By on February 4, 2011

General Motors, Hyundai, and Volkswagen are all hungry for a much bigger slice of the North American compact sedan pie. Their past offerings didn’t do the trick. So all three recently introduced cars much different than their predecessors. Having reviewed the Cruze a few months ago, and the Elantra last week, I was eager to see how the new Jetta, VW’s attempt to give North Americans what we seem to really want, stacks up.

It should come as no surprise that the new Jetta is nothing special to look at. After all, of the five preceding generations, only the fourth might be called stylish. The fifth too strongly resembled a contemporary Corolla. The first three generations were conventionally-styled three-box sedans, and the sixth returns to these roots. Except that while early Jettas were recognizably VWs—essentially the iconic Golf with a large trunk grafted on—the new car is utterly anonymous and forgettable. But why must the new Jetta appear so plain, even cheap? The exterior design of the upcoming new Passat, also driven by VW’s somewhat cynical interpretation of North American tastes, is similarly safe, but looks more polished and upscale. Hyundai’s surging sales demonstrate the appeal of highly stylized cars that appear more expensive than they actually are.

The new Jetta’s interior is styled much like that of the previous car, but finished with all-too-obviously lower grade materials. The door panels, the vinyl upholstery, the HVAC controls—everything looks and feels cheapest-in-class. The lighter the shade, the cheaper materials tend to appear, so the washed-out beige in the tested car is not the best choice for the new Jetta.

The driver’s seat initially feels oddly shaped and a bit squishy. Only the top SEL trim level includes an adjustable lumbar support; the SE’s front bucket seats are lacking in this area. But they do provide better lateral support than most in the class. Without the compromises often imposed by a stylish exterior, visibility in all directions is good. The beltline is low enough that there’s no sense of being buried in the car.

Switch to the back seat and discover the first of the 2011 Jetta’s surprises. The new car is three inches longer than the old one (182.2 vs. 179.3), and nearly all of this increase has been allocated to rear legroom (now 38.1 inches, up from 35.4). While the new Hyundai Elantra is a midsize car based on EPA classifications, and the Jetta is a compact, the tall adults will be much more comfortable in the latter’s back seat. The Cruze’s back seat isn’t in the same league.

For the sixth-generation Jetta’s base engine, VW resurrected the 115-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder last offered in the fourth-generation car (and outdated even then). Wanting to examine the car in its best light, I passed on the “two point slow” (as it’s not-quite-affectionately known) and requested a car with the 170-horsepower 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine and the manual transmission, a five-speed. I’ve never been a fan of five-cylinder engines in the past, as they tend to sound agricultural. But in the new Jetta the five sounds smoother, and I enjoyed listening to its lower, huskier voice more than that of just about any four. As in the past, the VW 2.5 is about midrange torque, not high-end power, but for anything short of 8/10s it performs very well. The shifter isn’t tight and precise, but some thought seems to have been given to how it feels, which makes it better than most these days.

I cannot report observed fuel economy because only the SEL includes a trip computer. The EPA esimates 23 city / 33 highway, considerably better than the old car’s 21/30 but a far cry from the Elantra’s 29/40. Of course you’re getting a much larger, much torquier engine, but the 2.0 only manages 24/34. If you’re interested in excellent fuel economy in a Jetta, then the TDI (30/42) is the obvious choice.

The specs suggest that VW has sacrificed handling for the sake of cost and curb weight, as a torsion beam has replaced the previous multi-link rear suspension. And yet, even shod with the SE’s 205/55HR16 Hankook Optimo tires, the new Jetta handles far better than the new Hyundai Elantra. Perhaps it’s just been too long since I drove a MkV GLI, but even in SE trim I enjoyed the handling of the new Jetta more. With the previous car VW sought to provide the feel of a premium car, and except in the most aggressive driving it felt somewhat disconnected and numb as a result. The new car might be longer, but at just over 3,000 pounds (even with the five) it’s also 200 pounds lighter, and feels it. Given the tires and moderate tuning the new Jetta SE’s limits aren’t high, but feedback through the seat and steering wheel are so much better than the class average and the chassis handles so intuitively that driving it right up to these limits is child’s play. The Jetta’s steering feels a bit loose and light when pointed dead ahead but naturally weights up in turns—the total opposite of the Elantra’s system. Reach the Jetta’s limits—where understeer predictably overloads the outside front tire—and non-defeatable stability control kicks in. Defeatable stability control would be better for enthusiasts, but at least this system seems well-calibrated and isn’t overly intrusive. With lower profile tires and a sport suspension the Jetta SEL with Sport Package should handle even better, but for once I didn’t feel such an upgrade was necessary. As is, the Jetta SE is very enjoyable to drive.

Partly because its suspension is only moderately firm but expertly damped, the Jetta SE also rides very well, smoothly absorbing bumps and maintaining its composure over uneven pavement. The simplified rear suspension has no readily apparent ill effects. Hyundai should benchmark this car when reworking the Elantra’s suspension. One off-note: over bumps in hard corners the new Jetta’s front suspension twice produced a loud bang. The reason wasn’t clear. In general noise levels are reasonably low, if not as low as in the previous, more luxurious, heavier car.

One more surprise about the cheaper new Jetta: when equipped like the previous Jetta it’s not actually cheaper. The Base 2.0 trim might start at an attention-getting $14,995 (plus $770 for destination), but an SE with the 2.5 and optional sunroof lists for $21,565. The 2010 SE, with its nicer interior and slightly higher level of features (such as rear disc brakes, power reclining seats, and manual lumbar adjustments), listed for $21,145. A special Limited Edition model with nearly as many features cost even less, $20,045. Based on comparisons using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, the new Jetta 2.5 is priced about the same as the similarly powerful Mazda3 s after adjusting for feature differences. An Elantra costs less, while a Chevrolet Cruze costs more.

So, has Volkswagen successfully targeted the North American compact sedan buyer? I enjoyed driving the car much more than I expected to, but Americans have repeatedly demonstrated that excellent handling isn’t worth much to them. They care more about ride quality, but while the Jetta rides very well it doesn’t have the sound and feel of a premium car. Aside from its underwhelming engines, the porky Chevrolet Cruze is now king of that hill. Even if the new Jetta did sound and feel expensive, it looks cheap, especially on the inside. Ironically, while GM was benchmarking the previous Jetta when designing the interior of the Chevrolet Cruze, VW was taking a big step in the opposite direction. Cheap interiors have been widely blamed for the descent of both GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, so it’s a shock to see VW, producer of the former benchmark, now making this mistake. To top it off, the car has been noticeably cheapened, but when decently equipped it’s not actually cheaper.

