The new Volkswagen Jetta is much more than a Golf with a boot
The Volkswagen Jetta has stormed back to the pointy end of Australia’s medium car class thanks to new design, new standard features, improved fuel economy and sharper pricing.
Volkswagen Australia has simplified the Jetta range, which means there are fewer models to choose from.
The 147TSI Highline retains its position at the top of the Volkswagen Jetta tree. A $1000 price reduction means the Jetta range tops out at $37,990, coming in just beneath its big brother, the Passat, which starts at $38,990.
The 118TSI is powered by a 1.4-litre twincharged (turbocharged and supercharged) petrol engine with 118kW of power and 240Nm of torque. Combined cycle fuel consumption has dropped to 6.5 litres/100km for the six-speed manual model and 6.2 litres/100km for the seven-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic (down from 6.8 and 6.6 litres/100km respectively). The sprint from 0-100km/h is now dispatched two-tenths faster in 8.3 seconds.
The 1.4-litre has been around for a while now, but rather than showing its age, it simply exudes more refinement (although it must be said the engine has been linked to some poor reliability issues in the past). Teamed with either the manual or DSG, the 118TSI a hard unit to complain about. There’s enough power when you ask for it, and minimal lag when you stomp down on the accelerator.
My early impression is that the $32,490 118TSI Comfortline is the pick of the bunch, although if you’re on a budget and are happy driving a manual, the $26,490 118TSI manual represents pleasing refinement and top value.
The 103TDI doesn’t feel particularly zippy, but with more torque than any other Jetta, the extra pull from low down is certainly noticeable and appreciated around town. There’s no hint of diesel clatter once you pick up speed, and only a slight gruffness when you’re crawling.
The 147TSI is the model to go for if you’re after a bit more fun. It’s $5000 cheaper than the current Golf GTI with the DSG but has just 8kW less power. There’s plenty of turbo lag when you jump on the accelerator, but the reaction borders on brutal, especially when you consider the Jetta is a rather sedate-looking medium family sedan. It sounds positively sporty too, with a more perceptable note in general traffic and a high-pitched scream as the engine dances above 5000rpm and pins you to the back of your seat.
Like most Volkswagen products, there’s a stronger emphasis on a sporty ride than cushiony comfort, with the feel likely to appeal more to engaged drivers rather than A-to-B cruisers. That said, the Jetta is far from uncomfortable, and only gets a bit jittery around corners on rougher surfaces.
The brakes are quite sensitive and have a touchy feel when prodded. As you push down through the pedal range, however, the brake response evens out for a progressive, confidence-inspiring sensation.
The boot volume is down 17 litres from the previous model, although at 510 litres, the Jetta’s cargo capacity is still larger than that of a Commodore or Falcon. As before, a 16-inch steel wheel is standard in all Jettas – making it full-size in all but the 147TSI Highline, which rides on 17s. All models feature 60:40 split-fold rear seats for addition storage space, while the Comfortline and Highline models have the added convenience of a load-through portal in the middle rear armrest.
The basic audio system includes the usual CD player and auxiliary input, and Volkswagen has finally come to the party with standard USB connectivity and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming. The Bluetooth system is not the most intuitive to set up the first time, but once connected it works well and should make your life easier.
The range-topping Highline scores 17-inch alloys, front fog lights with cornering function, sports suspension (lowered by approximately 15mm), leather upholstery, heated front sports seats, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen audio system with a six-CD changer and an SD card slot.
The cabin has a premium look and feel to it. Some may find it lacks a bit of character, but most will appreciate the clean design and functionality. The dash is covered in soft-touch plastic and the buttons and dial all have a high quality feel.
With its sharp new price and larger dimensions, the Volkswagen Jetta is now better equipped to take on the most popular vehicles in the medium class, including the Toyota Camry, Ford Mondeo, Mazda6 and the Honda Accord Euro. If the Jetta sounds like a winner to you, the Skoda Octavia is also worth taking a look at, as it is available with the same powertrain options (and more) and an impressive standard features list. Overall, the Volkswagen Jetta is an impressive medium sedan that is great to drive, efficient, comfortable, well packaged and neatly presented. You won’t be disappointed if you park one in your driveway.