ... has reliability for that factory improved in the last couple of years?

Casey
 

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Did the JSW have 16" or 17" rims?

The 16" with a higher side wall will absorb more action from the road. The 17" will be more "active" with the road.

Low front tires, in my experience, would dictate pulling left/right, poor braking/acceleration, and stiffer steering - but with the Jetta's servo steering, I don't think that would translate into the wheel feedback.

One more thing - the Jettas have TPMS - so if the tires were low - there would be a warning.

The JSW also has more weight on the rear because of the body.

If you want heavy steering, try a JSW with 17" wheels - they are also slightly wider - more surface contact.
 

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I'm going to give the dealer a call and ask them to check the tire pressure on the Sportswagen I drove. Either the tires are low as someone else mentioned or something else was wrong. My experience just didn't match that of all the road test reports I've read.

Casey
Doesn't the JSW have the tire inflation sensors that've been in Jettas since at least '07? If so, had the tires been underinflated, you'd have seen a warning light on the dashboard.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Did the JSW have 16" or 17" rims?

The 16" with a higher side wall will absorb more action from the road. The 17" will be more "active" with the road.
I didn't notice what the rim size was but I'm used to my old Subaru which had 70 profile tires. It's hard to get much more flexible than that ... :) From looking at the "installed options" tab on the dealer's web site for the vehicle here I'm pretty sure that the car had the standard 16" wheels.

Casey
 
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