A bit of Jetta history
The Jetta has been around for ages. Sold over six generations under various aliases in innumerable countries, the relatively small (internationally) family sedan was originally conceived way back in 1979 as a Golf with a boot with some styling tweaks.
While Jettas have been traditionally Golf based, the latest Mk VII Golf has already moved to VW’s versatile and highly flexible MQB platform, leaving the current Jetta (A6) to straddle the brand’s PQ35 underpinnings, on which the Mk VI Golf used to sit.
Interestingly, Volkswagen of China already has a MQB based sedan called the Lamando (technically, the seventh generation Jetta), but the rest of the world doesn’t get to see one yet.
The current generation Jetta saw a mild refresh internationally last year, which made its first global appearance at the 2014 New York Auto Show. We got to sample one of those before an Indian launch which is slated for the 17th of February 2015.
What’s new : The face-lift in images
Volkswagen Group styles its cars with swathes of restraint, and even the Huracan, sitting on top of the food-chain might come across as a little tame and benign to the slightly hotter of blood. The Jetta is no less. The lines have been honed to define the essence of a relatively compact sedan body-style, not push the boundaries.
I think its a positively handsome looking thing, which can be characterized as a person who thinks that it’s the details that actually count. The lines are not meant to offend anyone, nor to tantalize. Even in its abilities, it’s polite and smooth talking, like someone dressed in a smart, finely tailored suit.
The face-lift adds a pair of new bumpers, tail lamps, along with a new grille.
The front bumper is all-new, and tries to emulate the next highest of its kin – the new Passat. Sporting a revised air-dam, a lower lip and a new set of fog lamps, it adds to the handsomeness of the new Jetta.
The grille has become deeper, and now sports a set of widely spaced chrome slats giving it an authoritative fascia. Width remains the same at 1778 mm.
Illumination is carried over from the outgoing model; with projectors, signature LED DRLs on the Highline variants..
..and double barrel, halogen lamps on the Trendline/Comfortline variants.
The rear boot lid gains a vestigial duck-tail spoiler, one not quite as pronounced as the example on the new A3 sedan.
The new rear bumper is almost too subtle. The shape of the reflectors and a couple of unseen lines bridging them has changed.
The new tail lamps are noticeably different, tapering toward the insides to fall into the Audi scheme of things.
Do we smell a little bit of the A4 in here?
Meaty, twin pipes on the TDi are carried over.
At 4659mm, the Jetta is a smidgen longer than the Toyota Corolla Altis and the Renault Fluence, while a height of 1453mm makes it sit lower than them.
205/55 R16 Goodyear Eagle NCT 5 rubber wrapped around 6.5J x 16″ Sedona wheels for the Trendline/Comfortline variants.
Slightly fancier 6.5J x 16″ Atlanta wheels for the Highline variants.
Interiors and Features in images
The pleasing, dual-tone dashboard remains, and so does the premium build quality all throughout.
Inside, fresh additions revolve around the new, sporty, flat-bottomed steering wheel from the Mk VII Golf and Polo/Vento face-lifts, replete with paddle shifters for the DSG transmission. The new wheel is also mounted with updated audio controls and telephony. There’s also a new driver fatigue detection system that analyses steering inputs and warns if it gathers information that the driver is starting to lose it, apart from some new chrome trimming.
The new flat-bottomed wheel is chunky and feels nice to hold; we love the sound of leather rubbing against the palm.
The front seats are supportive and perfectly bolstered, and hold your bottom and shoulders pretty snugly.
12-way electrical adjustable driver seat
If you get yourself a Jetta, chances are you’ll be spending some time in the rear seat as well, which offers more than enough room in all directions.
It also hides a central; drop down arm rest and a couple of glass holders.
The rear vents chill pretty effectively, but no individualized temperature control at the back.
The Highline gets a 6½ inch touch-screen infotainment system, 8 speakers (sounds good), 6-CD changer, AUX-in and SD card connectivity; but no USB connectivity.
The Trendline/Comfortline variants continue with a regular music system. No. of speakers go down from 8 to 4 on this variant.
Other features include 6 Airbags, 2 ISOFIX mounts, Climatronic System with dual zone Air Conditioning and Park distance control (front and rear). There is no rear view camera though.
