What is it?
When I first drove Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre diesel Jetta a few weeks ago (Autocar, 26 January), I also got a steer in the lowest-powered diesel model, the 1.6-litre unit toting 104bhp. There’s a petrol 1.2 turbo of the same poke, but the British market won’t be taking it.
What's it like?
Mostly, you’ll find the same things to like about the 1.6-litre diesel as the 2.0-litre. The Jetta is a near-Passat-sized car at a price that undercuts its bigger sibling.
It has a fairly big boot, a roomy enough cabin and perceived quality that’s more similar to a Golf than the Passat range, but entirely excusable at its price level.
This little power doesn’t sound like a lot for a 4.6-metre-long car and, well, it isn’t, but it’s not so bad. Zero to 62mph comes up in a touch under 12 seconds, and the BlueMotion-badged model (which gets part-time alternators and stop-start) emits just 109g/km of CO2 in manual form (113g/km as a DSG). It’s quiet, too.
If you do serious motorway miles, I’ll wager the Jetta would offer seriously economical cruising economy – probably better than a Toyota Prius, which is a similar size and not a million miles away on price. Officially this is a combined-cycle 67.3mpg, or 78.5mpg on the highway. Let’s call it comfortably 50mpg plus.
Where the 1.6 Jetta doesn’t do so well is also where its bigger-engined varieties don’t.
Should I buy one?
Generally, the British market prefers hatchbacks to saloons at this size and price, which makes the Golf a better proposition again. The Golf is a more dynamic steer, too.
But if you fancy a saloon, and one that’s refined and frugal at that, the Jetta makes a convincing case.
Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 TDI Bluemotion
Price: £18,000(est); Top speed: 118mph; 0-62mph: 11.7sec; Economy: 67.3mpg; CO2: 118g/km; Kerb weight: 1395kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1598cc, turbodiesel; Power: 104bhp at 4400rpm; Torque: 184lb ft at 1500-2500rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual