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What's in store for the all-new Jetta

The recently refreshed VW Jetta is an exhibition of the Germans’ deftness in a nifty mid-size package

In its sixth generation now, the Jetta, over the past decades, has witnessed great international success with over 6.6 million units having been sold. One of the largest selling European cars in the US, the mid-size sedan is known for its mature design, great dynamics and feature rich, spacious interior. The current generation Jetta’s mid-life facelift made its international debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show. The refreshed version of the car was introduced to India some time back. We took the car out for a comprehensive road test to assess its abilities. Here’s how it fared.

Price: Rs 14-20 lakh  (ex-showroom)
VW Jetta

Exterior
The Jetta, like most of its VW siblings is the handiwork of designers who believe in subtlety and attention to detail. It’s an evolved, understated design and looks handsome as ever with its well-weighted proportions and clean, uncluttered lines. VW hasn’t tinkered too much with the car’s detailing. Subtle changes have been made to spruce up the car’s appearance without making it look very different from the original sixth-generation model.

Reversing camera still missed in the otherwise well-finished, tastefully appointed interior
Reversing camera still missed in the otherwise well-finished, tastefully appointed interior

As part of the facelift, the Jetta gets new bumpers up front and at the rear. The front bumper looks significantly different from the old unit, and somewhat emulates its counterpart on the Passat, a model that sits higher up in the VW food chain. The new bumper gets a totally re-styled air-dam, newly designed fog lamps and a new lower lip to add more attitude to the car’s face. Above the bumper, the Jetta gets a new radiator grille with a triad of chrome slats, replacing the earlier twin slat unit. The grille by itself has gone deeper and the chrome slats now have a bit more space between them. The headlamps with LED daytime running lights look similar to the previous units, but they aren’t in reality. The lamps are now sharper and more angular, though they still use Xenon units for illumination. While the top of the line Highline variant features projectors, the lower spec Trendline/ Comfortline variants get double barrel halogen lamps.

The new radiator grille gets a triad of more spaced out chrome slats
The new radiator grille gets a triad of more spaced out chrome slats

Emulating the treatment given to the lamps at the front end, the tail-lamps too have been restyled to look sharper, and taper toward the insides to get an Audi-esque shape. The rear deck lid gets an integrated spoiler, which may not be of much use functionally, but does manage to add some visual flair. The rear bumper has changed, too. There isn’t much difference over the previous unit, though look closely and you’ll realise that the shape of the reflectors and a couple of mild lines bridging them has changed.

Headlamps on the top of the line Highline variant feature Xenon units with projector setup and LED DRLs
Headlamps on the top of the line Highline variant feature Xenon units with projector setup and LED DRLs

The car gets 205/55 Rs 16 Goodyear Eagle NCT 5 rubber wrapped around 6.5J x 16 Sedona wheels for the Trendline/Comfortline and 6.5J x 16 Atlanta wheels for the Highline variants. The changes on the new car may not be too obvious, but they work to make the new Jetta look slightly more planted, and wider. We like what we see on the facelift.

Engine, transmission and performance
The facelift carries over the engines from its predecessor, so essentially there’s no gain in terms of performance. The Jetta comes in both petrol and diesel versions, with a 1968 cc, in-line 4 cylinder, common rail turbocharged diesel engine, and a 1390 cc, in-line 4 cylinder, turbocharged, inter-cooled petrol powerplant. 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.

The tail-lamps have been reshaped too and now get an angular design, somewhat resembling the tail-units of some Audi cars
The tail-lamps have been reshaped too and now get an angular design, somewhat resembling the tail-units of some Audi cars

Transmission options, too, are similar to the previous version. The diesel version comes with a choice of a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed dual clutch automatic (DSG) transmission, sending power to the front wheels.

For this test, we drove the diesel powered Jetta. Now, the 2.0 litre TDI diesel is sure a punchy unit, but does suffer with some turbo lag. Performance from the oil burning unit at low revs isn’t too strong, though the engine comes into its own once the tacho needle sweeps the 2000 rpm mark. Once the turbo spools up nicely, you get to experience a proper shove, thanks to all of those 320 metric units of twist. The relatively less progressive nature of the engine makes driving the manual variant a bit of a chore in the city, though it really feels delightful once shown the open roads.