The face-lift also adds a new, classier, chrome ringed instrument cluster.
Internal storage is commendable, and is accommodating enough
The engines continue unchanged, so what’s already been served is there to eat again. Both petrol and diesel power is available, with a 1968 cc, in-line 4 cylinder, Common Rail turbocharged unit burning the dirty fuel, while a 1390 cc, in-line 4 cylinder, turbocharged, inter-cooled unit igniting the gasoline, prices of which continue to plummet south. While the former makes 140 PS of maximum power at 4200 rpm along with 320 Nm of maximum torque spread over 1750-2500 rpm, the latter manages 122 PS of maximum power at 5000 rpm, while maximum torque is rated at 200 Nm between 1500 to 4000 rpm.
Like before, the diesel version (TDi) comes with a choice of a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed dual clutch automatic (DSG) transmission, sending power to the front wheels. The petrol version (TSi), however has to do with just the manual box.
Ride and Handling
It’s a clichéd saying but the Jetta, for all intents and purposes, strikes a fine balance between ride and handling. With coil springs up front and a multi-link rear set-up at the rear, the suspension eats up undulations and pot holes in a manner that befits premium cars twice the price. While jagged surfaces are dealt with muffled murmurs, bigger craters on the road are whiffed away with a far-away thud – yes, the Jetta’s a nice place to park your bottom in.
We drove both the DSG and the manual transmission equipped versions, but the latter felt a tad patchier and stiffer. Certainly the miniscule weight difference (30 Kgs) isn’t to blame here, maybe a difference in tire pressures then. Drive assist systems include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Anti Slip Regulation (ASR), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist and Hill Hold Control.
The enjoyable handling is all that an average Jetta buyer will ever want. The electrically assisted steering won’t win any brownie points when it comes to driver feedback, but is fairly accurate and predictable. The car corners with confidence, and does what it’s told to do without the capable chassis caught in a twist – after all it also underpinned the Mk VI Golf GTi hot hatchback. Body roll is well contained, and the grip is always your alliance, unless you’re too adventurous with your flicking maneuvers at unspeakable speeds. The aforementioned aids care not to intervene even when the going gets spirited, and make their presence fully felt only when the limits are reached. There is perceptible torque steer when you truly give it the beans when exiting a corner, but it’s oddly re-assuring in a car so dynamically clinical and neutral.
We sampled only the 2.0-litre turbo diesel, and it packs quite a punch. 320 Newton Meters come and say hello at 1750 revolutions per minute, and wallops your back till about 3000 – the sweet spot of enthusiastic motoring in the Jetta. Post that, the going wanes a tad, but nothing to complain about, because you’re already juicing a pretty linear power delivery. Redline is at 5500 revs, which is pretty optimistic for a diesel motor.
The DSG works well, and with the addition of paddle shifters, the driving experience has become more engaging. As expected, in D mode, the box is predictable, seamless and intuitive, and takes matters in its own hands when you’re not in the mood for donkey-work. S (manual) mode gives more freedom, and you can wring it out with the hidden paddles behind the wheel, but it shifts by itself when nearing the red line anyway. Volkswagen claims an ARAI certified fuel efficiency figure of 16.96 kmpl for the diesel variant.
The manual, however, is more enjoyable (personally), as tradition defines it. The shifter feels good to hold, while the throws are smooth and slick. The clutch is beautifully weighted, and offers just the right amount of lightness and play. Reining all that power at your own sweet disposal is immensely pleasing, and lets one explore the characteristics of the motor, which shows a whiff of lag below 1750 revs. It’s also lighter on the wallet, with an ARAI certified efficiency figure of 19.33 kmpl.
The brakes are more than adequate, and the discs on all four corners offer good bite to haul down almost 2 tons of Jetta briskly.
Silk Blue – a beautiful new shade for 2015
The new Jetta is so good, that it almost becomes clinical, like most of the mass produced Teutons. There’s absolutely nothing to criticize about it whole heartedly, especially when measured up against the competition. The looks are understated, but that’s how all VWs are – get used to living with it, for more often than not, it means you are a man with a refined taste. With its neutral handling, matured body control, supple ride and good performance, the well-engineered Jetta cannot be argued against. We would, however, wait for the prices to the unveiled on the 17th of February 2015 before giving our final verdict.