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Latest VW Jetta driven

2011-09-02 08:22


Volkswagen added a model to its South African sedan line-up this week: enter the latest version of the Jetta that's been around in SA since 1980,

The Jetta has proved a rather popular model - albeit among the older generation - and VW doesn't seem to mind this mild criticism one little bit.

In the past the Jetta has been rebuked for appearing as "just a Golf with a boot" — clearly that’s not the case with this sixth generation model because “every visible internal and external panel is new”, I was told by the VW hierarchy at the launch in the Eastern Cape.

Hein Schafer, VW’s product marketing manager, told me: “Never has a Jetta been this large, this sporty or this independent. Just how independent can be judged from the fact that Jetta 6 doesn’t have any panels or component parts from the current Golf … we now have five sedans in our model line-up (Vivo, Polo, Jetta, Passat and the CC).”


The Jetta has proved a rather successful model for VW and can stand tall in its own right because globally more than 10-million have been built — with 260 000 finding a home in our local market since their introduction back in 1980. 

Some 90mm longer at 4.64m, along with a wheelbase increase of 7mm to 2.65m, means a bigger Jetta for all.

There are seven models of this Jetta in five engine configurations. The petrol offerings are: 1.2 TSi (77kW), 1.4 TSi (90kW), 1.4 TSi (118kW). Two diesel units make their mark in the form of a 1.6-litre TDi version (77kW) and a top-of-the-range two-litre derivative (103kW) with their appetite for grabbing horizons.

Factor in three spec levels - Trendline, Comfortline and Highline - and it’s little wonder that VW reckons it has a car for everbody. I was a little surprised to be told the "volume seller" was almost certain to be the 90kW TSi but I tend to disagree, especially after driving the 1.6 TDi version, because the astute South African motorist is definitely warming to the idea of a turbodiesel vehicle standing on their driveway …

As is often the case, the chance just wasn’t there to drive every model at launch, but I did manage three. My co-driver and I opted initially for the keys to a 118kW, 1,4-litre TSi for the 280km trip along the Garden Route to our destination. With 240Nm of torque, it’s quite obvious it’s a relatively high-performance package, while rapid gearchanges were executed via a precise and solid-feeling six-speed manual ’box...


Build quality is superb, judging by the absence of rattles inside, outside or even under the car. Incidentally, all Jettas are built in Mexico. This particular Jetta is certainly quick and exceptionally taut, allowing it to sprint to 100km/h in 8.2sec.Top speed is largely academic at 221km/h,but the handling and driving dynamics were certainly tested and remained top-drawer while away from the N2 highway, thanks largely to the electro-mechanical power-steering system fitted across the range.

SIMPLY DARK: Volkswagen's family influence is visible in the new Jetta's cabin.

Quite different driving characteristics were to be found in the two-litre turbodiesel with its haul-ass performance. It may not be quite as agile as the TSi but ,with a tank range offering of 900km at the legal speed limit, you could drive this particular model all day and never feel tired. Little wonder the Jetta range was ostensibly designed for those whose job might entail plenty of driving - a company rep, for instance.

As alluded to earlier, the 1.6 turbodiesel would be my choice. Time was never going to be on our side in our quest to catch the plane home and we needed to press on... At 120km/h, the trip data computer gently informed us that our expected average fuel consumption on the return trip rarely rose above 5.4 litres/100km, with the engine turning over at a lazy 1950rpm.


Across the board are five and six-speed manual gearboxes. The 1.6-litre TDi version does, however, have the option of a seven-speed DSG box - surely another very good reason to consider this derivative …

The dreaded options list (assuming your company will be paying for the car) might cause the company secretary to tremble just a little. An electric sunroof costs R6630; five-CD changer, R4 000; leather seats, R12 080. The one extra that I would certainly go for, though, is a 230V Euro power plug (first seen on VW's new Passat) fitted to the back of the centre console at a cost of R950.  Perfect for charging laptops or maybe warming up that pizza in your portable microwave while on the move!

Other optional features include parking radar, Bluetooth phone connection, satnav a towball (unavailable for 1.2 TSI), xenon headlights and dual-zone aircon.,

With the recent arrival of the VW Passat you might have thought that the Jetta was "too close" to its bigger sibling when considering prices and style. Pricewise, though, there isn’t an overlap on the other side of the Jetta in the shape of the Polo.  No, what we have here is definitely three very different vehicles, methinks.


A three-year or 120 000km warranty and VW's five-year or 90 000 km service plan are standard. Jetta's petrol and diesel models need servicing only every 15 000 km. There’s also a 12-year anti-rust through warranty.

To sum up, I’d say if you're a six-day-a-week travelling salesman or rep and have the need of the biggest cargo-carrying boot in its class (at 510 litres - and  who doesn’t, come annual holiday time?) while enjoying a thoroughly classy mode of transport, the new Jetta is surely well worth a closer look.

PRICES (VAT and emissions tax included)
1.2 TSi 77kW Trendline  -  R222 000
1.4 TSi 90kW Trendline  -  R234 500
1.4 TSi  90kW Comfortline  -  R244 500
1.6 TDi 77kW Comfortline  -  R259 500
1.6 TDi 77kW Comfortline DSG  -  R274 000
1.4 TSi 118kW Highline  -  R274 500
2.0 TDi 103kW Highline  -  R297 200


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