In the end, we have one thing that Americans value and the Jetta unquestionably delivers: rear seat legroom. Is this enough? Unless people are simply drawn to the idea (if not so much the actuality) of a $15,000 German-engineered car, apparently so—Jetta sales are way up this year.

Vehicle provided by Dan Kelley, Suburban VW in Farmington Hills, MI, 248-741-7903

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data


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100 Comments on “Review: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SE...”


  • avatar

    IIRC, most of the Mk.IV Dubs sold in america (save the R32) used a Multi-Link Beam rear.  VW has that pretty well sorted out.
    I see this decontenting simply as VW seeking profit margin.  It’s as though they’ve finally acknowledged the Jetta’s the necessary-evil/cash-cow of the line and they want to maximize profit.  Hopefully, they’ve lowered complexity and improved reliability along the way.
     

  • avatar
    vbofw

    Exterior styling looks much better in person, but agreed on the interior.  Especially the instrument panel – no more pretty fuel and temp gauges, no more chrome around tach and speed, fewer steering wheel buttons, and that’s without even seeing the hard plastic and vinyl in person.
    Was at my dealer recently and saw a few recent Jetta (SE) buyers in, getting their free detailing post-purchase.  Let’s just say if VW was trying to appeal to the masses (i.e. not enthusiasts), they’re on their way.
    No matter how many shortcomings, I still perceive a value from German engineering over the other compacts, even if it may no longer be there.

    • 0 avatar

      The German engineering still comes through in the ride and handling. I truly was shocked how much better the Jetta is than the new Elantra in these areas. The Koreans have pilfered designers from the Germans. Now they need to pilfer some chassis tuners.
      German engineering hasn’t always yielded the best reliability. But the smaller VWs haven’t been bad in recent years, and the simplicity of the new Jetta could help here.

      To help with the Car Reliability Survey, with just about any car:

      http://www.truedelta.com/reliability.php

  • avatar
    RGS920

    I find it interesting that Ford set out to prove it can build a class leading premium small car offering the latest technology with the introduction of the new Ford Focus.  VW however, seems to have set out to prove that it can build a $14,000 small car.  Mission accomplished VW.  Also who decided to bring back the abysmal 2.0L  4 pot?  I can’t even think of an engine currently offered which has a lower HP/L rating.

    • 0 avatar

      The new Focus has MyTouch, the tested Jetta didn’t even have a simple trip computer. Quite the reversal.
      I would like to know the sales breakdown for the new Jetta by engine and trim level. Are most of the cars 2.0s? TDI? Or actually the 2.5?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I see a bunch of the new Jettas here in San Diego. Most of them look like rental cars and I see them at tourist spots when I ride my bicycle. That still leaves quite a few that are being purchased by commuters who are picking what look to be zero content Jettas over all the other ‘appliance’ cars that have much better reputations.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      RGS920 – you don’t think VW was going for torque over HP with the 2.0L ABA engine?

  • avatar
    philipbarrett

    On the Cruze – does GM even realize it won the British Touring Car Championship last year, spanking even the BMWs.  What do the brass at Chevy offer the public both sides of the Atlantic?  A 4-banger with 138HP stunning ponies.
     
     

  • avatar
    Zackman

    This car appears to be a VW I could like, the windows look large enough to actually see out of. Forget the trip computer, is there a USB connector? I’m tired of through the years of making home-made 8 tracks and cassettes that the stereo either eats up and now CD’s that just don’t work. Is internet radio available? Terrestrial radio stinks except for traffic reports. It does need some exterior trim to make it a bit more special, too. All in all, another car to check out this month at the auto show.

    • 0 avatar

      iPod integration and satellite radio are part of the Convenience Package, which is required to get the sunroof and which was on the tested car.
      Not sure about Internet radio–I’m not aware of any car that explicitly offers this.

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      Some of the aftermarket radio manufacturers offer Pandora (Pioneer for one does)

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      Michael,
       
      Ford supposedly has “an app for that” if you have SYNC. I believe that it supports all SYNC equipped vehicles with the LCD screen. I have not seen it in the wild yet.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      You can use the Pandora app on your iPhone/Android Phone/Blackberry with any car that supports Bluetooth audio streaming (most current vehicles that support Bluetooth support the audio streaming), but you still have to control it with your phone.  There are aftermarket stereo options that support Pandora through the LCD screen.
       
      Ford is rolling out Sync Applink on the current Fiesta and 2012 Mustang which allows you to control Pandora using the voice commands so you don’t have to actually look at the phone to do it.  Previous and other current Sync enabled vehicles do have the ability to download apps, and the Sync software can be upgraded, so it will likely just be a matter of time before it spreads to the rest of the current and previous lineup.

    • 0 avatar
      tnk479

      Yeah, I use Bluetooth streaming from Pandora and TuneIn Radio, both apps on my iPhone, with the stereo that came with my Subaru Impreza WRX. It works really well and with TuneIn, it’s awesome to listen to my old favorite radio station a thousand miles away. With Pandora I can even use the steering wheel buttons to skip to the next song. I’d love to try the Ford system someday though, it sounds like it’s pretty much the best out there. When will Microsoft sell a double DIN aftermarket unit??

  • avatar
    segfault

    Someone needs to review the base 2.0L model with an automatic–this is what they will be flooding the rental fleets with (if they aren’t already).

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Car and Driver did short take on a 2.0 5-speed combo. It actually got better mileage in their hands than any of the ’40 mpg’ EPA cars. 29 mpg v. 25 mpg for a Cruze 1.4T, for example. They’re both slow, but the Jetta was lower priced, roomier, and more efficitent in the real world. I have the same amount of faith in VW products as I do in GM-Daewoo hybrids(zero), but the Jetta does seem like the smarter buy.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      The Two Point Slow isn’t any worse than the D17 in my ’02 Civic.  ~115 horsepower was an acceptable number for entry-level compacts just a few years ago.  More mileage would be nice, but at least it’s cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      Norma

      @FromaBuick6:
      May be it was so long ago that you forget the D17 02 Civic can be more than 350 lb lighter than this latest dumps-down offering from VW. It also got a 16 valve head and ability to rev.
      Sadly, at this day of age, VW is still in its “2018 No.1″ dream that makes it resurrect an 8v 2.slow. Sigh. What more need to be said.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Yep, Honda’s 1669cc non-Vetec made 115 HP/ 110 ft/lbs. of torque back in 2002.
       
