The Jetta is a very successful bloodline for Volkswagen – in fact in China, various generations of the Jetta are known to co-exist due to their high demand. There is no doubt that the curvaceous Jetta was a great car for its price. But you will agree, that as compared to aggressive cars like the Civic, the Laura and the Cruze, the bulbous Jetta looked like an obese, pet pigeon that was trying to flutter its wings in a bunch of wild cats! The scarce amount of Jettas on the road also explains what I'm trying to say. But now, there is a new one and the Germans have done very a good job with the styling.
The tailgate of the new Jetta is still quite subtle, but the design makes it appear like a baby-Audi from a distance. The taillights don't have any LEDs or meteor shower themes, but the reflective elements mimic the optical light guides that you see on cars like the new Audi A6.
But while the tailgate looks quite distinctive than the current crop of Volkswagens in the country, the side profile the new Jetta makes it look like an overgrown Vento – which is a good thing – because you get large cabin space while still maintaining a sporty, low roofline. But that also means that the glasshouse is sleek too and could make you feel claustrophobic if you are tall and plan to sit in the back seat.
The icing on the cake though is a front end. Yes, it's too similar to a Vento again – but that, is in a passing glance. Look carefully and you will see the aggression in the design. It looks like an angry face – anger for the way the preceding Jetta was received in our market. You get the sharp double-barrel headlights that bear the Scirocco look. These headlights incorporate daytime running lights as well, but unlike the rest of their group siblings, these aren't LEDs.
The overall look of the new Jetta makes it look more confident and smart as compared to its earlier model, but the familial resemblance to the Vento is evident.
User Experience Review
The aggression of the exterior design doesn't flow into the interiors. They are typically Volkswagen – straight lines, soft plastics, wood garnish, classy use of chrome and brushed metal and uniformity from top to bottom. You don't have a single knob or stalk that looks out of place.
Even the touchscreen infotainment system that we've seen so far in the Superb, Laura and Passat, gels seamlessly within the dashboard design of the new Jetta. But like the Laura, the Jetta too misses out on telephone pairing and satellite-navigation. But Volkswagen India has finally understood that the world has moved on from CD and therefore you do get support for auxiliary input, USB drives, MP3 players and iPod connectivity as well. The speaker system is top-notch and even a MP3-CD full of vintage, lot bit-rate songs that we were gifted on our roadtrip, sounded like a digitally re-mastered audio-CD! The audio system gets additional controls on the steering wheel as well. The steering wheel is familiar too with the typical Volkswagen three-spoke design.
The instrumentation has the trademark Volkswagen design – with two large clocks bisected by a multi-information display panel that has readouts for the trip computer, fuel economy calculator, clock, gear position indicator, service reminder and the infotainment system. This LCD has an elegant white-on-black display.
The trip computer can get hidden behind the steering though, depending on your seating position. Speaking of which, the steering is adjustable for rake and reach and the driver’s seat gets electronic adjustments for height, reach, angle of the backrest and level of lumbar support. It won’t memorise your individual seat positions though. The front passenger seat has similar adjustments (excluding the lumbar support), but manual.
The rear seats are very comfortable and ergonomic. But the Jetta isn’t a grand tourer. On longer distances, neck pain does creep in due to the fixed angle of the backrest and more importantly, the headrest. So getting a sound sleep in the back seat isn’t an easy task. The seats are designed to seat two adults in comfort and stuffing in a third person isn’t a very good idea.
But overall, the new Jetta is a comfortable and luxurious package for both – the ones who love to drive and for the ones who like to be driven around.
We have driven the new Jetta for over four thousand kilometers and that 2.0-litre TDi mill feels as impressive as ever. In fact this 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine is a hot favorite in the Volkswagen camp – you’ll find it in the Volkswagens, Skodas and even Audis! In the Jetta guise, it produces 140 PS of power and 320 Nm or torque. Drive the Jetta around for a few hundred kilometers and you’ll know why this engine is a hot favorite.
But what’s more exciting than the engine itself, are those little paddles behind the steering wheel! They aren’t a first in this class, but thankfully they aren’t mated to any sluggish gearbox either – like you get in the Honda City. Instead, what you get here is a dual-clutch transmission – or DSG (Dual Shift Gearbox) in Volkswagen speak. So what you get is a gearbox that makes for quick and precise shifts. What’s even more important is that it is right at your fingertips, so you don’t have to get your hand off the steering wheel when you are hurtling down twisties or indulging in some performance driving. Once you are done having your set of fun, you can simply slot the shifter back into drive mode and enjoy the smooth shifts of the Jetta’s automatic transmission. Downshifts in auto-mode, do take a tad longer though as compared to the manual mode.
The Jetta’s handling is superb and is in a completely different league as compared to the Civic or the Corolla. There is very little body roll and the car feels absolutely planted even when tackling corners at a high speed. Furthermore, the rubber is wide and sticky and the NVH, top notch; so even at triple digits speeds, there is considerably low amount of road and tyre noise creeping into the cabin. The engine is slightly noisy though and makes the type of fuel it burns, evident. For now, the Jetta's tail only wears the TDI badge, but a TSI badge will be available soon when the 1.8-litre stonker from the Laura RS joins the Jetta family.
The new Jetta has matured overall as compared to its earlier avatar. It appears to be smarter, feels more luxurious and is fun to drive. While the entire package is completely worth the money it demands, the new Jetta still ends up looking like the protective elder sibling of the Vento – and that could act like a double-edged sword for Volkswagen.