A recent trip out into the sticks of Norfolk threw up a challenge for the Jetta. I have stuck resolutely to Volkswagen’s recommendation for the use of higher-octane fuel to the lean-burn FSI engine, despite the extra £3 per tankful, believing their assertion that it enables the engine to operate “more efficiently”.
Come fill-up time in Downham Market (small Fenland town downwind of the Wash, population around 8,000, big enough for a Tesco but not an M&S), I was amazed to find no pump offering super unleaded at either of the two petrol stations. On enquiring, I was told that the nearest was to be had at King’s Lynn, 10 miles down the road.
As a townie accustomed to 24-hour on-tap availability, I had never realised that our country cousins might be restricted on their choice of car because of limitations of a particular fuel type – how democratic is that?
In fact, I put in a couple of gallons of conventional 95 RON unleaded and didn”t really notice the difference, though it would be interesting to trial that longer-term because Volkswagen says its cars will still “operate effectively” on plain old unleaded.
For the record, a Volkswagen spokesman said: “We recommend super unleaded fuel, be it 97, 98 or 99 RON on certain engines in part due to their design and construction.
“Super unleaded fuels are recommended on all FSI engines due largely to the fact they contain higher octane levels and allow the engines to operate more efficiently. During the development of these engines they were mapped for use with 97 octane fuel, although they will operate effectively on conventional 95 RON fuel.
“The fuels are also recommended on advanced engines such as the new small-capacity, high-output 1.4-litre TSI Twincharger simply because they are better suited to high-performance engines.”
Meanwhile, a spell in a trendy little Mazda MX-5 has convinced me of the benefits of what some might call boring saloons like the Jetta. Take away the head-turning appeal of the sports car and the chance it offers to bask topless in the sunshine (very occasionally) and I”d choose the Jetta for its practicality – but maybe that”s not the point for most people.
The Jetta”s sister car the Passat won Fleet News Awards this year both for Best Upper-Medium Car (voted by a panel of industry experts) and Company Car of the Year (voted by fleet managers).
However, with prices starting at just under £19,000 for the Passat, there”s a price differential of several thousand pounds and you might be tempted to go for the cheaper option in the hope that some of the winner”s credentials have rubbed off on its little sister.
Price: £16,650 (£20,095 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 197
Company car tax bill (2007) 22% tax-payer: £76 per month
Insurance group: 11E
Combined mpg: 34.4
Test mpg: 30.3
CAP Monitor RV: £6,450/39%
Contract hire rate: £338
Expenditure to date: Nil