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Volkswagen Jetta 2012 Review

In the Jetta line-up there are now five models, instead of seven, and three engines, instead of five.

GOING it alone should pay dividends for the shyest of the Volkswagen family, the Jetta. No longer is it simply a Golf with a boot. It now comes as a standalone sedan in its own right. New from the wheels up, and longer and taller than a Golf, the Jetta has smooth, unobtrusive lines and balanced proportions that resemble a scaled-down Passat, which is just 25mm longer. 

On the road it is not as engaging to drive as a Golf but performs with undemanding maturity, poise and discipline. The interior looks and feels bigger than a Golf. It has its own dash design and layout, although it retains familiar controls and instruments.
It has a huge boot and a full-size spare on most models.


There are now five models, instead of seven, and three engines, instead of five, including one manual and four with direct shift gearboxes.

They are the 118TSI manual at $26,490 (auto seven-speed DSG $28,900), the 118TSI Comfortline with DSG at $32,490, the 103TDI Comfortline with six-speed DSG at $34,990 and the 147TSI Highline six-speed DSG at $37,990.

The 118 comes with six airbags, stability control, airconditioning, Bluetooth, USB connection, cruise control, multi-function display, multi-function steering wheel, day lights, heated mirrors with indicator lights, six-way driver's seat adjustment, 16-inch steel wheels and a full-sized spare.

It also has CISS, a crash impact sound sensor system that "hears'' the sound waves of an impact and speeds up airbag inflation. The 103TDI Comfortline adds 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, auto headlights and wipers and folding mirrors.


The entry level model, a 118TSI, is about $4500 less than the previous range-starter, the less powerful 77TDI. On test were the manual 118TSI and automatic 103TDI. The manual brings out the best in the 1.4-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol power plant. It is a cracker of an engine, armed with such instant and linear thrust that it feels much bigger in capacity. 

Output is 118kW and 240Nm, comparable to a naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine. Acceleration from rest to 100km/h is a claimed 8.3-seconds in the manual and auto. Yet it is miserly on fuel, returning 6.5l/100km on the combined cycle, using 95 RON fuel.

The gearshift is slick and, although the clutch uptake could be more progressive, it does come with a hill holder. Well proven in a long line of VWs, the 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel is strong and willing and all but silent on the move. 

Output is 103kW and 320Nm and is perfectly matched to the six-speed DSG, which is more refined than earlier versions, with less hesitation when engaging drive and reverse. A determination to shift into the tallest gear as early as possible helps deliver frugal fuel use of 5.5l/100km.


The interior, like the exterior, is understated but is comprehensively equipped and flawlessly finished, with quality soft-touch dash trim and clear and logical instruments and controls. No gimmicks or flashy styling, it is just elegant, warm and inviting. 

The longer wheelbase gives the Jetta a firm yet more compliant ride than its predecessor and handling that is confident and composed with high levels of grip. Steering is accurate and nicely weighted. Seating is firm and supportive and best for four -- although three slim adults will squeeze into the rear at a pinch. 

Head room in the rear is ample and the visibility through the side glass is unimpeded, as is rear vision for the driver. There is ample storage in the centre console, doors and cup holder slots. The rear seat has a fold down armrest with cup holders and a ski port. 

The backrests split fold, although not to a flat floor, and the opening through to the deeper boot is partially restricted by the bulkhead.  While the Jetta is not styled to startle in a competitive market, it is a polished performer with plenty of intrinsic value.


Price: From $26,490 to $37,990
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)




VW Jetta: review




Mat Watson road tests and reviews the VW Jetta.




Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

118 TSI 1.4L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $5,300 – 8,140 2012 Volkswagen Jetta 2012 118 TSI Pricing and Specs
118 TSI Comfortline 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $6,500 – 10,010 2012 Volkswagen Jetta 2012 118 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
147 TSI Highline 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP $9,100 – 13,750 2012 Volkswagen Jetta 2012 147 TSI Highline Pricing and Specs
103 TDI Comfortline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP $7,000 – 10,780 2012 Volkswagen Jetta 2012 103 TDI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
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