Engines remain unchanged and the Jetta continues to be offered with a 2.0 litre  diesel and a 1.4 litre TSI petrol
Engines remain unchanged and the Jetta continues to be offered with a 2.0 litre diesel and a 1.4 litre TSI petrol

The Jetta boasts a meaty mid-range, allowing you to ride a strong wave of torque for solid in-gear acceleration. The diesel variant is redlined at 5500 revs, though the strongest acceleration can be felt between the 2000 – 4500 rpm range. The engine is also a bit noisier than ideal, and could have done with a lesser clatter. The 6-speed DSG works wonderfully well though. Swapping ratios quickly, cleanly and intuitively, the twin clutch unit brings out the best from the torquey turbo diesel. You can choose between the regular D or the enthusiast oriented S mode. The Jetta comes equipped with pedal shifters, allowing you to make manual shifts without having to take your hands off the steering wheel. The ARAI fuel efficiency for the manual transmission variant stands at 19.33 kmpl and 16.96 kmpl for the DSG automatic. Overall, the 2.0 litre diesel engine is a solid performer, though it shines like a true gem only when buffed with the silken
DSG auto.

Comfy, ribbed back seats with a foldable central arm rest and dedicated A/C vents
Comfy, ribbed back seats with a foldable central arm rest and dedicated A/C vents

Ride and Handling
Volkswagen prides itself for making cars which manage to blend an absorbent ride and confident handling to a delectable effect. The Jetta stands true to the brand’s reputation, offering a scrumptious mix of absorbent ride and enjoyable dynamics. Featuring coil springs up front and a multi-link set-up at the rear, the suspension eats up undulations and pot holes remarkably well. While jagged surfaces and minor undulations are dealt with muffled rumbles, bigger potholes translate only into a subdued thud.

Electronic wizardry to negate the stupidities of human-faced apes includes Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Anti Slip Regulation (ASR), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist and Hill Hold Control.
Like most modern steering units, there isn’t much feedback at hand here, too. The electrically assisted steering is fairly accurate and predictable though. With its honed underpinnings, the Jetta corners with poise and has a chassis to endow it with great composure even under pressure. Body roll is well contained, and grip from the tyres is impressive for the class.

Verdict
The Jetta wouldn’t be the longstanding success it is without some inimitable virtues. A distilled design, great dynamics and great engine options — the Jetta has the essentials well-covered. A comprehensive safety net comprising 6 airbags, ABS + EBD, ESP and 5 star NCAP rating also make it one of the safest car to travel in with family. What we do miss, though, are leather seats and a reversing camera — features which are offered in much lower priced cars these days. DSG automatic adds tremendously to the appeal of the Jetta, and its absence in the mid-level trim is a bit disappointing. However, the Jetta still remains a honed, refined machine which is among the very best money can buy in its segment.

Technical specs 1.4 TSI petrol

Engine: 1390cc
MAX Power: 122PS @ 5000RPM
MAX TORQUE: 200Nm @ 1500 to 4000RPM
Transmission: 6 speed manual
Fuel:  petrol
Drivetrain: FWD

Technical specs 2.0 TDI diesel
Engine: 1968cc
MAX Power: 140PS @ 200RPM
MAX TORQUE: 320Nm @ 1750-2500RPM
Transmission: 6 speed manual/6 speed dual clutch automatic
Fuel:  diesel
Drivetrain: FWD

Rivals

Toyota Corolla Altis

Toyota Corolla Altis
THE new Corolla looks sharper than ever. While the engines and drivetrain options on offer may not be segment defining, there is no questioning the comfort, space and the reliability of this proven workhorse. There is a 1.8-litre petrol and a rather underwhelming 1.4 turbo diesel to choose from. Both engines can be had with a manual transmission, though the petrol motor also offers a CVT auto. Even after so many years, the Corolla remains a highly recommendable car, especially in the petrol variant.
Price:  Rs 13.3 – 17.7 lakh (ex-showroom)

Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai recently introduced a facelift for its successful Elantra sedan in India. On the outside, it features revised bumpers, new fog lamps and projector headlamps with LED DRLs. On the inside, the car features all black interiors, metallic scuff plates, aluminium pedals and rear AC vents. The Elantra is offered with a 1.8-litre petrol and a 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine. A feature rich, comfortable and sensible car that stands
out stylistically.
Price:  Rs 14 – 18 lakh (ex-showroom)

Skoda Octavia
Skoda Octavia

Skoda Octavia
THE latest gen Octavia is the most spacious and the most feature laden car in the segment. Skoda is offering the new Octavia with segment-topping, three engine variants. The base variant is powered by a 1.4 litre TSI petrol unit, which gets only a manual transmission. Then you have the 1.8 TSi petrol and 2.0 TDI turbo diesel engines, both getting the option of a manual as well as a dual clutch DSG auto transmission. Boasting a bristling new interior, along with segment leading creature comforts, the new Octavia makes a tremendous case for itself in its class.
Price: Rs 16 – 20.5 lakh (ex-showroom)

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