The all new Jetta is here and this is the sixth generation model, for the first time the car is no longer a booted Golf like the outgoing Jetta (though the car is built on the same PQ35 platform). First look at the nose and it looks very familiar; we even mistook it for a Vento until we got closer. The car features VW's new family signature comprising of edgy front headlamps (with daytime running lights), twin chrome grille slats and a muscular front bumper. Even the air dam and fog lamp design is very similar to the Vento. The outer mirrors are borrowed from the Passat and feature turn indicators but that's where the similarity ends. From the side, the coupe-like sloping roofline adds to the style quotient while the prominent shoulder line gives the car a clean and handsome look. When viewed from the rear, the Jetta looks like no other VW, it in fact looks more like a baby Audi A4 because of the similarity in the tailamp design.
Step inside and the familiar VW theme continues, functional and simple interior that gels well with the exterior. The materials are of high quality and are solidly built; the plastics are a combination of both hard and soft touch type offering good fit and finish. The Highline variant along with the Comfortline variant doesn't feature leather upholstery but perforated leatherette. This textured vinyl material feels like leather and is as comfortable too. The Trendline variant on the other hand is available with fabric upholstery. All models however offer leather wrapped steering wheel, gear shift knob and hand brake lever. The steering wheel is also borrowed from the Passat and offers controls for the stereo and the multi function display (Comfortline and Highline). All three variants come equipped with different stereo systems. Climate control is sadly missing even in the Highline variant and what one gets is a simple air-con unit with manually adjusting control knobs.
The seats are comfortable and offer good lumbar and thigh support while the driving position is spot on. The Highline variant gets a 12-way electrically adjustable driver seat along with electrically adjustable lumbar support as well. At the rear, the increase in wheelbase has resulted in more space. Legroom is generous and is much more than the previous Jetta and its cousin, the Skoda Laura. However, the transmission tunnel intrudes at the rear and can seat only two people comfortably. Headroom is good with lot of space to spare, rear air con vents are standard and a centre armrest with cup holders is available in the Comfortline and Highline variant. Boot space is adequate but has come down by 17litres when compared to the older Jetta's 527 litre boot. The rear seat can be split and folded to offer extra space by simply pulling a lever placed in the boot. In terms of safety, all the variants feature ABS, EDL (Electronic Differential Lock) and traction control. The Trendline and Comforline variants feature six airbags while the top end Highline gets a total of eight airbags.
The Jetta features an electric power steering that is lighter and easy on the hands especially at parking speeds but is not as involving as the older Jetta at higher speeds. The car features coil springs with shock absorbers up front and a multi link suspension with stabilizer at the rear. The suspension has been tuned well to Indian conditions and is neither stiff nor too soft but strikes the right balance. Over undulated surfaces and bad stretches, the Jetta glided through without any complaints. The ride quality is fantastic and feels more like sitting in a higher segment car such as the Passat, it is definitely a vast improvement over the previous model even with the slightly lower profile 205/55 section tyres.
Coming to the powerplant, the Jetta as of now is only available in diesel form. The common-rail diesel engine displaces 1968cc and produces a maximum power of 140PS at 4200rpm while maximum torque of 320Nm is available between 1750-2000rpm. This is the same engine that also powers the Skoda Superb and the Skoda Laura DSG. The engine displays very little turbo lag and offers strong bottom end torque that quickly propels the car to triple digit speeds. The engine feels great while cruising too and is calm and refined. There is noticeable diesel clatter but good noise insulation in the car ensures that very little noise seeps into the cabin.
The engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission or an optional 6-speed DSG. The manual gearbox is slick and precise while the clutch is easy on the foot and even after driving around in the highway and twisty sections for quite some time, the drive was not tiring. The twin-clutch gearbox like in all VW's is a gem to operate and also offers paddle shifters that respond instantly while upshifting and downshifting. Power delivery is as good as the manual and is fun to drive especially in sports mode. The DSG option is only available in the Highline variant and we only wish it could have been available in the other variants as well.
The company claimed top speeds are 208kmph and 210kmph for the DSG and MT versions. While being powerful than the older Jetta, fuel efficiency is still good, the ARAI claimed figures for the manual transmission Jetta is 19.33kmpl while the DSG returns 16.96kmpl (considerably less when compared to the MT).
In terms of pricing, the entry level Trendline model starts at a competitive Rs 14.12 lakh (cheaper than the older Jetta) while the Comfortline is priced at Rs 15.39 lakh. The Highline variant though is a bit pricey; the MT and DSG version is priced at Rs 17.06 lakh and 17.86 lakh respectively. (All prices ex-showroom Delhi). For more on the Jetta, watch out for the next issue of OVERDRIVE.