The Jetta – which is essentially a mid-size sedan that sits separately to the Golf hatchback with higher pricing and varied equipment levels – has floundered this year, with sales dipping 35 per cent to the end of July.
But Volkswagen Australia managing director, John White, told CarAdvice that there are plans to give the unloved sedan model some attention, with a facelifted version – as debuted at the 2014 New York auto show – confirmed for Australia.
“Jetta is gong to have some enhancements to it as part of refresh of the vehicle, as you may have seen,” he said. “Those enhancements are going to come to the Australian market.”
The changes seen to the car revealed in New York include revised front and rear styling, while the interior changes include a new steering wheel design, colour multifunction display, new trim highlights, and new fabrics for the seats.
Under the bonnet, the Jetta is expected to adopt a new 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine from the Golf range (with 103kW/250Nm), and the option of a revised 2.0-litre turbo diesel (with 110kW/320Nm). These engine changes are not yet confirmed.
“We’re taking a look at the way we’re going to be configuring the car line, and you can count on the car line to have more features and benefits than it has as we look to maximise the opportunities in the Jetta and make it a much better volume competitor.
White said he believes the car’s sales aren’t representative of the quality of the vehicle.
“I think Jetta has a significant role to play in the market. There’s no reason that it can’t. And that’s all under our control,” he said.
The current Jetta is priced from $24,990 for the base manual version through to $35,790 for the top-end diesel auto - those are the manufacturer's list prices, but VW has been running a long campaign with driveaway pricing for the Jetta starting at $22,990. Those list prices place it above the Golf hatch, which kicks off at $21,490 and tops out at $34,790.
When asked if he would consider matching the Jetta and Golf on price in the same way that Hyundai does with its Elantra and i30, Kia does with its Cerato hatch and sedan, and Mazda does with its high-selling 3 models, White didn’t put a line through the notion.
“It’s interesting. In this market, Jetta is at a premium to Golf. In North America, Golf is at a premium to Jetta,” he said.
The revised version is expected to be on sale in Australia in the first half of 2015 (UPDATED).