Volkswagen could be makers of people’s cars, but there are at least some that count VW in the luxury segment. You can’t refuse them the share of luxury they afford the brand – after all, an Audi is a Volkswagen at some stage; why even the Bugatti Veyron is one. Interestingly, the Jetta is one car that still lives the raison d’être of Volkswagen as great value and the people’s choice. Similar in its packaging philosophy to its Japanese counterparts of a Toyota Corolla or a Nissan Sentra, this is a car that is all about family values and the best of all worlds.
UPSIDE: Spacious comfort but for mid-rear passenger, Good visibility, Stable drive
FLIPSIDE: Moderate fuel economy, Quality cabin material, Plain exteriors
THE PRICE: AED 69,400 onwards
SPECS: 16” steel wheels in entry level and 17” Queensland alloy wheels in SEL, Glass sunroof, Heated front seats, Park Distance Control, 8-speaker 6-CD changer, Media-IN, Dual Zone climate, 6 airbags as standard, DRL, Front 3-point belts with height adjustment and tensioners
DIMENSIONS: 4640 mm long, 967 mm legroom which is 67 mm more than previous model
Jetta could the most stable car in its category. It doesn’t shake a whisker at speed limits or even while taking bends or exits at surprising pace. The Jetta’s narrow pillars and windowlines are exemplary, making for great all round vision while driving.
Between its workhorse values of 115 bhp and 170 Nm, the Jetta doesn’t make you feel deprived of power. The car shifts rather smoothly along its 6-speed transmission. If you ever feel the dip, half-way through your overtaking on the highway, blame the segment for it. Do the same for the loud drone that accompanies this parched call for power that to the Jetta’s credit is much softer and bearable than many of its American or Japanese counterparts!
There is a sports shift, one level down the D mode. But it doesn’t do much more than what you can achieve by a thrust on the throttle on Drive. However, it makes the noisy upward climb more err… meaningful in that, the drive lingers longer where the torque is there to take.
Being uneventful is probably what marks the Jetta ride. Even though there isn’t much to be read from the nice looking 3-spoked steering wheel, I felt it quite suitable to the Jetta, given the overall smooth nature of the drive. It has no sporty pretension, manoeuvres easily, and is slightly loosely weighted that you end up turning a little more, to bring the car around. The seats are pretty good with their side support and even comes with electronic controls and lumbar adjustments.
Cabin and Controls
The Jetta flaunts an impressive dose of leather in the seats and seat bolster insides along with hard cabin plastic with motifs that remind you of carbon fibre, as well as a nice, rubbery dash. The console is neatly stacked with minimum controls, the steering wheel is nice to hold, the cabin is relatively silent despite an occasionally noisy engine, and there is a large dose of storage space.
The Jetta pleases its owner with space like a Nissan Sentra, perhaps even more boot space, and gadgetry like an eager Korean. Save the navigation, the cabin has everything including Bluetooth and a decent stereo system. The Jetta boasts the neat design aesthetics of the Volkswagen and even has a little sunroof to top off the list. The Jetta SEL comes with keyless entry and all the controls on the steering, including the telephone I couldn’t test. I’m sure there was a way to link it but obviously wasn’t that apparent.
Despite all of its elegance and generosity, the Jetta doesn’t seem to exude the aura of luxury some people see in a VW. But then, with a favourable pricing, that perhaps brings its closer to value-seeking buyers.
The stance and shape and the design elements of the Jetta itself is pretty plain. It seems uncared for, when you consider the overzealous design delivery of Toyota or Hyundai. Which simply means, here is a Volkswagen that you can right away put into your buying list if you’re considering one of those rather unexciting, penny-pinching, totally sensible options people readily go for.
It is in its role as a family car the plain Jane transforms into marriage material. The ride comfort within a Jetta is split almost equally between the family in the front and the rear, even though some might find the roof slightly too close for comfort. The comfortable rear seat narrows toward the middle and would still be good enough for a child. Things would have been better back there if the console tunnel with the AC vent hadn’t pushed itself in! In the SEL variant that I tested, the Jetta came with a centre armrest with cup holders for the rear while the central console came with a moveable lid – a pity it was too low to use as an armrest.
The fuel efficiency turned out to be around 7.73kms per litre which is not really great when you consider it is a family car that isn’t as much about power as economy.
The Essential Volkswagen Jetta 2014
The Volkswagen Jetta keeps a stable distance ahead of its Japanese and Korean rivals by giving a healthy mix of useful power, commendable comfort and a surprising expanse of storage space. It might hardly be remarkable but the Jetta leads its class in most respects. However, it is in its primary rationale as a people’s car – read family car – that the Volkswagen Jetta makes complete sense.
Note on 2015 version: The new generation Jetta is available from 2015 December onwards and has undergone design changes in the front and rear, for 10 per cent less air drag. The car gets new Lancaster 17” alloys as an option and 6 airbags as standard. With the recently added 2.5L engine boosting the power to an impressive 170 hp, the new Jetta propels itself from 0 to 100 in 9.0 sec a full 3.6 sec quicker than the previous model. Available as Jetta SE and SEL, the price begins at AED 84,000.
New dimensions: 4659 x 1774 x 1453 mm (LxWxH)
New drivetrain: 2.5 L with 170 hp, 6-speed AT