      9 years later VW offers the same horsepower with an engine that has 18% more displacement and has to pull around a heavier car than the 02 Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      OldandSlow
      and…gasp…my 2010 Fit makes almost exactly that same power output, at almost exactly the same displacement as your old Honda. I briefly considered valuing the displacement per power superiority of my car over the Jetta, but then I realized it cost more than a 2.0, and doesn’t ride as well on the highway (I do value it’s darty ride, just making a point here).
       
      I still love my car, but power vs. displacement is an old argument mostly won by expensive imports which end up slower than their equally priced, larger engined competition. It’s a bit weird that VW is taking GM’s place in this comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      I’ve got the 13 year old version of the 2.0L ABA 8V in my VW Cabrio and it may be 115HP but it is torquey. I have a Honda 2.0L 16V and the VW climbs the mtns around here without shifting down (5 speed manual) where the Hondas we own and have owned generally needed a shift down to 4th to make the same hill at a similar speed. Like them both though.
      Much easier to drive around with some spare torque.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    Thanks for the review, Michael.

    While I am no VW apologist and think things have gone downhill since the MkIV GTI I owned, I dare say that in profile, it resembles a 3-series, imitated Hofmeister kink and all.  But the front and rear views are boredom defined.  At least it’s being honest about it and not trying to look “dynamic” to offset what it’s not (e.g., Acura guillotine/cheese graters).

    Interior unfortunately looks closer to Toyota grade than Audi.  Still, from the decent handling described, it may just become my default choice at the rental counter when one is available.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    I’ve been dying for a review of the two-point-slow in a 2011 context. Merging on to a freeway with 26 lbs/hp sounds frightening.

    As for the cheapened design/ interior materials, the solution is obvious: get the Sportwagen. It’s previous-gen quality with a current-gen front clip.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/car/10q4/2011_volkswagen_jetta_s-short_take_road_test

      Slow, but better real world fuel efficiency than that of any of the direct injected, turbocharged, dual clutch life lessons in the making.

    • 0 avatar

      I remember (and even enjoyed) cars with much worse power-to-weight ratios. But it’s all in the application.

    • 0 avatar

      Wow – in the battle to see who can field the slowest passenger car available in the US, this new base Jetta appears to be strong contender. Better hope you don’t get challenged to a stop-light race by a Prius.

    • 0 avatar
      erik_t

      Good lord, a +1 to Mr. Karesh. I swear nobody here has driven a car even fifteen years old. I’m not saying I would have revived the 2.0 for a car of this size, but come on. 26lb/hp is ‘frightening’? Did you drive anything but Corvettes in the 1990s?

  • avatar
    Steinweg

    “I cannot report observed fuel economy because only the SEL includes a trip computer”

    Should you really be relying on that anyway? I can think of a few TG episodes where those instruments were shown to be unreliably conservative; unreliably optimistic is also a possibility in my feeble brain.

    “Cheap interiors have been widely blamed for the descent of both GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy”

    That might be an exaggeration.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Very astute. It is just embarrassing when someone says how impressed they were by getting 38 mpg in the new Hyundai Sonata turbo based on the trip computer. Odometers and gas pumps are the only numbers that even exist under the threat of government verification. Using them can give you a pretty good idea of what it really costs to keep a vehicle fueled.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, but using them also requires spending money to put gas in the car : )
      In my experience the trip computers are usually within an MPG or two. Instantaneous is BS, but numbers over 5+ miles tend to be okay.
      I’m the one who reported high 30s in the Sonata turbo. This does require highway driving with a very light foot.
      Manual calculations are not without their own inaccuracies, most notably whether the tank was filled to precisely the same spot each time. The larger the fills, the less this is a factor.
      My site (truedelta.com) does also offer fuel economy reports from owners, and the survey asks if the reports were from a trip computer or manual calculations. With enough responses it might be possible to analyze how accurate trip computers are–but there are also many other variables.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Michael,

      I had a part time job for a year and a half where I used fleet vehicles from Ford and GM that I had to refuel and record mileage on every time I turned them in. They all had trip computers, and they all had an optimistic view of the amount of fuel being consumed. I have/had two BMWs with trip computers. One of them doesn’t get driven enough for the figures to mean much. I think some of the gas evaporates, or the car is in a very bad state of tune for a book maintained 90K mile car. The other one has a 110K mile average over 30 mpg according to the computer, and before getting mired in DC gridlock for over a year it was closer to 40 mpg. Mind you this is a car that has only actually averaged more than 30 mpg on rare long interstate trips and that has most tanks average closer to 23 mpg.

      Car and Driver actually measured the Sonato 2.0T’s fuel consumption. They achieved 24 mpg. That isn’t great, and it isn’t terrible. It is about what similar performing sedans get in Car and Driver’s hands, the only difference being that naturally aspirated cars are better long term propositions.

    • 0 avatar

      The 24 MPG C&D observed probably involved mixed driving with a heavy foot.  They generally say nothing about the mix of driving and driving style that yields their observed figures.
      One thing I have noticed using the trip computers–and this isn’t remotely a breakthrough–is that driving style and the number of stops per mile can make a huge difference difference. I think that this might be even more the case with the latest engines than earlier. They’re tuned to be very efficient in steady state cruising, but call on them for much acceleration and the figures plummet.
      Going forward, I will be sure to always disclose when figures are from trip computers.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Filling the tank up to the same level each time isn’t a challenge. Just fill until the gas pump shuts off. When I’ve explored just how much more fuel the tank will hold in my car (all the way up to the cap), it isn’t much. In case anybody mentions flooding the evaporative system by filling up to the cap – I never do this unless I’m going straight out onto the highway to use up a few gallons leaving the evap system all dried out and room for the fuel to expand or contract as it pleases.

  • avatar

    Past Mk. 2 GTi (Recaro Package, 16v motor) owner here.
    Does any version of this car have IRS, or are we here in the colonies expected to be savages ?  I’ll admit that in city driving there is little difference, but once things get interesting…..

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Your MKII Golf had a beam axle.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I had a MK 2 GTI as well.  If you liked that none of the new Jettas will be of any interest, but the MKV and MKVI GTIs are every bit as much fun to drive as the Mk 2.  They are different, but I’m finally back to being a GTI fan.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      The upcoming GLI is supposed to retain the multi-link independent rear suspension. Or … you can buy a Golf, or a Golf wagon (Jetta wagon in USA) which retains the previous model’s IRS.
       
      I’ll take a Golf over this Jetta any day, even at a higher price. It’s worth it. But, I have no plans to trade in my high-kilometers Mk5 Jetta TDI any time soon.

