The latest-generation Jetta was unveiled at the New York auto show in 2010, and Volkswagen is careful to say that every “visible” panel is new (which we’ll come to in a moment) compared with the model it replaces.
The styling was led by the manufacturer’s head of design, Klaus Bischoff, and is said to be inspired by the NCC (New Compact Coupé) of early 2010. However, there’s little on the Jetta that you wouldn’t expect to find on a latest-generation Volkswagen.
It follows the lineage and cues of the new Polo, Passat and Sharan. It’s a clean shape and not an unhandsome one, either. If you’re looking for novelty and flair, you’ll be as disappointed as you would be with any current car from this marque. But clean and classy – and that’s the definition given by most commentators during our test car’s time with us – is no shabby substitute.
You could be forgiven for mistaking the Jetta for a Passat — particularly the grille and headlight layout, although in fact they’re unique to the Jetta. Horizontal grille dividers help to make the Jetta look wider; at 1778mm across, it’s actually narrower than a five-door Volkswagen Golf. Elsewhere at the front, a subtle front spoiler contributes to a decent drag coefficient of 0.30.
Tapered rear lights seem noticeably Audi-like, and look good in the well proportioned boot of the Jetta. The trailing edge of the bootlid has been sculpted to be as aerodynamic as possible, reducing drag and improving the car’s efficiency through the air.