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Volkswagen Jetta 2011 review

EXPERT RATING
7

Why is it that air weighs nothing but as soon as it starts moving, it can blow an umbrella inside out, cause seas to send ships off course and even destroy buildings.

Please don't expect and answer from me. I am too busy wondering while Volkswagen would even consider picking wind names for its cars. A range of yachts, yes. Kites and wind turbines, even.

I won't crudely suggest that the name of wind from animals be applied to a new Volkswagen model but there's not many options left. Renault has come close - Fluence - and Daimler made a Dart. For now, at least, it's a Volkswagen Jetta.

VALUE

The Jetta is an extension of the Golf but is so close to the Passat that it could create buyer indecision on the same showroom floor. The test car costs $26,490 as a six-speed manual - which you'd upspec to an auto without thinking - which frankly makes it feel like a cheap car.

Then there's the dreary all-black dashboard with as much life as a burnt stick. List the features - including that sparkling 1.4-litre engine - and the Jetta 118TSI redeems itself. But the delivery is poor and it looks very basic against similarly priced rivals.

DESIGN

Certain people prefer sedans, citing their more conservative and less abrupt styling as being more elegant. More pragmatic buyers cite the isolation of the cabin and the boot as being safer - especially in ice-cold climates where occupants would incur the freezing air while the boot lid was open.

The Jetta is liberal in its accommodation and thanks to the huge boot, is an excellent case for a sedan. The styling is neat but too conservative to accurately reflect the sticker price. The cabin is simple - which I applaud - but needs some spice to resurrect it from deco 1970s Ukraine.

TECHNOLOGY

Big news here is the 1.4-litre engine that blends a supercharger with a turbocharger. The former works from idle to 3500rpm, and the turbo from about 3000rpm up. It makes a little engine perform like stink though, when you're off the heat, sip like a bird. It's a brilliant package with a price - it hasn't proven to be especially reliable.

Volkswagen Australia is repairing busted engines and a cure has been found. Remember this engine is complex and needs regular, professional servicing. Jetta gets four-link rear suspension (some global markets get a less supple torsion beam) and electric steering.

SAFETY

Jetta has a five-star crash rating and comes with the full suite of safety equipment, including electronic stability control that from January 1, 2012 is mandatory on all Australian passenger cars. There are six airbags and the spare wheel is full size.

DRIVING

The six-speed manual version indicates it's aimed at the owner who enjoys the art of driving. He - or she - will have to go back to school to learn that the dual-clutch automatic version (DSG in VW-speak) is quicker and more fuel efficient. Regardless, the manual box is slick and the bottom four ratios wring the best from the broad and seemingly endless supply of power from that tiny engine.

Remarkable. The top two cogs are for touring and even slight inclines will demand a downshift to fifth. Handling is very precise and the body stays flat. It will tend to understeer (as most cars do) but there's sufficient warning and it's a progressive action.

I reckon the electric-assist steering is close to spot-on for the suburban, near-city driving conditions expected of this car. I was peeved that at 100km/h on the digital readout the analogue was showing 107km/h which is speeding fine material if you're looking at the wrong dial (the Jetta has two).

VERDICT

This ticks most of the boxes but you'd want a bit of colour in the gloom of the cabin. The DSG auto is far better than the manual.

Pricing Guides

$9,905
Based on 23 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$4,990
Highest Price
$11,788

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
103 TDI 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,700 – 10,780 2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2011 103 TDI Pricing and Specs
103 TDI Comfortline 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $7,950 – 10,450 2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2011 103 TDI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
118 TSI 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $4,990 – 10,980 2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2011 118 TSI Pricing and Specs
118 TSI Comfortline 1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $9,880 – 9,998 2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2011 118 TSI Comfortline Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Neil Dowling
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$4,990

Lowest price, based on 6 car listings in the last 6 months

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