    • 0 avatar

      VW and Audi used beam axles in their FWD cars for decades. Tuned right they’re not nearly as bad for handling as a live rear axle in a RWD car. The ability to twist can give them some of the attributes of an IRS, and unsprung weight might even be lower than with an IRS depending on how the axle is designed and mounted.
      I did my best to make the new Jetta’s beam axle behave badly, but it refused to.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Kevin Jaeger,

      I’ve driven the 2008 MKV GTI DSG and I owned a MKII Jetta. In the US, it was essential to get a Jetta during the early MKII years, as they were made in Germany and the US market Golf’s were decontented and flimsy. I could imagine someone liking the MKV GTI on its own merits, but it was by no means a similar drive to a good MKII. Even though it only weighs 50% more, it felt more like twice as ponderous as the mid ’80s VWs.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      CJinSD – Certainly the new GTIs are much heavier than MkII VWs.  What modern car isn’t?  While being heavier the new GTIs have captured the fun-to-drive aspects while still being very practical daily drivers.
      This new Jetta will likely sell well, and capture some of the fleet business it looks like Ford and GM are vacating.  It will be interesting to see how much that will damage the VW brand for the premium models.

    • 0 avatar
      vbofw

      …I also wonder how a flood of downmarket, $14k MKVIs will damage resale value for the relatively upmarket MKVs.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    The local VW dealer closest to me shows twenty five, 2011 Jettas available. One of which is equipped with the 2 point slow and 5 speed manual – listed at $17K.  The rest are equipped with the 2.5L engine coupled to an automatic transmission.
     
    Seeing that the Jetta will most likely sell for 20K on up, I went over to a local Toyota dealer’s web site to look at low end Camrys.  Out of a Camry inventory of 85 vehicles, all of them with automatic transmissions, they have 5 units equipped with a 2.5L that are listed after rebates at 19K.
     
    I’ve owned 6 VWs in my lifetime, but even so, a boring, long on tooth, budget Toyota Camry looks to be a better option.  The main reason fewer dealer visits during the warranty period
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Oh………by the way, I don’t do automatics unless they are a rental, which is very limiting these days, because of the few number of vehicles available with a row your own gear box.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I rented a 2011 Camry with the 2.5/6-speed auto combo. I’m also a manual driver when it comes to my own cars, but that was the best automatic drivetrain I’ve ever driven. Better than a family E36 M50. Better than my mother’s previous Porsche. Better than the W124 300E I used to drive, or the Lexus SC400 I had a as a company car. Better than my beloved old Torqueflite Mopars, though it pains me to concede it. As for the rest of the car, it was a throwback to when German sedans were the best in the mid ’80s. It drove with a lightness missing in all BMWs and Mercedes of the past decade, and with a structure that recalls the old 901 Porsche coupes. Remarkable. I still won’t buy a car with an automatic and soft rebound damping.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Funny… I rented that exact same Camry when I was in VA last month, and I had a completely different take.  I HATED that car, the driving experience was total crap.  I felt like I was driving a late 90s Buick.  The car was ponderous, floaty, way too much throttle tip in and not enough real power, sight lines were horrible and the transmission couldn’t downshift just one gear, I either got “way too slow” or “way to fast”.  Not to mention the cheesy silver plastic interior trim was crap, the controls felt cheap, the lighting and displays were like an 80s boombox, the seats were squishy, immense, and utterly useless for driving… but nice for a living room.  To top it off, it looks like pregnant beached whale.

      I own an MK5 GTI, I love my car.  So much more fun to drive.  But I would never buy this Jetta, so no VW cheerleading here.  I hate what they are doing to the brand with this styling direction.  But I would NEVER buy a Camry, never.  Right now, no Toyota fits the bill of a sports sedan.  Honda too, no Accord either, for most of the same reasons I hated that Camry.  I would go for a Mazda… much more fun to drive and very overlooked in the market.  You can get great deals.  Mazda6 or Mazda3, you cant go wrong.  The Ford Fusion is surprisingly fun to drive too… being related to the Mazda6 makes sense.  You should check those out too… talk about screaming deals too.

  • avatar

    Shouldn’t we put the interior in perspective, though? The materials are no worse than any Corolla or Civic, the obvious segment benchmarks in terms of volume sales (and yes, VW’s goal in N. America is volume sales). So yes, materials are at near parity with a Civic, but I’d still argue that the Corolla (and Matrix/xB/xA/etc.) have poorer material quality and fitment. And even if one could argue that the quality of materials is the same, nobody can argue that the styling and ergonomics of the Jetta is clearly superior. It just flat out looks better and more upscale, than both of those Japanese cars. I’m as sad as the next guy that the quality has been cheapened (but the GLI will have upgraded trim), but this seems to be more of a case of VW vehicles behind held to a higher standard than the Japanese competition.

    Do you recall the outcry from writers across the world, including America, when the MKV Golf/jetta was released – they harped on the car for having inferior quality from the MKIV, yet it was still easily best in class. It’s now not only until it is gone that interior is missed for how great it was. It truly shamed Camrys and Accords of our time, let alone other compact cars.

    So look, let’s move on to the small details of the interior that I still see no reviewers talking about. Take the hefty doors – they still shut with a German/VW thud that no Corolla or Civic can ever achieve. Why is it that this is not talked about? Everyone harps on the hardness of the door panels (which, I may add, are just as “hard” as the lower door panels in any Camry or even Lexus RX) but nobody talks about the actual structure of the vehicle, which feels better build than any car in this class, let alone the next class up. So German solidness is still there, even if materials are downgraded.

    what is also still there are small touches, like 4 fully automatic windows (without the cheesy Japanese “ALL AUTO” readout on every window, again something the press or reviewers never call out for what it is), a fully automatic sunroof with a lighted twisting dial that is a wonder of ergonomic efficiency (a VW feature from a decade ago that has just been copied by Toyota for use in their Lexus products [which they still don\'t believe needs night time lighting illumination, again never called out by the press]). You also get two LEDs peering down on you at night, a feature the Corolla doesn’t have to the best of my knowledge. What about the way the sun visor mirrors work? Yes, the trunk of downgraded, but the trunk still shuts more reassuringly than any Corolla. And I know it may seem gimmicky, but does any Corolla or Civic have a quality feeling switchblade key that the Jetta has always had? It now incorporates the “Kessy” keyless go system, which is fully capacitive on the door handle (unlike even a Lexus LS, which has a physical lock nudge). Overall, the car still feels more German sophisticated than any Corolla or Civic, yet this is not talked about.
     
