Upgrades to the Jetta's engine range and styling mean it's more appealing than before, but the reasons for buying one are still few and far between

What is it?

Our first chance to drive VW's refreshed Jetta saloon on home soil, the car having made its debut at the New York motor show back in April. 

We've praised this generation of Jetta for finally injecting some individuality and personality into what has long since been a fairly forgettable mix.

The latest raft of changes bring mild styling tweaks - most notably with revised air intakes and new LED DRLs - while there are new instruments and an updated steering wheel design inside.

The overall shape is slippier, too, making the Jetta ten per cent more aerodynamic than before.

It's available with either a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with 148bhp, or a 2.0-litre TDI diesel with either 108bhp or 148bhp. It's the lower-powered diesel version we're testing here, in mid-spec SE trim and with a five-speed manual transmission - tipped to be the volume seller in the UK.

Standard kit is pretty impressive for a small saloon - you get stop/start and battery recuperation functions, cruise control, air conditioning, DAB radio with MP3 and auxiliary functions and a 3.5-inch touchscreen infotainment screen. For that you'll pay £21,425.

At that price point, the Jetta not only faces competition from other junior saloons like the Skoda Octavia, but also from the new, eighth-generation Passat, which starts at £22,215.

What's it like?

To drive, it feels very much like the old model. That's no bad thing, because the outgoing car was comfortable, practical and fairly economical.

It's spacious inside, and comes with some truly great ergonomics. All controls fall within easy reach of the driver, and between the adjustable seat, armrest and steering wheel you won't be hunting around for long to find a decent driving position.  

The 2.0-litre TDI engine in our test car produces 108bhp and 185lb ft of torque. That's good enough, says Volkswagen, for a 0-62mph sprint time of 11.0 seconds, but getting up to motorway speeds can feel somewhat asthmatic. There's still enough pace for decent progress, though, provided you're prepared to kick down a gear when overtaking.

A six-speed transmission option would be a welcome addition, because while the five-speed does a good enough job it does leave the engine at just above 2000rpm on the motorway. That's just high enough for its drone to start creeping into the cabin, and where a sixth cruising gear would really help.

Ride and handling are both well judged, and while the steering is devoid of any feeling it is well weighted. 

The latest Jetta is pretty economical too. All of its engines now come with VW's BlueMotion Technology upgrades, and their effect means we saw a stable 61mpg on the motorway, which fell to an average of around 45mpg in stop-start town driving.

Should I buy one?

It's worth considering, but to buy a Jetta you'll need to swerve past both the Volkswagen Golf and the Passat, which has become so good in its eighth generation that it's easy to overlook the smaller Jetta completely.

This is a car which still has merit, but nonetheless is likely to remain a low-volume model - VW sold just over 2000 Jettas in the UK last year, and statistics increasingly tell us that British buyers prefer hatchbacks on the whole. That said, if you do find yourself bucking the trend then the Jetta remains a practical choice.

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Volkswagen Jetta SE 2.0 TDI BlueMotion Technology 110PS

Price £21,425; 0-62mph 11.0sec; Top speed 122mph; Economy 70.6mpg; CO2 105g/km; Kerb weight 1395kg; Engine four cylinders, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 108bhp at 3200-4000rpm; Torque 185lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 5-speed manual

Add a comment…
andrea 25 November 2014

so finally VW is not getting

so finally VW is not getting 4 stars ... ALLELUIA

it should have got 3 really just for the design, something that it seems this articles are keeping forgetting... beside that is just as premium as they want us to think...

imagine only if another maker would have done something like that... 2stars ??? hahahah

dukebox9reg 11 November 2014

I can't see why they have

I can't see why they have used the 2.0 tdi with only 108bhp/185lbft. Their own 1.6 tdi 103bhp and 184lbft fitted to the mk7 golf bluemotion matches that and with better reported economy.

The wife Citroen Picasso 1.6 HDI has 115bhp and 200lbft and delivers better fuel economy than this 'slippery' Jetta.

As mentioned above, VW recycling and charging a premium. Im guessing aswell its still on the old platform like the Rocco rather than the MBQ.

Citytiger 9 November 2014

Not my type of vehicle, and

Not my type of vehicle, and the main reason the article has for not recommending the Jetta is because its a small saloon, but the same magazine loves to heap praise on the small BMW, Mercedes and Audi saloons that are the current trend, the 2 series, the CLA and the A3 saloon all get good reviews and don't get such negative comments because of it.