Following the freshened Polo and Vento, Volkswagen has just launched the new Jetta. Actually, it’s more of a mild facelift, aimed at keeping the car relevant against the competition and we’ve driven it around Mahabaleshwar and Pune. Here are our first impressions, to be followed by a detailed story in our March 2015 issue.
Volkswagen, along with the numerous car brands it owns, seems to have an inclination towards clean, sophisticated and subtle design, barring the exception of Lamborghini, which is an extreme opposite. As has been the case with the Polo and Vento updates, the changes on the Jetta aren’t easy to make out from a distance but there are fine hints of a better looking car.
Upfront, the headlamps now have 15 LED daytime running lights arranged in a hook sort of design, which surrounds xenon units. This most attractive bit of the front though is available only as an option. The grille too has been redesigned along with the bumper and fog lamps.
At the rear too, the changes are mild and the sharper tail-lamps are surrounded by a new bootlid. The bumper too is new and imparts the vehicle with a little wider look. All these changes on the exterior might not give the Jetta a new identity but they surely help in enhancing its appeal. In a nutshell, the new Jetta looks more like the Passat and more premium as well.
Inside the car, the changes are similar to that of the Polo and Vento and the most visible change is the flat-bottomed steering wheel’s inclusion. While this is the same multi-function unit seen on the Polo, the unit in Jetta has shift pedals, adding to driver convenience or fun, depending on an individual’s preference.
The centre console now features a piano-black finish, while the new AC vents are in chrome. The changes overall uplift the character of the cabin and give it a spark of elegance. The seats and space dimensions remain the same along with the wheelbase and that is fine because space in the Jetta was never a concern. There's also a fatigue detection system in place, which monitors driver behaviour and various vehicle parameters to determine if the driver is tired and is practising unsafe driving.
What impressed us most about the cabin was the applaud-worthy NVH levels, which is comparable to the more premium cars from Volkswagen’s German competitors.
The engines in the new Jetta are unchanged and power output for both diesel and petrol units remain the same. One also needs to keep in mind that the updated Jetta, although in the same segment of the group-owned Skoda Octavia, isn’t underpinned on the MQB platform. This car instead uses the previous-generation Golf’s PQ35 platform, even as the new Golf has moved onto the MQB. This means the car doesn’t get the MQB engines seen on the Octavia.
The new Jetta will be available in petrol and diesel variants with a 1.4 l TSI engine producing about 120 hp and a 2 l TDI unit producing 140 hp. The diesel version can be bought with a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed DSG automatic unit. We were able to drive only the manual transmission equipped petrol and diesel variants but given our past experiences with the DSG and the six-speed unit, there’s no reason to doubt its performance.
The petrol motor is refined and offers decent acceleration and good drivability. The gearbox is smooth and shifts offer good feedback as well. The diesel motor too is refined and a healthy torque of 320 Nm between 1,750 and 2,500 rpm offers an effortless driving experience.
Like the existing Volkswagen India cars, the Jetta too turned out to be a sure-footed performer on all kinds of roads. The suspension does a good job of keeping the cabin free of most minor undulations and only the larger ones make it through, but in a controlled manner. The suspension, being on the softer side, does lead to some body-roll around corners but the chassis and grip from the tyres keep things in control and offer good fun. The steering is impressively direct and offers decent amount of feedback, making the new Jetta a good machine for the weekend getaways involving spirited driving. The large boot only adds further to this benefit.
The new Jetta isn’t a departure from the old one but instead builds on its strengths. Also, the Jetta doesn’t feature the famed MQB underpinnings as does the new Octavia. While the next-generation Jetta will be MQB-based one, these changes do a decent job of enhancing the product appeal. With loads of space, elegant styling and impressive build quality, the updated Jetta presents itself as a nice alternative in its segment.
The new Jetta has been priced at Rs 13.87 lakh (ex-showroom Mumbai); placing it competitively against the competition in the Indian market. Mentioned below is the variant-wise pricing for the new Jetta.
Text & Photo: Arpit Mahendra