    And as for the styling, I think the car looks quite good in the larger wheels in SEL sport spec trim. Definitely appears more upscale than other vehicles in it’s class. The vehicle looks more manly parked next to an older, more “bulbous” MKV spec car. It’s easy to take the midlevel trim and pound on it for looking bland and unassuming, but again, is anybody going to argue a Corolla looks better? That car looks like a sad interpretation of a cartoon character. At least the Jetta is simple, will age well (tell that to the Elantra), and is clean and has an edge of sophistication. It’s always funny to me that this new Jetta is bland/ugly, but the Audi A4 isn’t, which really, has a lot of the same lines (both from De Silva). Yeah, throw a set of small wheels on an A4 and I’m sure it wouldn’t look as good then either.
     
    i apologize for the long winded response, I hope I can just put some things here in perspective.
     
    Good day!
     

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I see early ’90s Corollas on the road all of the time. There are still a few early 2000s Jettas. A few.

    • 0 avatar
      RGS920

      You would be justified in making the comparison to the Corolla and Civic if this was a year ago.  This car now has to compete with the Hyundai Elantra, Chevy Cruze and Ford Focus.  All three of which have upped the game to the point where the Jetta’s interior looks destined for rental fleet glory.  The Corolla isn’t even worth comparing now because of toyota’s failure to provide a meaningful refresh to keep it in line with competitors.  I also wouldn’t bother comparing the Jetta to the Civic until you get a chance to see the new generation Civic Honda is coming out with.  

      Mind you the Corolla sells the way it does because of percieved reliability.  I don’t think many people associate VW with reliability.  People do associate VW and Audi (Especially Audi) with having the best interiors in the business.  I think that VW’s decision to bring the Jetta down market while it’s competitors are moving upscale won’t help VW’s image.       

    • 0 avatar

      The part of the door panel that really matters is the bit next to your elbow, not the lower door panel which is hard in just about any car under $50,000, and more than a few above that mark. A padded trim panel in the upper door does a lot to enhance the ambiance of an interior, and even my decidedly cheap Mazda Protege5 has one.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      +1 on the small details. They can make or break a car for me too.

    • 0 avatar
      jplew138

      Actually, my old 1995 Geo Prizm had far better interior materials than the present Jetta, and so did the Corolla of that same period. For as much as these cars cost (and no matter what anyone says, $24-$30k is still a lot of money), the interiors should be much better than they are. No excuses.

  • avatar
    windnsea00

    It’s funny how the Jetta has become a player in the rental car world, hard to imagine that 10 years ago. I am curious the amount of 2.0 gas models that are being sold, that is a seriously lethargic engine.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    i actually kinda like this car.  None of the compacts on the market are truly anything special.  People complain about the Corolla, but it was always dishwater dull.  The Honda Civic is currently the biggest sinner in the segment, since it really was a cut above once.  The new Elantra and Forte aren’t bad, but they’re still Korean econoboxes with zero prestige…they still scream Walmart.  Same goes for the Cruze.  And we’ll see about the new Focus.
     
    Is the new Jetta worse than the old one?  Probably.  But at least it’s German.  It still has some character, unlike anything from Korea or Japan.  And I’m shallow, so I’d feel better about driving a cheapo German car than a nice Korean car.

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    When I first started reading the story and I read, “Jetta’s interior is styled much like that of the previous car, but finished with all-too-obviously lower grade materials,” my first thought was, “well someone has to keep those parts suppliers for the Chevy Cobalt in business.”

    Funny how later in the story it was brought up how GM benchmarked the old Jetta, while apparently VW benchmarked the Cobalt.

    And with the two point slow giving 24/34 MPG with less HP and torque than the 1.8 under the hood of the Cruze, again I have to ask, the Cruze has bad MPG compared to what exactly?

    The more I read about the cars in this segment, and based on the growing sales numbers and inventory turn numbers, it sounds like GM got the Cruze very right.  We’ll see how Ford fairs with the 2012 Focus and Honda with the 2012 Civic.  It seems Hyundai still needs some refinement work on the Elantra; but that is low hanging fruit for the most part.

  • avatar

    VW only makes two cars I like. The Reventon and the Veyron.  Everything else, I wouldn’t want if they gave it to me free.

  • avatar
    Scottdb

    Two point Slow.  There, I just wanted to say it so I could feel cool, too.

  • avatar
    mpresley

    The new Jetta, advertised at 15, will likely sell for 20+ large?  Yet VW is now claiming their bigger and brighter Passat will start “at about twenty.”  In their race to the bottom the boys at Wolfsburg America seem intent on becoming the new Chevy–or maybe the new Chrysler.  Stack ‘em high and watch ‘em fly; stack ‘em deep and sell ‘em cheap.
     
    The few I’ve seen around town are not good looking, just as they are not bad looking.  Instead, they don’t look at all.  The interior is low-rent?  A colleague recently bought a bottomed-out Camry for about 20 large.  I was shocked at how miserable its interior was, so I’m guessing the Corrolla is more of the same?  But when cheapness is the selling feature, who in America will buy a 20K Jetta over a Toyota?  Just like Han Solo, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Why does everyone complain about the VW 2.0. This is a simple engine that with a little care will go 200,000 miles. Had the same engine in my 1998 Jetta and put on over 160,000 miles. Only had to change the oil, filters, dist cap, rotor and spark plugs. Have the 1.8 in my 1991 Cabriolet and that engine is bullet proof. Always starts can drive all day at 75-80 MPH and can enter the parkways with no trouble at all.   Over the years i have learned the more simple the design the longer it lasts. When i buy all my appliances now i ask for the basic item. I learned in the past the more so called special items the more trouble you have. Hell if i could i would buy manual windows in my next car. Come to think of it a car radio with 2 knobs, dial & 5 buttons would also be great.    

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I agree the 2.0 was very reliable and durable.  I had one in a ’95 Golf that lasted well past 300K.
       
      I guess if VW wants to build a reputation as cheap and reliable that engine is the way to go.  But in terms of performance/fuel economy that engine was dated in 1995, and is an eternity behind the competition now.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      While reliable, imagine the ruckus on the car blogs – if Ford decided to use the first generation Focus base engine on its lowest priced 2012 Focus to lower the entry level price point.  That engine was comparable to the 2.0L VW in discussion, cast iron block, single cam, 8 valves, no VVT.
       
      Simplicity has one virtue, the cost of future repairs are less expensive, but it comes with a performance penalty that also affects gas mileage.  A 24/34 mileage rating was downright respectable a decade ago.
       
      A on the other hand 2012 base Focus sedan will use direct injection, dual cam, 16 cam with VVT.  It will have mileage numbers of 28/38 mpg – along with 160 hp / 146 ft./lbs on tap and a sticker price that is $1,000 less before Ford offers any incentives.
       

