A rock solid Teutonic alternative
As much as the Volkswagen Golf deservingly gets attention and praise, its more pedestrian brother, the Jetta, should be getting more love than it has been getting lately. I’ve always had a soft spot for both brotherly models for different reasons. Until recently, the Jetta was the hardworking everyday steed and the Golf was the one you wanted to play with on the weekends. They shared the same platforms but one was a hatchback and the other was a sedan. The top-range Jetta was and still is the GLI model which was always less vibrant that the equivalent Golf especially in GTI trim. The emotions that support both models haven’t changed much since its early days but I am hoping that with this current 6th generation that the tide would change.
Despite still using the old PQ35 chassis and not the new superior MQB platform used in the Golf, the Jetta at least feels as good because it uses a stretched and reinforced version of the older chassis. The result is that the Jetta feels very much like a slightly smaller Passat, which is saying a lot because I’m comparing it to the European model that does use the new MQB chassis. Reinforcing this is the fact that the Jetta is actually the best-selling Volkswagen of any type in North America. And after logging over 2,000 kilometers in our Grey Metallic SEL Premium test model, we concur that the Jetta is still very much a great all-around premium compact sedan.
It may not have the thrust from the 200 bhp 2.0-liter engine from the GLI but the chassis could handle the more potent powerplant from the 230 bhp Golf GTi. In fact, as crazy as it may sound, I would actually buy a Jetta over the Golf today if it had the option of using the GTi engine because the sedan is so much more comfortable without giving up too much of the handling prowess of its smaller more capable sibling. Our Jetta SEL had the updated high-resolution infotainment system with rear camera and a slew of creature-comfort features. The only problem I had with our test unit was that it didn’t have HID or LED headlights. I didn’t mind that it uses the more plebian 1.8T engine either; it is still plenty quick and handles very well. Isabel particularly loved the Jetta too and was disappointed that we had to return it for another test unit. She loved the everyday driving ease and pep. She preferred the smooth power delivery of the 6-speed automatic over the 6-speed DSG. On paper, the Golf has more interior capacity but the Jetta feels airier inside and more substantial.
I look forward to the all-new 7th generation Jetta that will certainly use the MQB chassis and new powerplants, but you wouldn’t feel short changed in this current model, it is truly one of the very best overall products that Volkswagen builds.
Specification – 2017 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Premium
Engine: Inline-4, 1798 cc, dohc 16V, Direct Injection Intercooled Turbo, VVT, 6-speed AT
Max power: 170 bhp @ 4800 rpm
Max torque: 184 lb ft @ 1500-4000 rpm
0-100 km/h (0-62mph): 7.8 sec.
Top Speed: 200 km/h (125 mph) Governed
Fuel Mileage: 25 mpg City & 35 mpg Highway
Price as tested: US$ 27,815.00
C! RATING 9.5/10
+Best and most sorted Jetta model ever, almost complete packaging, jack-of-all-trades.
-No HID or LED headlights, can look a bit too conservative, a GTI variant would be wonderful.