Volkswagen Jetta Review
Car Tested: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta Facelift
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 16.55 – 24.27 lakhs
The subtle changes on the Jetta adds some class to the already classy German sedan
Volkswagen is largely known in India for its two crucial models – Polo and Vento. These offerings give the Indian buyers a taste of German engineering while being affordable to own and run at the same time. What goes unnoticed for the masses is the Volkswagen Jetta, which is in its sixth generation and is being offered in India since its fifth generation. This mid-size premium sedan has seen a small set of buyers including some enthusiasts or people obsessed with German machines. It happens because at this price range, most of the Indian buyers start craving for SUVs. Now Volkswagen has updated the Jetta and we take a quick spin to see what’s new on offer.
Exteriors – Volkswagen’s design is all about simplicity. The German carmaker likes to keep the styling sedate yet elegant, which actually works well for a timeless design and the car doesn’t show its age too early with a model change. The new Jetta doesn’t get many changes on the exteriors but the mild tweaks make it look slightly fresh. At the front it gets a revised grille with spaced out chrome horizontal slats that now looks in sync with the revised bumper having similar airdam styling and new fog lamps. The bi-xenon headlights remain unchanged though. A revised headlight cluster with continual effect of LEDs would have looked classy here. The lower variants of the Jetta miss out on projectors and LED DRLs.
The new Jetta’s side profile is ditto as its pre-facelift model and there are absolutely no changes here. It doesn’t even get new alloy wheels, though it still looks good with the double-spoke pattern. The lower trims get a different set of sober looking alloys. The most significant changes are at the rear, which makes the new Jetta look like a proper Audi. Volkswagen has made changes on the tail gate to accommodate the sharp looking tail lights. The bumper also gets revised with clean lines. Special mention to the new Silk Blue Metallic colour that made us go wow, when we first saw it.
Interiors – Step inside the cabin and you would be disappointed with the interiors having no prominent changes. The only addition is the new flat-bottom steering wheel, also seen on the facelifted Polo and Vento. It gets paddle shifts for the Jetta and feels excellent to hold. The instrument cluster has been revised and now gets a Fatigue Detection System, which is apparently a not so important feature to have. However, the revised cluster has a 3D effect to it, which lifts the mood of the cabin. Everything else remains unchanged including the black and beige dashboard colour combination that looks good but with tacky wood accents running in the middle. Gloss black panels would have been appreciated instead of those out of place looking faux wood trims.
The centre console on the Jetta facelift gets the same touch screen infotainment system having 6 CD changer, AUX, Bluetooth connectivity and 8 speakers that sound crisp with tight bass. Touch sensitivity is average but pairing Bluetooth takes some time. You get a similar multimedia unit as the Vento in the lower variants of the Jetta. There is no sunroof on offer but you don’t feel the need of one as the cabin is pretty airy giving a good sense of space both at the front and rear. Legroom at the back is good enough for buyers who like to be driven around. Boot capacity is impressive, having 510-litres of space. In terms of quality, fit and finish, the Volkswagen Jetta is amongst the best in its class, everything feels good to touch and long lasting.
Performance – Volkswagen continues to offer the same engine options on the Jetta facelift – 1.4-litre TSI petrol and 2.0-litre TDI diesel. Unfortunately it doesn’t get the lip smacking 1.8-litre TSI offered on its Czech cousin, the Skoda Octavia. However, the 1.4-litre turbo petrol is powerful enough to give you goosebumps. Don’t go by the specifications reading 122 PS and 200 Nm, the 1.4 TSI is a rev happy unit that puts a wide grin on your face when you push the throttle. It’s a silky smooth engine and comes mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox that shifts effortlessly and returns a claimed fuel efficiency of 14.69 km/l. The 1.4 TSI is only offered in Trendline and Comfortline trims and there is no automatic transmission option.
The 2.0 TDI diesel engine is the master of providing strong thrust in a very refined manner
The 2.0-litre diesel engine produces the same power of 140 PS with 320 Nm torque. This oil burner feels like eating a watermelon without seeds. It pulls relentlessly from the word go with negligible turbo lag. The entire rev range is an ocean full of torque that leaves you spellbound once you go full throttle. Overtaking cars at high speeds takes no effort, just dab the throttle and it surges forward. NVH levels are impressive and the engine gets vocal only near the redline (5500 RPM), which doesn’t sound much crude to the ears. The Jetta also cruises very well doing 100 km/hr in top gear at 1800 RPM, which is the beginning of its torque curve and quite good for the highways.
Volkswagen offers both 6-speed DSG automatic and manual transmission options with the 2.0-litre TDI engine. The 6-speed DSG is a fun yet convenient transmission that comes with steering mounted paddle shifts to control the gears. It’s super slick and very intelligent with changing cogs and returns a claimed fuel efficiency of 16.96 km/l. We personally had more fun with the manual gearbox, as it lets you put the entire power and torque on tarmac with each gear. The shifts are butter smooth with a light clutch. However, the 6-speed DSG is the more sensible transmission option of the two in today’s world of congested city driving.
Driving Dynamics – The Volkswagen Jetta gets multi-link suspension as standard across all the engine options. The ride and handling balance that it offers is terrific as always. It has pure German drivability thanks to the taut and solid feeling suspension with brisk handling. The ride is on the stiffer side at low speeds but very well damped and as the speed increases, it gets flatter and there is no vertical movement. The Jetta absorbs bumps, potholes and harsh tarmac maturely and hardly did we feel any clunky noise filtering through. It’s based on the PQ71 platform that offers excellent handling, which is fun around the ghats. The car stays glued to its line and is confidence inspiring at any speeds. The steering is light and weighs up well according to the speed giving precise feedback. Braking is effective with precise pedal bite and feedback.
Verdict – Having driven the Volkswagen Jetta in city traffic, highway straights and twisty ghat sections, we can easily say that it’s a gem of a car to drive. The sprightly performance of the engine combined with pinpoint handling makes it a pleasurable car for enthusiasts. Volkswagen hasn’t done any mechanical changes to the facelift, which is good because it needs none but a more significant visual upgrade would have done wonders to the car. Having said that, the subtle tweaks on the exteriors pass through as a cool and fresh breeze. The same dashboard looks dated but the cabin is fairly luxurious with premium touches and adequate equipment on offer. We can’t say about the SUV lovers but for people who want a sensible car at this price bracket, you must consider the new Jetta in your list.
The facelifted Volkswagen Jetta gets a harmonised front profile with a new grille and bumper. The rear gets Audi-esque styling cues. On the inside there are no drastic changes except the new instrument cluster and flat-bottom steering wheel. Engine options remain unchanged and the Jetta continues to be a pleasurable car to drive.
* Revised styling gives it a mature and premium appearance
* New flat-bottom steering wheel feels good to hold and has paddle shifts
* Updated instrument cluster is more interactive now
* Cabin is spacious with rich quality materials
* 2.0-litre TDI is powerful and NVH levels are top-notch
* Sweet balance of ride and handling
* 6 airbags, ABS, ESP with 5-star Euro NCAP rating makes it a safe car
What’s Not So Cool
* The changes are quite minimal and the side profile is relatively unchanged
* The dashboard looks quite dated compared to its rivals
* The Bluetooth setup takes time and there is no USB connectivity
* No sunroof, even on the Highline trim
* 1.8 TSI engine not offered while Octavia gets it
* DSG gearbox reliability unknown
* Volkswagen after sales service
Alternatives: Skoda Octavia, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Renault Fluence
Further Reading –