    • 0 avatar
      vbofw

      Here’s the thing with the 2.0 — it’s reflected in the price!  VW is giving you 3 engine options, all priced accordingly.  They obviously underestimated the complaining, amateur car-reviewer populace that would try and extrapolate a cheap engine that few will buy, to the whole lineup.

    • 0 avatar
      erik_t

      Everyone complains because power for power’s sake is one of the driving factors (no pun intended) in car sales right now. Don’t ask me why a Caravan needs 280hp – I don’t know either. That’s a 20% better power-to-weight ratio than the first two generations of Miata, for God’s sakes.
       
      This is where hybridization will be a great thing: electric motors have a much more forgiving power-to-efficiency curve, and 90% of users will never care that they can only run at maximum power for 30sec. Then we can go back to base-plant internal combustion engines that are of sensible output, and a capacitor bank for everyone’s manhood-measuring contests.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      The 2.0 is an adequate engine for many people.  I know many females who wouldn’t use the full power of that engine even once during the life of the vehicle.

  • avatar
    Mach

    I don’t understand the poor perception of the 2.0 either.  It really doesn’t turn me off, but I happen to own a 2002 civic with the D17 mentioned above, and while it’s certainly not sporty, it does just fine for what it is: a commuter car engine.  Just comparing the horsepower numbers doesn’t get you anywhere however.  The civic makes 115 HP at 6100 rpm, the VW makes the same at 5200.  The civic makes 110 lb-ft of torque at 4500 while the VW makes 125 at 4000.  Doing the napkin math on this, it looks like the two are roughly comparable once you figure in the weights.  But the one is 8-9 years old and frankly has a terrible interior and s**t suspension, while the other is brand new with what looks to me like a pretty nice interior and what sounds like a good suspension.  I need to get down to the VW dealer and see for myself, but the new Jetta looks like a car I might be pretty happy with to replace the old civic.

  • avatar

    The previous post about quality and price regarding this new Jetta and the Corolla is spot on. People buy Corolla’s because of perceived quality, this is exactly and basically the only reason why I bought one three years ago. Being a 60-mile daily commuter to college, a Corolla makes sense. But given this new Jetta, all it appears to be is a Corolla with a better suspension and questionable reliability. With a plant being built in Tennessee couldn’t their quality remain close to the same while dropping the price? Seems to be they are now competing with last-gen corolla’s and civics sometime around 2003.
    Question: Is it crazy for a person to go from a Corolla with 70,000 miles of absolutely no problems what-so-ever to a VW GTI? Just a question for those who feel inclined to answer… trade reliability for the sake of drivability?

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      No. Life is too short for dull cars.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      Tyler: It would be crazy not to.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      “Question: Is it crazy for a person to go from a Corolla with 70,000 miles of absolutely no problems what-so-ever to a VW GTI? Just a question for those who feel inclined to answer… trade reliability for the sake of drivability?”

      Who says you can’t have reliability and fun? Get a slightly used Acura TSX, a Mazdaspeed 6 or a Subaru Legacy GT. While none of these cars are perfect, they’ll be way better than a VW GTI (surf over to VWvortex.com and read about high pressure fuel pump problems, DSG transmissions failing at relatively low mileage, etc).
       
      Now cue the VW apologists.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Allow me to second Sam P’s comments. A friend bought a new 2008 GTI DSG less than a year after I got my 2007 Civic Si sedan. My car has had oil changes, tire rotations, and finally a new set of tires a couple weeks ago. It is still my daily driver at my primary home. His car has tested the limits of its warranty, requires transmission maintenances that each cost more than I’ve spent on upkeep for my Honda, has steering issues the dealer can’t fix that led to a lawsuit, and has generally been as reliable as a TR-7. It spent most of 2010 off the road while he fought to have VW buy it back. On top of all that, it drives like a 3,200 lb tank with shock setting chosen to make fashionistas happy with low profile tires. Chances are that putting a set of Konis and tires with stiff sidewalls on your Corolla would make it more fun to drive anywhere but a dragstrip.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Allow me to second Sam P’s comments. A friend bought a new 2008 GTI DSG less than a year after I got my 2007 Civic Si sedan. My car has had oil changes, tire rotations, and finally a new set of tires a couple weeks ago. It is still my daily driver at my primary home. His car has tested the limits of its warranty, requires transmission maintenances that each cost more than I’ve spent on upkeep for my Honda, has steering issues the dealer can’t fix that led to a lawsuit, and has generally been as reliable as a TR-7. It spent most of 2010 off the road while he fought to have VW buy it back. On top of all that, it drives like a 3,200 lb tank with shock setting chosen to make fashionistas happy with low profile tires. Chances are that putting a set of Konis and tires with stiff sidewalls on your Corolla would make it more fun to drive anywhere but a dragstrip.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Yes, its crazy… thats too long of a commute for a GTI.  They are delicate, thats for sure.

      But CJ, I have a 2008 GTI DSG, and I cross-shopped the Si sedan.  The GTI DSG isnt known for terrible reliability, even with high miles.  Some people have reported problems, but the vast majority of them have “chipped” them.  There hasnt been that many with high enough miles to know for sure how they will be.  I researched them a lot.  Yes, the tranny maintenance interval is short and the cost is high.  I got my first for free… my second I will be doing myself.  And The Si was fun, but not the same drive as the GTI.  It was too slow, too peaky, and not a tight enough suspension.  Also, the many used ones I looked at didnt age well, I saw a lot of issues with the interior quality… not so with the used GTIs.

      Dont get me wrong, you cannot go wrong with reliability in a Honda, I have no doubt yours will give you a decade of troublefree service.  But its not nearly as fun to drive as the GTI around town… maybe on a track where you can really use the peaky engine, but not around town.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Different definitions of fun I suppose. When I hear someone complain that a Honda is too peaky, I say go ahead and get an automatic transmission. If you don’t enjoy shifting gears and keeping an engine in its power band, there are hundreds of appliances on the market, even ones with designer interiors for people who read Ask Men magazine and know how to admire other guys’ forms. A DSG may use different technology than a conventional automatic, but it requires exactly the same skillset and effort level of its driver so mission accomplished.

