The Jetta is a near-Passat-sized car at a price that undercuts its bigger sibling
If you fancy a saloon, and one that’s refined and frugal at that, the Jetta makes a convincing case
It has a roomy enough cabin and perceived quality that’s more similar to a Golf than the Passat
First DriveUpgrades 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
First DriveInteresting and appealing - but European buyers will, surely, stick with the diesel Jetta
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