Lowest-powered Jetta makes an unusual, if intriguing, choice

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.

See more pics of the Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 TDI Bluemotion

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

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Hughesynights 25 February 2011

Re: Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 TDI Bluemotion

Clearly the 1.6 Bluemotion is better for ultimate mpg.
The VCA noise data is fron the European standard drive-by test at 50 km/hr. At motorway speeds, the 1.6 is working a bit harder than the 2.0, so is a bit noisier to my ears.

Maxycat 24 February 2011

Re: Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 TDI Bluemotion

Walking wrote:
I'm intrigued why set the control to 56mph, I assume at this speed you never need to change lanes, did you get much abuse from the lorry drives as they went passed.
56 mph is the maximum speed trucks are governed to in the UK, about 60mph on most car speedometers.

GD 24 February 2011

Re: Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 TDI Bluemotion

Walking wrote:
I'm intrigued why set the control to 56mph, I assume at this speed you never need to change lanes

You know, it's not that bad really. Yes, you stay in the inside lane - shouldn't everyone, except when overtaking? No, lorry drivers do not give you any abuse, provided you remember the code, and flash them back in as they clear your front bumper. The other point is it's unbelievably relaxing. For decades I was a frequently over the limit outside lane runner, except when someone more adventurous than I came up behind. Recently I've slowed down a lot, and it's not just age. By the way, I drive a Bora and am considering a new Jetta!