For years, my wife and I have enjoyed the carefree enjoyment of running around without a care in the world. Then we had a baby, who is soon going to go from an only child to a big sister. The wife has owned the same car that she bought new when she graduated college: 2000 Honda Insight. Regardless of which side of the hybrid fence you are on, as a car guy, this car continues to amaze me with almost 230,000 miles and no major problems. I have on the other hand gone through a few more cars: Saab 9000, Saab SPG, Ford Bronco, VW Jetta, Nissan X-Terra. My current ride is the X-Terra chiefly bought so I could arrive on muddy construction sites and be taken a little more seriously than my European sports car driving bosses.
What lies beneath the vaguely Alfa-Romeo-like styling of the FAW Besturn B30? Here’s a hint: it’s the car that China refuses to let die. Still don’t know? Well, believe it or not, there’s a Mk. II Jetta under that sharply-creased sheetmetal, as China’s car industry seeks new ways to keep flogging the same 30-year-old German iron. Because, if it ain’t broke…
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.
Notice a difference between these two pictures? No, not the fact that one is a sexy press shot and the other is a bush-league amateur snap. Both pictures show the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, but one of them has a torsion beam rear axle, the other has a variation of the Golf’s multilink setup. One has a 2.5 liter blunt instrument of an engine and a slushbox, the other has a high-tech “twincharger” engine that won the International Engine Of The Year award two years running, mated to a dual-clutch ‘box. One has a nasty, plasticky interior, the other offers “higher quality materials and trim.” By now you’ve probably guessed that the less desirable of these two Jettas is the US version, and the fancy-pants version has just been announced for the European market… (Read More…)
As The Wall Street Journal‘s Dan Neil explains, pedestrians aren’t just annoying, they’re also responsible (in part) for some of the most astonishingly dull designs in all of autodom… like the 2011 VW Jetta. Trends towards rising beltlines, strangely high hoods, reduced visibility, and general carved-from-cheese-ishness in automotive design can all be tied to European pedestrian crash test standards. With a little help from unimaginative designers, global product strategies and consumer apathy, of course.
Just how American is the new Volkswagen Jetta? When a German car company comes out with a new car, they usually release it in Germany first, so the Teutonic car bible Auto Motor und Sport can run a big multi-page review in the front of the magazine. Not only was the 2011 Jetta launched in the US, but the latest issue of AM und S carried only a half-page mini-review. In the final paragraph, the buff book explains that smaller gas engines and a variety of diesels should be available for Germany, and that
Here [in Germany], the comfortable Jetta will get a higher-quality appointments/equipment (hochwertigere Ausstattung) as well as a multi-link rear suspension.
The hochwertigere Ausstattung line is (purposefully?) vague, and could mean that the German-market Jetta will get a better-quality interior (as implied by the caption “US version with hard plastic and simple instruments”) or that it will simply come with a higher equipment level. In any case, don’t expect the German market to be thrilled by the version that we drove. Or that VW’s “Das Auto” tagline means much of anything to our Mexican-built Jetta.
In spite of its name and the fact that it’s the one of the largest automakers in the world, Americans tend to see Volkswagen as something of a niche manufacturer. Certainly Volkswagen’s reputation in this country is for making cars that conform to our ideas of “European-ness.” Unfortunately for Volkswagen, relatively few Americans want to spend extra for the taut suspension, high-quality interior and refined ambiance of a European car. So, with the 2011 Jetta, Volkswagen decided to give America what it was asking for: more car for less. Sounds hard to resist, right?
It’s all speculation until we get official pricing from VW of North America, but according to Autoblog, the new Jetta will be priced starting “around $16,000″ when it shows up stateside this October. With Chevy’s Cruze starting at $16,995, we face an interesting prospect: VW’s entry sedan might well be cheaper than Chevrolet’s. Of course the base Jetta will continue to be saddled with its predecessor’s agricultural 2.5 liter, but the Cruze’s base 1.8 hasn’t exactly earned many accolades either. Of course the base Cruze comes with a goodly amount of equipment, but it’s got an uphill fight on its hands if the more desirably-branded Jetta pips it on pure price point.
Apparently these press images were embargoed until tomorrow… and yet here they are. But who, you might ask, would risk being boarded by Volkswagen commandos in order to deliver these images to the huddled masses, yearning for a a glimpse of the new blandness? Oh right, it says Auto Express on the picture. According to the embargo-running Brits, this is the first Jetta to be more than a Golf with a trunk: thanks to VW’s new modular architecture, the wheelbase has been extended for more rear-seat legroom. More details when Volkswagen is good and ready, likely sometime tomorrow.
You might need to click through to the gallery to fully grasp the stunning blandness of its New Coupe Concept, which just debuted at the NAIAS. Volkswagen has said again and again that it plans to take over the American market by screwing its loyal followers and selling out for mainstream appeal. The NCC is the apathy-osis of this philosophy, showing an approach to the sports coupe genre that makes the business of car look like a less glamorous offshoot of the packing materials industry. It’s a hybrid. It’s a “poor man’s A5.” It’s a dust bunny to the Scirocco‘s sandstorm. Most of all though, it’s a sign of how misguided VW’s approach to the US market really is.