Fleet News

Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen

Review

WE haven’t seen the Jetta name on a Volkswagen in the UK since 1990, when the Golf saloon became first the Vento and then the Bora.

Now, after 15 years in the trademark cupboard at Wolfsburg, the name is back on the bootlid of the firm’s lower-medium sector saloon challenger.

Based on the Mark V Golf, the new Jetta is much bigger than the Bora it replaces. It is 18cm longer, 5cm wider and 1cm taller, which gives comfortable seating for five adults, and the boot space is increased by 72 litres to 527.

Volkswagen is targeting it at Ford’s Mondeo, the Vauxhall Vectra, Volvo S40 and Honda Accord. Quite how this works I’m not sure, as I thought the Jetta’s bigger brother, the Passat, was charged with taking the fight to Mondeo, Vectra, et al.

Although there will inevitably be some sales crossover between top-spec Jettas and entry-level Passats, the main focus for the new Volkswagen will be battling with the likes of Ford’s Focus saloon, the Volvo S40 and Renault Megane saloon.

And although prices have yet to be announced, the basic Jetta costs £2,150 less than the basic Passat in Germany. With Passat prices starting at a whisker under £15,000 in the UK, that suggests a likely price tag of about £13,000 for the Jetta 1.6 S.

With prices like that, Volkswagen should have no trouble finding homes for the 8,000 models it expects to sell next year (the Jetta goes on sale in February), with fleets taking about 70% of that total. That compares to Bora sales last year of 6,214, although at its peak in 2000 it sold 11,282, making it the biggest seller in an unpopular sector in the UK.

At launch there will be three trim levels – S, SE and Sport, with standard equipment on all including air conditioning, remote locking with alarm, electric windows all round, CD player and alloy wheels.

Standard safety features include ESP, driver, front passenger, front side and curtain airbags, LED rear lights which Volkswagen claims illuminate much quicker than standard bulbs, giving drivers behind more warning of braking, and Isofix child seat mounting points.

Engines will mirror the line-up found in the Golf, which means 1.6 and 2.0 FSI petrols and the turbocharged 2.0-litre FSI from the Golf GTi. But for fleets the diesels will be of more relevance, and there’s a choice of 1.9 TDI or 2.0 TDI (predicted to be the biggest seller in SE specification), both of which are Euro IV compliant. Later in 2006 a 168bhp 2.0 TDI version will be launched. Also in common with the Golf is pretty much everything forward of the C-pillars because, in essence, the Jetta is a Golf with a boot.

The only thing which distinguishes the two is the silver-framed front grille on the Jetta, a design theme borrowed from the Passat (as are the LED rear light units) and some strakes of silver highlights on the front bumpers. Inside it’s pure Volkswagen fare, with a dashboard from the Golf.

So what you have with the Jetta is another Golf variant if you really want a saloon bodystyle. It won’t challenge the might of its hatchback brother, but it is likely to continue to dominate the small saloon segment.

Behind the wheel

IT will come as no surprise when I tell you that the Jetta drives almost the same as the Golf.

Both share the same chassis, suspension, engines and gearboxes, so adding a boot on to the back really makes very little difference.

The only discernible change I could feel was in the ride, which felt stiffer on the Jetta. Volkswagen insists there is no difference between the two models, but on country roads the Jetta’s ride was harsher than that of the Golf.

Other than that, there’s little to criticise. The steering has much more weight and feel to it than on the Bora, while the gearbox action doesn’t feel as vague as before. The 2.0 TDI remains the engine of choice, offering easy mid-gear acceleration and a relaxed cruising nature.

Driving verdict

FOR its blend of power and economy there is little to touch the 2.0 TDI. You could cover big mileages in this Jetta without discomfort.

Model: 1.6 FSI 2.0 FSI 2.0T FSI 1.9 TDI 2.0 TDI
Max power (bhp/rpm): 114/6,000 148/6,000 197/5,100 103/4,000 138/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 114/4,000 148/3,500 207/1,800 185/1,900 236/1,750
Max speed (mph): 121 131 146 117 129
-62mph (sec): 11.1 9.2 7.5 11.9 9.7
Fuel consumption (mpg): 40.9 36.2 35.3 54.3 51.3
CO2 emissions (g/km): 166 187 192 140 149
On sale: February 2006
Prices: TBC

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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