From £17,325
Quite a decent car, albeit one that’s hard to pin down
Matt Prior
18 January 2011

What is it?

Volkswagen's Jetta is back, and it's predicted to sell as hotly in the UK as ever... Estimated annual volume is all of 3000 units a year, equating roughly to Golf sales over a decent fortnight. The UK doesn't quite 'get' saloons like this one.

They get them in the States, where more than 120,000 Jettas will sell a year. It's also cheap (there): it's built in Mexico, where US models are fitted with torsion beam rear axles and hard interior trim. Euro variants are priced higher thanks to multi-linked rears, better trimmed insides and their Atlantic cruise. Still, £17k-£22k or so isn’t bad, given its size.

See pics of the Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI in action

Ah yes, the Jetta's size. VW says it bridges the gap between the Golf and Passat. Yet, at 4.64m long it's a good 45cm longer than a Golf, and just 12cm shorter than a Passat. Its boot holds 510 litres (Golf only 350, Passat 545) and there's ample room for adults to sit behind adults in the cabin.

The Jetta is longer even than a BMW 3-Series, leaving it in a peculiar hinterland, especially for those compiling company car lists, entitled 'what the heck is it?'

That solving nothing, let's move on.

What's it like?

Not at all bad. Competitive in its class? Definitely, if you can define its competitors. The meat of the Jetta range finishes where the Passat's gets going, so it undercuts its nearest obvious rival, Volvo's S40, which it also betters.

In terms of interior quality the Jetta's at Golf, perhaps just sub-Golf, levels rather than Passat ones, but in terms of dynamism and involvement it's closer to its larger sibling. Which means it's… fine. Its electrically-assisted steering is responsive and well weighted, it rides respectably, turns adequately.

Our test car was equipped with the ubiquitous 2.0-litre TDI unit developing the same 138bhp you'll find throughout the VW range, and noise levels are low. Very low, in fact. The six-speed optional DSG transmission (a six-speed manual is standard) is fine, too – at its worst during low-speed manoeuvring.


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All of which makes the Jetta a car with some reasonably compelling characteristics.

Should I buy one?

Maybe. Tell me you were thinking of buying one, and I'd think that was a decent enough idea.

Yet, tell me you wanted a family-sized Volkswagen, and it wouldn't occur to me to recommend a Jetta over a Golf. Plus ça change.

Volkswagen Jetta 2.0TDI 140 DSG

Price: £21,000 (est); Top speed: 136mph; 0-62mph: 9.5sec; Economy: 53.3mpg; Co2: 138g/km; Kerb weight: 1411kg; Engine: 4cyls in line, turbodiesel; Power:138bhp at 4200rpm; Torque: 236lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd dual-clutch auto

Join the debate


21 January 2011

I wonder how many VW would sell if they sold the US version in the UK instead at an equivalent price?

21 January 2011

Looks good but its really close to the Passat in size now. The US are getting an 'XL' version of the Passat to be sold alongside this, but the new UK Passat is basically the same size as the old one.

22 January 2011

Autocar: "The Jetta is longer even than a BMW 3-Series, leaving it in a peculiar hinterland".

4.64 metres - longer than the Ford Sierra, Vauxhall Vectra and the original 5 series. A peculiar hinterland indeed.

22 January 2011

I've always wondered why VW has long persisted in marketing the Jetta as a separate model to the Golf. Rivals long abandoned this concept while punters knew exactly that these cars were nothing more than a saloon version of their range of family hatches. Even VW knows this when the previous Golf estate shared most of its body panels with the previous Jetta, so why still try and fool us?

But now VW has gone one step further in not only making the Jetta totally unique from the Golf (and just not simply heavily facelifting the previous model either as they did with Mk 6 Golf), but also filling a supposed gap between between 2 classes of car in the European market. The size of the Jetta works well in North America due to their all-new Passat, but what we have in Europe is 'small' family saloon trampling on the toes of its big brother.

23 January 2011

This Jetta seems a better choice than the Passat, actually.
But I'd definitely choose something more brilliant from a different company.

23 January 2011

My employer hasn't increased company car allowances even though lease rates have gone up. Therefore guys are having to trade down to cheaper cars. This new Jetta could be a good choice in that case.

23 January 2011

Talk about damning with faint praise! I think this Jetta is nice enough but I don't really see it as a car for people who actually like cars. It's more for those who couldn't care less as long as the car goes, stops and comes in grey or silver.

23 January 2011

I think this is a lot better looking and proportioned than nearly all the booted Golf saloons, except perhaps the Bora, which I think was a nice compact design.

The present, rather awkward looking Jetta seems to sell well in my local area, though practically all of them are used as taxis..

23 January 2011

[quote glorfindel]This Jetta seems a better choice than the Passat, actually.[/quote] As far as I can see, the Jetta is nearly the same size as a Passat, has the same engines and transmissions, is available with much the same equipment, drives about the same but costs less. In the current trend for downsizing and cost cutting either VW are onto a little money spinner or they have shot themselves in the foot by having two cars going for the same market.

24 January 2011

[quote Dark Isle]I think this Jetta is nice enough but I don't really see it as a car for people who actually like cars[/quote]

Yup, it's usually bought by a markedly older age group than the equivalent golf. Would be nice if the reviewer actually mentioned which version he'd tested - UK or US?


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