Putting the Clean Into Clean Diesel

April 8th, 2011

By Matt Emery

Photography: Diesel World Staff

We’re fans of many things, some of which are big fun, big power, huge miles per gallon numbers … and VWs. I know what you’re thinking, but how can you not like the things? Way back when we had a number of VWs, from off-road competition-ready cars to what was then termed a “Cal” bug. Heck, we even had a VW van that we worked construction out of. All of them were fun, but this 2010 Jetta TDI is not only fun and comfortable to drive; it gets insanely good mpg numbers, too in the neighborhood of 50 mpg highway, right off the showroom floor.

There is a long and storied tradition of aftermarket companies building cool project vehicles for the annual SEMA show, and it was there that this vehicle caught our eye. The Jetta was built for the 2010 SEMA show by Snow Performance, of Woodland Park, Colorado, to feature its MPG-MAX water/methanol-injection system.

As it comes from Germany (they don’t outsource, do they?), the Jetta is equipped with a 2.0-liter, TDI clean-diesel engine that produces around 140 horses with 240 ft/lbs of torque. Snow Performance contends that its MPG-MAX water/methanol-injection system bumps that up by 35 to 40 horses and adds an increase of 5 to 15 % of miles per gallon. According to Matt Snow, owner of Snow Performance, the MPG-MAX system has a secondary output that is used to activate a power mode. This introduces an injection of the methanol/water mix, and a larger nozzle is used to inject the fluid to make more power. The Power Mode activation point is adjustable for best performance and allows for more injection when more power is needed or wanted.

The MPG-MAX system (PN 45005) has been coupled with the Snow Performance 2.5-gallon trunk-mounted reservoir to provide of fluid. This will provide long range and includes the necessary installation hardware. Also, the system has an LCD screen that displays boost level, exhaust gas temps and injection pump output. So, by adding the water and methanol, instead of just dumping more fuel in, the result is that the engine runs better by allowing the fuel to be more fully burned during the combustion process. Snow also said that the water actually turns to steam, which acts as to enhance compression and therefore combustion.

When talking of his Jetta, Snow said, “What makes it cool is that the fuel economy increases 14 mpg torque increase (+99 lb/ft) over stock with two mods. The ECUs on these cars are very sensitive, as the sensor comparators have very limited range to modifications and go into ‘limp home’ very easily. Many companies that make tuners haven’t been able to make a re-programmer that won’t put the car in limp mode.

“The car loves the Bully Dog rail pressure-enhancer combined with our water-methanol injection. They work well together.” The Bully Dog part Snow is referring to is the Rapid Power programmer, which, according to Bully Dog, adds 25 hp and 30 ft/lbs of torque on its own and can be installed in less than half an hour. We can see how the combination of the Snow Performance MPG-MAX and the Bully Dog Rapid Power programmer would get the most out of the TDI engine. The only other pieces needed would be to increase the flow of the intake and exhaust system to get the TDI working at peak performance and fuel mileage. Can you say, “50 mpg”––but with a big smile on your face, simply due to the fun factor of the Jetta?

Adding to that fun factor are the suspension upgrades and the wheel/tire combination that Snow added to the already sporty little Jetta. By adding progressively wound Eibach springs to the Jetta, Snow was able to lower the car 1 ½ inches while at the same time drastically increasing the handling response. Adding to that responsiveness are the low-profile (235/35-19) Nitto tires that wrap the racy 19×8-inch TSW Nurburgring wheels. Again, only a few more pieces, such as Brillstein or Kona shocks, larger anti-sway bars and some suspension tuning and balancing are all that is needed to take the Jetta as far as it can go handling-wise, which is pretty darned good.

Other than the Snow Performance LCD screen, the interior has remained stock, which is not a problem, because the stock interior of the Jetta is very nice.

Matt Snow says he and his engineers are hard at work on more R&D ideas for TDI-equipped cars, and that this Jetta, which has already won a Global Media award, will be his “test mule” for them. He says that everything, such as what he called the “Comp 1 system,” will be based on improving mpg and torque numbers. We, here at Diesel World, will certainly keep up with the progress Snow Performance makes––not only on these cars, but also the many that he has for other diesel-equipped vehicles. When we know, you will, too.

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