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Reader review: VW Jetta 1.2 TSI

2013-01-16 15:00

JETTA SETTER:Theo Kruger recons his 2011 Jetta FSI's features list is unrivaled by other car in its class.


Towards the end of 2012 I made the decision to (finally) upgrade my wheels. My wine-red (do NOT say “maroon”) Ford Focus had been a part of my life since 2004 and it was about time that the old girl was granted the opportunity to retire.

For eight years the Focus had provided me with hassle-free and reliable driving but a change was needed (read: wanted)...  And so the search began.

A few brands and models made the shortlist:
•    Mazda 3 (If you read my previous submission to Wheels24, you will probably recall my passion for the Zoom-Zoom brand)
•    Kia Rio 1.4 (seemed quite fancy on paper)
•    Hyundai Accent 1.6 Auto (reliable, loaded and within budgetary constraints)
•    VW Polo 1.6 Comfortline (judging by the numerous Polo’s spotted on the roads today, they have to be good, eh?)

When I set out upon this mission, I was in the market for a new vehicle: one that would be MINE right from the start.  And I was after that new-car-smell (I might as well add).


Mazda offered me 80% LESS than the book value of the Focus, so that was a no-go (even though they had some pretty enticing discounted offers on the table at the time).  Kia was an utter disappointment: even after scheduling an appointment with the sales executive in Randfontein the particular Rio I spotted hadn’t even been cleaned!

The battery cables weren’t connected either – no test-drive this car then! (Not to mention the “waiting list”). Hyundai proved to be as unreliable as a cat. After sending my details from the Hyundai website one evening, I was contacted by three different dealers the very next day.  They wanted my money, yes, but well...  there’s a waiting list as well!  (What's the point of focusing so much effort on contacting me only to tell me that the vehicle I’m looking for is not available in the first place?).  And no, sir, I am NOT looking for a three-year-old i30 either.

My brother then suggested I include add a few demo models (pre-owned, however you want to label it).  he web helped in the sense that I could see what was available on the market and that’s where it stopped.  As soon as I spotted a car I liked, I would call the dealer only to be told that the car had been sold. So it was with a little tribulation that I ventured to the local VW dealer in search of something that would be a) affordable, b) likeable and c) available.  I wasn't expecting much, in other words.  


I parked right at the Mastercars section of the Gateway VW Dealership in Carletonville and the very first car that caught my eye was a silver Jetta.  It was a late 2011 model but with less than 24 000km done on the clock. Even better – The PRICE I was greeted by an extremely friendly saleslady, who immediately got me the keys to the vehicle so that I could have a closer look.

I climbed in, and was immediately impressed by the workmanship of the interior.  

The badge at the rear of the car simply said “TSi”, so there was no indication relating to the engine size etc. To my dismay, it was a “mere” 1.2 TSi, so I was immediately apprehensive about performance.  Michelle (the sales executive) simply said: “Let’s take it for a drive before you make any judgements...”

To make a long story short: one week later I took ownership of my 2011 Jetta 1.2 TSi Trendline and I haven't regretted a thing since.  I've always aspired to own a VW and now that I'm the (very) proud owner of one, I can understand the hype. The Germans know how to build cars, I realise that now.

Some may find the “simplicity” of the interior a little dull but to me this is what sets the Jetta apart from its rivals. Everything is in the right place, within easy reach. The quality of the materials used for the dashboard can be compared to the likes of some of the other German brands (clearly influenced by Audi).  


Even though I drive the “baby” model, my car is loaded with extras you're not likely to find in other cars in this class: automatic lights, rain-sensing wipers, automatic dimming interior mirror, one-touch operation for ALL the windows, full on-board computer system, electrically operated (and heatable) side mirrors, simply fantastic sound system (with eight speakers and auxiliary inputs), hill-assist (no more using your handbrake when stopping at an incline) and steering-mounted controls which controls the radio functions as well as the on-board computer system. Oh, I almost forgot the Bluetooth!

Where this car has truly won me over, is with the amazing engineering that has gone into the little 1.2-litre engine. The Jetta tips the scales at just over 1300kg, so one would expect that this little engine would be a little lethargic in moving a car of this size. To put things in perspective: VW has somehow managed (with the obvious use of a turbocharger) to engineer this little engine in such a way that a peak output of 77kW (at a relatively low 5000rpm and low-down torque of 175Nm (which becomes available from 1500-4000rpm) This translates into some pretty impressive performance.

Sure, the baby of the bunch is not going to win you any races, but there's more than enough oomph to move the Jetta along quite easily. Overtaking is a breeze (depending on the situation, some down-gearing might be required, but the little 1.2 does a fine job)
I used to be impressed when a car was able to achieve an average consumption rate of between 7.8-8.5 litres/100km.

This is where my Jetta 1.2 comes into its own. On the open road, the consumption drops to as little as 5.1/100 and combined (town driving), the consumption has not once gone over 6.8. With a 55-litre tank, it is quite possible to drive more than 800km on a single tank


“Space” (aplenty) has become synonymous with Jetta,and the Jetta 6 does not disappoint.  Interior space is class-leading, and the boot cavernous (I was quite tempted to test the echo-effect one day...).  With luggage space at 510 litres, it’s quite strange when you are single and only pack one suitcase or weekend bag when going away – it’s almost like it disappears! 

As the baby of the line-up, my Jetta does not come with leather seats, but the cloth-covered seats are comfortable and provide just the right amount of grip.  Besides not having leather seats, the baby of the bunch does come with a host of standard safety features: six airbags (driver, passenger, side,curtain), ABS, stability control, emergency brake assistance and and electronic differential lock. It also achieved a five-star safety rating.

For the first time in a very long time I wake up in the morning excited. I look forward to getting behind the wheel. I find excuses to go on long trips.  When I close the door, it feels like “home”.

Das Auto. The Car. The car I was meant to own.

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