Once no more than a booted Golf, motoring writer Keith Ward reports on the new VW Jetta, which is now nearly as big as the Passat in the next class up.
TIME was when the Jetta was simply a booted, saloon or notchback version of the big-selling Golf hatchback. Not so with the upcoming sixth generation Jetta, insist VW.
“It is a complete re-work”, said Wolfsburg-based project manager Frank Donath at the recent international launch. “Every visible internal and external panel is new.”
The clean looks should offend no-one. Seeing it on the road, some will find it difficult to distinguish from the new Passat, a class above.
In fact, at 4.64 metres, nine centimetres longer than the current model, the Jetta is closer to a Passat (4.77 metres) than a Golf (4.20 metres). That shows up significantly in the generous rear legroom, stretched by 67mm, in a generally comfortable cabin, tastefully furnished in restrained VW fashion. So more car for your money.
You may not have seen many Jettas on the road recently. But in its 31-year lifetime, more than 10-million Jettas have sold around the world, notably in North America. In the UK, the Golf has recently been outselling it 30 to one, albeit with the current Jetta winding down .
The new Jetta, being built by VW in Mexico alongside the Golf Estate, is aimed to improve that ratio, although private motorists will surely continue their preference for the practicality of hatchbacks; business users for a separate boot to secure their wares.
The Jetta’s peak sale here was 11,282, recorded 10 years ago when it was temporarily re-named as the Bora, after a radical re-design. But there was reportedly no move towards a name change this time.
The luggage capacity of around 500 litres in the Jetta can be extended length-wise only by tugging a couple of straps inside the boot opening to drop the rear seats, but of course you can’t stack it throughout to the roof as with a hatchback.
Initially, two petrol and a pair of diesel engines will be permed with three levels of trim in the UK, in a range priced keenly from around £17,000. Base trim includes climate control, The best-seller, forecast to attract around 28 per cent of Jetta customers here, is expected to be a base-trim 105PS, 1.6 TDI diesel at £18,500, with VW’s Blue Motion eco-technology restricting CO2 emissions to a tax-saving 109 g/km (manual gearbox) and raising the official combined mpg figure to 67.
Our preview driving in France in different left-hand-drive versions of this model, over an admittedly thirsty mixture of town and twisting mountain roads, produced an onboard computer reading of between 41 and 49 mpg. The Jetta drives quietly and confidently. Slim screen pillars allow good visibility.
With the Golf and Polo in the top 10 sellers in the UK last year, VW sales were up by 8.39 per cent, well ahead of a meagre 1.80 per cent rise in the overall market. The new Passat and Jetta can only make things better for VW in 2011.
THE VITAL STATISTICS:
Model: New Jetta built by VW in Mexico alongside the Golf Estate
Type: Four-door, five-seat booted saloon; three trim levels S, SE, Sport
Size: Length 4,644 mm; boot 510 litres; longer and lower than current Jetta
Engines: 1.4-litre petrol either 122 or 160 PS; 1.6 diesel 105 PS; 2.0 diesel 140 PS
Best: 1.6 diesel (BlueMotion); just 109 g/km CO2 and an official 67 mpg; with either five-speed manual or seven-speed DSG auomatic.
Price: Starting around £17,000 for the TSI petrol, 122PS, 1.4-litre in S trim
On sale: February; first deliveries May