When the new Volkswagen Jetta was driven out to me I stared at it dead on for a moment, soon before shuffling through my diary to confirm which vehicle I was booked in for. From front on the new Jetta looks the exact same as a chromed up Golf, it wasn’t until I stepped to the side to look at the side profile that I noticed the difference. The new Jetta is basically a sedan version of the Golf. I can already hear all you critics muttering under your breath at the lack lustre effort exhibited by Volkswagen. Well stop muttering, the fact of the matter is that the Golf is a proven car, now you have the option of the Golf styling, along with a huge boot; what else more could you want?
The new Jetta fits in between the Golf and the Passat in the grand scheme of things at Volkswagen Australia. It’s the subtle styling highlights that make the Jetta such an attractive looking car. The front has chrome-esque highlights and the side profile also includes chrome-esque strips around the window sill. The rear end features an LED-clad lighting arrangement with a big VW symbol signifying its presence.
I was driving the TDI version of the Jetta for the week. This 2ltr turbo-Diesel makes 103kW of power at 4000RPM and packs a mighty 320Nm of Diesel powered torque from 1750-2500RPM. The turbo is ready for action from around 1800RPM and the surge of torque heaves all the way to around 3800RPM where it begins to start running out of puff; more than typical for a Diesel engine.
The interior arrangement is pleasant to begin with; it’s not long before you start getting very bored with it. The entire dashboard arrangement is monochrome and lifeless; it’s not long before you need a coffee to wake you up from it. It only really looks good at night time when the fascia lights up neon-blue. But, putting the aesthetic qualities aside; the layout is very simple and easy to use, making operation of the stereo and ventilation controls extremely simple.
One of the first things you notice when you enter the car is the odd looking accelerator pedal. It’s reminiscent of an accelerator pedal from a bus, it’s long, flat and bolstered from the floor. To begin with it’s a little bit awkward to master, but as with all things, practice makes perfect! The TDI Jetta comes standard with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Kudos to Volkswagen for such a fantastic ‘box, it’s incredibly smooth to shift with and the ratios are near-perfect.
Although the Jetta is built in Mexico, the build quality was very admirable. It was interesting to note that some of the items used in the Jetta felt much more solid and sturdy than those of the Polo; such as the indicator and windscreen wiper stalks.
Interior room is very good, front seat passengers enjoy masses of leg room and decent head room. Rear passengers are somewhat restricted when it comes to leg room, but this much can be expected from a car based on the Golf. Opening the boot is like entering the master-bedroom of a big house. The size of the boot looks physically impossible when you look at the profile from side-on; making it another feature that makes the Jetta so much more appealing than the Golf.
The engine is surprisingly efficient and powerful. On paper it doesn’t look all that good; but, matched with a great gearbox and rather modest kerb weight it really moves with a bit of pace when really needed. We managed an astonishing fuel efficiency of around 7L/100KM, I can now see why Diesel-vehicle sales are going through the roof. Just the other day my local service station was selling Diesel for 3c/L cheaper than Petrol! A dash from zero-to-one-hundred takes just over 9-seconds, not bad for a smoke blowing truck engine.
The brakes offer a firm feel but started to fade considerably after around five stops from one-hundred to zero. Most vehicles we test can handle at least six or seven stops before they throw in the towel and offer a glowing smoke show.
Starting from $35,490, the Jetta TDI comes standard with: Dual zone climate control, great sounding stereo with single disc in-dash CD plater, cruise control, ESP (Electronic Stability Program), ABS brakes, electric windows, heated door mirrors, reverse parking sensors, and automatic dimming rear-vision mirror. Not a bad kit for just over 35-grand.
Although the stereo sounded great, it would start skipping if the CD had the slightest imperfection; making some of my favourite CDs obsolete until further notice!
Sure, it’s not the most exciting car in the world but it really doesn’t offer all that much worth complaining about. The fuel economy is fantastic, the outside looks quite attractive and the interior can be jazzed up with a few optional features.
At only $35,490 it puts a lot of other vehicles to shame. If a Diesel isn’t your thing, there is the Turbo FSI version available also. It uses the same gob-smacker of an engine fitted to the Golf GTI and retails for $39,990.
If you’re in the market for a new car and don’t mind compromising on a bit of rear leg room – or a bit of power under the bonnet – the Jetta might be the car that takes your interest.
Throughout the week of testing it really didn’t exhibit any flaws that were worth mentioning. It’s an overall pleaser and well worth the price you pay for it.
CarAdvice rating (out of 5):
- by Paul Maric