Ace of Base: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta S

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
ace of base 2019 volkswagen jetta s

Our man Healey sampled the latest Jetta not long ago, finding it to be a conservative box that has left most of the sporty spunk to its Golf cousin. VW’s MQB platform knows no bounds.

Of the five trims available, the base S has potential to sit at the Ace of Base table. After all, no matter how much ones spends on a 2019 Jetta, one will – right now, at least – find the same engine under its hood. The only trim on which a stick shift appears? The base S. Achtung!

Let’s find out what else is on board.

An automatic is available for $800, of course, but the true Ace of Base shopper will not even acknowledge its existence. Also to be left on the cutting room floor is the $450 Driver Assistance Package that bundles some safety nannies with heated side mirrors. The latter is a feature I am slightly disappointed to learn is not included on the base machine.

That engine – the only engine – is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four, making 147 horses and 184 lb.-ft of torque. Our correspondent found it to be “loud and trashy in the upper rev ranges,” long a hallmark of high-strung, low-displacement mills. I was pleased to read the base prototype offered a good clutch feel and woke up the 1.4L a little bit.

Other standard equipment on the S include natty LED lighting front and rear (hooray for economies of scale), 16-inch alloy wheels, and a carload of airbags. Germans love acronyms, so I am pleased to report that ESC, ASR, EDL, EBA, ABS, HBA, EBD, ICRS, and TPMS are all included with the base trim.

Air conditioning makes an appearance, along with cruise control and a driver’s seat that adjusts six ways. Infotainment, sometimes a low point on base VWs of yesteryear, now features a 6.5-inch touchscreen serving up Bluetooth connectivity and a rearview camera. One of the last industry holdouts, VW added a USB port to its machines not long ago; it shows up here, too.

EPA fuel economy ratings are a remarkable 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway. Only the spicy Habanero Orange paint costs extra; the other six hues are offered gratis. It is pleasant to find bright colors on a base car when so many manufacturers penalize thrifty shoppers by restricting them to the greyscale. Blue Silk shown here is especially attractive, as is the Tornado Red in Tim’s review.

I am still getting used to the styling choices, as the new Jetta’s face appears to have an overbite or something going on. I’ll reserve final judgement until I see one in person.

Heated mirrors would make the $18,545 2019 Jetta S a shoo-in for Ace of Base honors. As it stands, your author would probably spring for the R-Line trim – a $4,000 walk. Actually, no. Who am I kidding? For that coin, I’d go for the Golf SportWagen … in base S, of course.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars absent of any rebates or destination fees. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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2 of 31 comments
  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Apr 25, 2018

    When I look at the '19 Jetta, that heavy character line at the door handles just JUMPS out at me. I had a neighbor back in the 90s who was the paint rep at the Chrysler plant in Fenton MO. I think he worked for PPG but I won't swear to it. He said they had a terrible time getting pain on the side of the vans starting with the 2001 models..the heavy line down the side was a bear to make the robots paint properly, especially the 3 stage pearl white.

  • Fred Fred on Apr 25, 2018

    I've driven for 50 years without heated side mirrors but as I get older and more feeble some of those nannies might save me or even you.

  • SCE to AUX Toyota the follower, as usual. It will be 5 years before such a vehicle is available.I can't think of anything innovative from them since the Gen 1 Prius. Even their mythical solid state battery remains vaporware.They look like pre-2009 General Motors. They could fall hard.
  • Chris P Bacon I've always liked the looks of the Clubman, especially the original model. But like a few others here, I've had the Countryman as a rental, and for the price point, I couldn't see spending my own money on one. Maybe with a stick it would be a little more fun, but that 3 cylinder engine just couldn't provide the kick I expected.
  • EBFlex Recall number 13 for the 2020 Explorer and the 2020 MKExplorer.
  • CEastwood Every time something like this is mentioned it almost never happens because the auto maker is afraid of it taking sales away from an existing model - the Tacoma in this instance . It's why VW never brought the Scirrocco and Polo stateside fearful of losing Golf sales .
  • Bca65698966 V6 Accord owner here. The VTEC crossover is definitely a thing, especially after I got a performance tune for the car. The loss of VTEC will probably result in a slower vehicle overall for one reason: power under the curve. While the peak horsepower may remain the same, the amount of horsepower and torque up to that peak may be less overall. The beauty of variable cam lift is not only the ability to gain more power at upper rpm’s on the “big cam”, but the ability to gain torque down low on the “small cam”. Low rpm torque gets the vehicle moving and then big horsepower at upper rpm’s gains speed. Having only one cam profile is now introducing a compromise versus the VTEC setup. I guess it’s possible that with direct injection they are able to keep the low rpm torque there (I’ve read that DI helps with low rpm torque) but I’m skeptical it will match a well tuned variable lift setup.