      My friend fell out of love with his GTI DSG as soon as he started using it to commute on the I5 freeway. He thought it porpoised too much on San Diego’s less than smooth roads and immediately started investigating trading it in on a used E60, but he was hopelessly upside down on his auto loan in spite of having traded in his 7 year old BMW. A look at value guides says that miraculously my friend’s car has a used car value a grand greater than my Civic’s. Mind you my Civic is a year older and he paid ten grand more than I did while taking a bath on his trade in. Beyond all that, no dealer will actually give him more than $9,000 on his 50 or 60 thousand mile GTI, and a private sale will be difficult with the bizarro steering column shake and rattle that the dealer and VW can’t resolve and that the dealer claimed was a loose catalytic converter heatshied for 2 years. Why they couldn’t resolve a “loose heatshield” on what was a new car when the problem popped up is the stuff of dealership legend. Carmax will give me considerably more than $9k for my Si than that even if I don’t buy one of their cars, but I plan on keeping the Civic for the foreseeable future. The next car I have to get rid of is the last BMW in the fleet. Sadly, it isn’t worth as much as a meticulously maintained, bone stock, 93K mile Honda would be. For good reason too, as anyone who wants an inexpensive used car won’t be able to afford to repair and maintain it.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      CJ, dont take it so personally, I think the Si is a fine car, it was a tough choice.  I have always been a Honda fan, and my wife loved the Si over the GTI.  Actually, that was part of my reasoning… if I bought the car she loved, it wouldnt be mine for much longer.

      What I said was, not as fun AROUND TOWN, not that it isnt fun.  My problem with the Si was mostly that I had to hit 40mph in 1st gear before the power kicked in… under about 5k, it drove like a base model Civic.  Since I drive almost exclusively around town, that just took away from the fun.  The GTI has tons of low end grunt, but lacking a bit in the high end.  Plus, I happened to enjoy the taut suspension and handling feel over that of the Si, it just felt right to me.

      BTW, the DSG is not an automatic.  Its a manual… inside the case its very similar to the standard VW 6-speed, with the automated clutch sandwiched in.  There are many times I miss my “real” stick shift, but I chose the DSG because I do drive around town a lot, and the DSG gives me the best of both worlds.  It is also a bit faster 0-60 than the manual.  I hate the off-the-line delay, but when I am sitting in traffic I dont miss the clutch.  Plus, my wife’s car is and will always be a stick, so I can always drive one if I want.

      Sounds like your friend got a bad one.  Mine is a 2008 also, and it has no strange vibrations aside from a balance issue when I first got some new tires – now resolved.  The dealers suck ass… definitely.  But so do Honda dealers, you just dont have to see them as often LOL.  I do not go to dealers unless I have a warranty concern… otherwise I do work myself or use a trusted mechanic friend of mine.  I also didnt buy it new, which is stupid, because the pricing is crazy.  I am not any more upside down in it than I would be had a bought a new Civic.

      I figure if I keep it maintained and do work myself, the ownership costs wont be too bad and I will enjoy my choice… I plan to keep this car for a long time.  But, if things go horribly wrong, I will be kicking myself for not choosing the Honda when I had the chance.  But for now, I really do enjoy the feel when the turbo kicks in.  :)

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for all the replies guys, I will defiantly use them toward my decision. Looking at True Delta reliability for the GTI, seems that they vastly improve after the first year.
      I must say after being able to test drive a GTI for practically an hour today (with no pesky salesman riding with me) It is a brilliant car in both it’s handling, power, and especially its fit and finish (soft-touch plastic, thought it was extinct).
      I will probably drive my Corolla well until I find a desirable job after graduation in May, then depending on my drive and situation look seriously at attaining a hot hatch.
      Okay guys, go back to talking about the Jetta, lol.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Good call Tyler, get your life settled then go for the toys.  I love my GTI, so its not like you can go wrong… just be aware of what you are getting into with a VW.  Its the kind of car you need to love to deal with the potential issues.  Definitely not an “appliance” like the Toyota.  But the Si, MS3, Gen coupe, Mustang GT, etc are all good cars too.

      I would also suggest checking out the Golf TDI.  The 2-dr model now has the GTI seats and 17″ wheels, and it looks very similar on the outside.  I have heard they also have a sport tuned suspension that is close to the GTI without the harshness.  But they get 40mpg, while still being peppy and fun.  A couple grand cheaper than the GTI as well.  I kind of wish I had gone that route…  :)

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I have a GTI too, and it’s an awesome car.  But there’s no question it will cost more to operate than a Corolla – just it’s diet of premium fuel, synthetic oil, performance tires and brakes will cost more.  I’m happy to pay the cost, but I’m not a student anymore.

  • avatar
    WRohrl

    While perhaps being made of cheap, hard materials, the interior (in the pictures at least) looks attractive.  The recent cheap interiors from Detroit that were alluded to looked horribly from a design standpoint as well as being made of cheap, not matching in shade, grain, gloss etc.  If the interior is at least durable, and if it looks attractive, I think it will stand the test of time…There is not much that looks worse (to my eyes) that virtually any Audi, BMW, VW etc. of the last 10 years or so where the soft touch stuff is peeling off.  It looked and felt great in the showroom but after a few years of wear…If I am sitting in the interior driving the car I am not busy caressing and probing the dashboard or rubbing myself over the doorpanels.  If it looks OK visually, it’s fine.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      The ’05-06 VW Jetta had “soft touch” radio buttons that peeled off.  They changed to what looked like a brushed aluminum button shortly therafter.  You’d think that a car manufacturer would know not to do this from the get-go.  And what about all those acrylic headlight covers (on every make) that fog up after a few years?  Unbelievable.

    • 0 avatar
      vbofw

      “And what about all those acrylic headlight covers (on every make) that fog up after a few years?  Unbelievable.”
       
      Take them to the dealer or a detail shop for a wet-sand.  Can DIY too, but it seems like a pain in the arse.  I took my highway warrior MKIV in (160k all highway = lots of small dings on the headlight covers, consequently headlights were totally fogged-out)…..and for $99 they are sparkling new, again.  Hopefully for another 150k.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Or just keep them waxed and park indoors… they last much longer that way…

  • avatar

    If you buy a car for look an feel thrn the cheap plastic interior will be a turn off.  If drivability is your thing then you can probably live with the cheap plastics.  I am actually surprised by the favorable review.
     
    As far as the 2.slow goes I drive a Mk IV TDI/5 speed. It’s performance is about the same.  I will go head to head on a mountain road with a Mazda 3 or a Focus SES and beat them like a drum.  Back in my childhood 0-60 in 10 sec was the standard and in the US 80 mph is about as fast as you can go anyway.  The 2.0 is just fine for most drivers.

  • avatar

    Great review And Comments.
     
    Again: sad about Hyundai/Kia’s dampers & steering.
    *After JB’s review, I can’t believe I am actually considering a UAW-built car in the Focus!!!
     
    @mpresley: “It doesn’t look at all”  VERY funny and well said!
     
