After years as a Golf with a boot, Volkswagen's just-released 2012 Jetta has come of age with its own longer-wheelbase platform, handsome new styling, more standard features and pin-sharp pricing.
PRICES AND DRIVETRAINS
Offered in entry-level Jetta guise as well as Comfortline and Highline specifications, pricing kicks off at $26,490 (down $2500 on its predecessor) for the 1.4-litre 118TSI six-speed manual version, $28,990 buys you the seven-speed DSG automatic version and the seven-speed DSG Comfortline is $32,490.
When mated with a six-speed manual gearbox, the cracking little 118kW/240Nm turbocharged and supercharged engine delivers a combined fuel-consumption of 6.5 litres/100km and just 6.2 litres/100km with the optional DSG transmission. The sprint time to 100km/h is 8.3 seconds.
The petrol range-topper the 2.0-litre 147kW/280Nm 147TSI with its six-speed DSG transmission — is $37,990 and VW claims a combined fuel figure of 7.9 litres/100km.
The $37,990 103kW/320Nm 103TDI Highline DSG can sprint to 100km/h in 9.5 seconds and achieve a miserly 5.5 litres/100km.
Standard Jetta safety kit includes a clever new crash-impact sound-sensor system, electronic stability program, brake-force distribution and differential locking as well as anti-slip regulation, six airbags, anti-whiplash front head restraints and three height-adjustable head restraints in the rear.
Standard entry-level goodies include heated exterior mirrors, remote central locking, air conditioning with a dust and pollen filter, an eight-speaker audio system, cruise control, AUX and Bluetooth connectivity, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel and six-way front-seat adjustment.
Move up to the 118TSI and 103TDI Comfortline versions and you gain 16-inch alloys, parking sensors, central armrests, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone "air," and sexier chrome air-vent surrounds.
The range-topping 147TSI gets all the fruit including 17-inch alloys, sportier suspension, a six-CD changer/touch-screen audio system with, a headlight-cleaning system, more exterior chrome highlights, leather upholstery, heated sports front seats, handy under-seat storage drawers, interior-trim features, front fog lights and static-cornering lights.
Out on the road during the Jetta's national media launch, the car proved to be another example of why VW is doing so well here and around the world. It is beautifully put together in Mexico as it happens and it has exterior and interior style to match. It is also a quiet, refined car with impeccable on-road manners.
The engines and their performance and fuel efficiency are one of the new model's strong points and the new electro-mechanical steering works a treat.
The car turns in accurately with no hint of understeer and while the top-spec Highline's sports suspension is set-up 15mm lower than its siblings, it is not harsh and it certainly enhances the car's overall driving dynamics as it rides on a MacPherson-strut front-suspension set-up and a multi-link rear arrangement.
Like all Volkswagen vehicles, the seats in the entry-level- and Comfortline models are excellent and the sports versions in the Highline are even more excellent.
Warranty: Three years, unlimited km
Engines: Supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-litre (118kW/240Nm), 2.0-litre turbodiesel (103kW/320Nm), 2.0-litre turbo petrol (147kW/280Nm)
Body: Four-door sedan
Transmission: Six-speed manual (1.4 only), seven-speed DSG (1.4 only) six-speed DSG (2.0-litre diesel and petrol engines)
Thirst: 6.5 litres/100km 150g/km (1.4-litre petrol manual), 5.5 litres/100km, 143g/km CO2 (2.0-litre diesel), 7.9 litres/100km 183g/km (2.0-litre petrol)