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Volkswagen Jetta 147 Highline sedan 2011 review

... the conservatively-styled Jetta 147 Highline sedan can negotiate suburbia or be indulged in less mundane motoring.
EXPERT RATING
8

GTI, R, even a GT - all hot little numbers from the Volkswagen hatchback range, worthy pocket rockets guaranteed to elicit foolish grins. But what of those looking to fly under the radar - here's VW's solution, the conservatively-styled Jetta 147 Highline sedan, that can negotiate suburbia surreptitiously or be indulged in less mundane motoring. In many ways the GTI has been morphed into TSI, but with a boot.

VALUE

The Highline range-topper is a six-speed DSG-only proposition that is keenly priced at $37,990, down by $1000 compared to the slightly-heavier heavier outgoing model. The features list is well-stocked for the money, with automatic halogen (but not xenons of any sort) headlights, with washers and accompanied by front fog lights with cornering lights.

There's also 17in alloy wheels, controlled by sports suspension (with a 15mm lower ride height), cruise control, leather trim, heated front sports seats (with neat little storage space within), a touchscreen-operated satnav and sound system with SD slot, CD stacker, Bluetooth audio and phone link, wheel-mounted controls for the sound system, phone and trip computer, heat-insulated glass and rear vents among the features list.

TECHNOLOGY

What better place to start than the heart of the Clayton's GTI sedan - the two-litre turbocharged and intercooled direct-injection double overhead cam four-cylinder engine. Pumping out 147kW at a leisurely 5100rpm and 280Nm from 1700rpm, the power number might be unchanged compared to the outgoing model and 8kW down on the $5000 more-expensive GTI hatch, but it's still no slouch away from the line and would only be a whisker behind the13kg lighter hot hatch sibling.

Claimed fuel use of 7.9 litres per 100km from the flexible little engine, teamed with a six-speed twin-clutch automated manual, belies the feisty and flexible nature - VW says 100km/h comes up in 7.5 seconds and that's not hard to believe.

DESIGN

Sharp, clean, conservative - Volkswagen's new medium car is hardly adventurous on the outside, with strong but straight lines and conventional styling front and rear. Body-coloured mirrors, bumpers and handles, dual chrome-tipped exhaust - it's a clean-cut look but aesthetics that don't put it on the cutting edge of design. The new model is 4744mm long, an increase of 190mm over the old car, 55mm of which is in the wheelbase.

The cabin follows the same path - function over form for the most part, but plenty of storage space, ample passenger space (four adults are easily accommodated) and a large 510-litre boot (even when a full-size spare is on board) will swallow a boatload of luggage. You'd have to think long and hard before heading up to a Passat.

SAFETY

The new Jetta scores a five-star Euro NCAP rating and is equipped with six airbags as standard (dual front and front-side, full-length side-curtain airbags), as well as traction and stability control (which you can't turn off), anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist and hill start assist.

Daytime running lights, static corner front foglights and automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, heated and power-adjustable exterior mirrors, front and rear parking sensors all add up to a solid safety package.

DRIVING

A brat in choirboy's clothing is a quick way of summing up the 147TSI, but that's just the start - this is a genuine little rocket but one that hides its light under several bushels. D for daily drudgery on the DSG and light throttle pedal will sling the Jetta through the traffic quickly and quietly, easily keeping pace with the traffic.

The ride is firm, abrupt over sharper imperfections that fight with the larger 45-profile tyres, but it's not so hard that you couldn't drive it every day. The cabin is austere but comfortable, although the front sports seats could do with a little more lateral support, and here's why.

Get the Jetta away from the daily grind and somewhere with some bends, bump the shifter into Sports mode and it sheds the cardigan, spools up boost pressure and gets on with covering ground very quickly.

Body control is a strong point and once working nearer its optimum, the Jetta carves through bends with little fuss front end - the electronic nursemaids don't get in the way too soon, which is fortuitous as they can't be deactivated.

VERDICT

If a hot hatch Golf GTI has too much flash and a little less cash is a fairer asking price in your mind, then the Jetta 147 is going to hold plenty of appeal. Not the sexiest, not the newest and conservatively styled (at the very least), the Jetta will impress once behind the wheel.

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
8
Stuart Martin
Contributing Journalist

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Pricing Guide

$4,990

Lowest price, based on 28 car listings in the last 6 months

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