    @Cabriolet et. al: The problem with the 2.slow is that everyone else has been doing more powerful base engines with 4-valve heads and VVT that don’t eat Timing Belts and bend valves for quite some time now.
    -They also do not have the problem of VW’s Near-Superstitious Fear re displacements larger than .5L/cyl.
     
    +Those peppier engines are Quite handy when you have to get onto a sketchy highway or two and don’t exactly want to drug, kidnap, beat and gang-rape the engine in order to get the car up to speed in time;
    enough to avoid dying on Route 17 during business hours.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      +Those peppier engines are Quite handy when you have to get onto a sketchy highway or two and don’t exactly want to drug, kidnap, beat and gang-rape the engine in order to get the car up to speed in time

      I used to do that to the Iron Duke in my 1982 Celebrity all the time.  I think when my father finally sold it to my cousin, who sold it to a guy who took it to a demo derby… that was a merciful death for the old girl. 

  • avatar

    Fantastic review of what seems to be a fantastic car. Luckily for me my local dealership is both a VW and a Ford dealership….side by side comparisons of the Golf/GTI and 5-door focus…bring it on!

  • avatar
    wmba

    I’m really not impressed with Asian vehicle ride and handling. It’s pretty dire stuff, and I own a Legacy GT, which I would say is OK and no more in the R/H department. My brother’s G37? Too taut and who can tell if the suspension is under or overdamped with springs that hard – not even within a mile of a BMW. Hyundai/Kia? Well, they’re not there yet.

    Just went for another short trip in my boss’s new Golf TDi wagon at lunchtime. Wonderful ride, nippy around the corners and you can’t really tell it’s a diesel from inside. Hell, it’s much better than my car in almost every way except outright traction, horsepower and the quality of the headliner. And the VWs are relatively cheap for what you get. At least on the surface.

    My only hangup is this reliability issue thing with VWs. If VW wasn’t run by a megalomaniac, and if Germans could actually admit being wrong, which seems to go against their grain (and I refuse to be lectured by those people as 20 years of Audi ownership put me in frequent conflict with some amazing know-it-all service managers), I’d have a Vee Dub in a minute.

    That’s MY hangup with all German cars. Two friends with BMWs (135i and 335ix) show what ludicrous disasters these vehicles are. Ride and handling? Top rate. Dealer visits? Bottom of the rung. Leaking brake calipers on the 135i and spare ones have taken months to get, that fuel pump issue on the 335. Groan.

    The Legacy GT starts up and runs every day, has a thrilling engine, rides MUCH better than an AWD G37x, and seems reliable (I’m on True Delta), so I don’t suppose I’ll be buying a VW soon. I just wish the Japanese, in particular, showed that they had some idea how to really design decent suspension. So far, I haven’t seen any indication that they really have a clue. But they sure can screw a car together properly.

    • 0 avatar
      PJ McCombs

      My response to the German vs Asian debate would be ‘meh’, on balance. BMW builds the most beautifully-damped chassis on Earth, and Audi’s got a couple of good ones (R8, the RS cars), but most Audis are jittery-riding and understeery, most VWs are pillow-soft, and most Mercedes are like slightly athletic Buicks in their conservatism.

      The best cars from Japanese brands (370Z, G37, Evo, RX-8, etc) might only be 80% as developed as Germany’s best, but they’re better than at least 80% of Germany’s mediocre offerings. IMHO, most of the appeal of most German cars is style and image these days.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I don’t usually do this, but I would love to see a TTAC group review of this segment. Is the Corolla as horrible as I remember? is the Forte really good value driven back to back with it’s peers? Is any of the Jetta angst justified if you’ve just been driving it’s price competitors? It’s turned into a frequent subject of debate around here hasn’t it?
     
    I’d say put the target price somewhere in the low 20’s b/c you know most readers will get a nicer car slightly used around here, base models are largely irrelevant and hard to find regardless.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Quote:
    In the end, we have one thing that Americans value and the Jetta unquestionably delivers: rear seat legroom. Is this enough? Unless people are simply drawn to the idea (if not so much the actuality) of a $15,000 German-engineered car, apparently so—Jetta sales are way up this year.

    Further proof, if needed, that most buyers are not at all car enthusiasts and could really care less about what they drive. Just look at the Toyota Carolla as an example. People keep buying them out of default rather then desire as much better choices are available elsewhere.

  • avatar

    After sitting in one at 9:30PM on a Tuesday Night (in order to avoid the Salesmen), I found the interior, German-styled, materials a bit cheaper than the previous generation, but fit was very good. Although I haven’t driven one, for a $20,000 car I think I would be happy sitting in it, at least.

  • avatar
    Keb

    I have owned 6 different Vw’s or Audi’s.
    The 86 Turbo Quattro wagon lasted me 10 years and about 85000 miles before I sold it to have airbags. The time the electric seat adjustment quit all the way forward, and (in 96) the dealer asked $400 bucks for the bad chip plus labor, that was the end. Too bad as it could cruise at 32 MPG in 5th.

    But after a TDI Jetta experience, I have a RULE.

    Only own a VW if you are sure you can sell it to somebody else at a year left on the warranty.

    But that means you are always up on the depreciation curve…so it basically means buy a Kia/Honda/Nissan/Toyota.

  • avatar
    Chevyredneck83

    Having just got back from a trip to Germany and Northern Italy I have a solid respect for VW. We rode in my buddies 5speed 115 hp 1990 VW Golf up and down the alps (His car was basic in all regards but solid). I can say that the new Jetta SE and S that i tested are more Euro style the any car i seen in the USA so far. We expect high end here but its not that way in Europe. When i say Euro I mean its Simple yet Effective in all regards. Im in the market for a 2011 new car and have tested the Cruz Lt and Ltz(To expensive with anything nice in it/Crappy engine for weight of car. Euro styling and build feel though), Chrysler 200(Base car felt cheap and no power), Fiat 500 (not sure what to think of this car yet), And last today i will test the car i want the least, The Hyndai Elantra(my roomie swears by this car. But i can see that the one thats local is more then the Jetta and what i can see its not as good a car as all the hype seems to say. I think across the board VW built a solid EURO inspired car that works for VW in Europe and i think will work for them here. I will say the 4 pot doesnt work for the cars weight and the fuel use should be better. But in truth the whole 40MPG is BS it all in how you drive and your location. Thats my 2 cents lol

  • avatar
    undertaker2014

    Once you own a German rear wheel drive for example BMW you can get inside any other car don’t matter how new it can be if it’s a front wheel drive it makes you feel some type of way,you Are going to feel powerless. That’s why I love BMW’s they are for sure the ultimate driving machine.


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