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Project Volkswagen Jetta TDI: Smoke Screen - Web Exclusive

Our VW Jetta TDI gets its first performance upgrades and new brakes to rein it in.

Up to this point, our 2009 Jetta TDI has received a set of 19x8" BBS CH wheels, 235/35-19 Continental CSC3 tires and KW V3 coilovers. The car sat right and handles well, but there were other issues to be addressed. For starters, the stock brakes are mushy. Press the pedal hard and it's like stepping in custard. While they probably work well enough, we definitely wanted to improve the pedal feel , so a set of EBC pads and rotors were enlisted.

We also wanted to start looking at power-adders. The Europeans have been tuning turbo-diesel since prehistoric times, so we thought it was time to get in on the act. A cat-back exhaust from Techtonics Tuning and a cold-air intake from Euro Sport Accessories would be our first mods.In the following article, we'll look at the fitting procedure and detail the dyno results. For complete step-by-step installation photos, though, please visit our website at where we have more space to show every stage in the process.

The task of installing and testing again fell to our friends Raffi and Vik Kasanjian at Euro Sport Accessories in Anaheim, CA. They recently worked on our Project B6 and offered to help with the TDI as well. It would give them the opportunity to prototype their intake for the car, so we were happy to help. In addition to manufacturing many of their own parts, Euro Sport has extensive expertise working on all kinds of VWs, with racing Mk1s and Mk2s littering their large workshop.

To begin the day, Vik strapped the Jetta to the dyno to record a baseline power number. Unfortunately, Euro Sport's dyno isn't able to read the RPM signal from diesel engines. Therefore, we couldn't plot torque output. So we'd stick to the power readings and record them against wheel speed rather than RPM. While not ideal, it's still relevant for comparison testing to measure increases.

On the first runs, with ambient temperature at 69F, the TDI recorded 130, 131 and 132whp. This was very consistent and surprisingly high for our 140hp engine. Accounting for transmission losses, our car actually delivers about 150hp, which is good to know.

Techtonics exhaust
Having waited several months for Techtonics to complete its new 2.5" stainless steel cat-back system, we would be the first to test it. Two versions are available with either single ($605) or twin ($680) tailpipes and both use a single Borla muffler.

Before starting, we noticed the car uses two catalytic converters and a complicated valve that resembles a throttle body. This is sophisticated emissions equipment that allows the TDI to comply with US regulations and we wouldn't be tampering with it. However, it was inevitable that this was where most of the exhaust's restrictions would lie.

You can follow the fitting steps in the captions. Once installed, we returned to the dyno to measure the power increase. The temperature had risen to 80F and our three runs produced 131, 132 and 132whp. Even allowing for temp corrections, we weren't looking at an increase anywhere in the rev range.

On a positive note, the exhaust wasn't noisy, so didn't amplify the tick-tick-tick of the diesel engine. Yet we did now have attractive chromed tailpipes protruding from the bumper, so we had a cosmetic improvement at least. And we're hoping that with more mods down the line, the exhaust will come good. Although we suspect that the emissions equipment is the real problem.

Euro Sport intake
Our hosts had been waiting to try their Cool-Flo Race air-intake on a TDI and this would be the opportunity. With a minor modification, they planned to use an existing Mk5/A3/CC 2.0TSI intake that comprises a metal intake tube (available in black/wrinkle or chrome/clear powdercoat), ITG cone filter and two silicone connectors. The only difference between our diesel and most gasoline models is an additional vacuum hose on the TDI, but a simple nozzle would accommodate that. So we went ahead with the installation you can read here or online.

With Euro Sport's CAI installed, we definitely have more induction noise, and a sporty turbo sound. But would it make a difference on the dyno? With the temp up to 83F, the three runs produced 132, 133 and 134whp. With the correction factors, this did mean we'd gained 2-3hp in the mid-range with our intake and exhaust. While it's a negligible, we are finally moving in the right direction. The next step will be some performance software to see if we can finally get this 2.0 four-cylinder turbo-diesel cooking. Stay tuned for the next update.

EBC brakes
As we mentioned, the stock brakes needed attention and an EBC pad and rotor change has worked for us in the past. The swap is very straightforward and you'll find an outline here and online.

After fitting, the standard-sized brakes do feel a little more positive, particularly from high speed. However, it doesn't appear to be quite as radical as we'd hoped (we're not having much luck at present, such is the modifying process) so we'll probably investigate new lines and fluid to see if that gives us a stiffer pedal.

Manufacturer Part Price
Techtonics Tuning cat-back exhaust$680
Euro Sport Accessories cold-air intake$179.95
EBC rotors and pads$527.90

Euro Sport Accessories (
Techtonics Tuning (

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