By Stewart Smith on 2011-02-14 - Stewart was the former motoring editor of the Coventry Telegraph and is now a freelance contributor to Eurekar. He is based in Scotland and specialises in First Drive reviews.
VW puts boot in with
IN the past the Volkswagen Jetta was considered by many to be merely a Golf with a boot.
But the all-new German saloon, which is about to be launched in the UK, is anything but.
The latest Jetta has a distinctive style of its own and not one panel on the booted family car is the same as the big selling Golf.
The Jetta is placed between the Golf and the Passat and will be an attractive proposition for those motorists who prefer a large luggage load space but not in hatchback form.
In fact the new Jetta is bigger in many respects, having a longer wheelbase than the previous model and back seat passengers will feel the benefit of an additional 7cm of leg room.
The boot has also been expanded to offer a very useful 510 litres of load space plus 60:40 split folding rear seats.
As far as styling goes the new Jetta is a step up from the previous model, and although I can't say it has the "wow" factor, it has nice clean lines and with a lower roof line and simple but effective straight line body creases giving it a sportier look.
It is a style which will be just as up to date and modern five or six years down the line.
As you would expect, the build quality on the new model is first class with only the best fit and finish being applied by VW.
There's plenty of head a leg room front and back and the seating is firm and supportive.
Instrument layout is simple and logical with everything coming easily to hand for the driver, and passengers. All-round vision is excellent.
This sixth generation Jetta was unveiled in the USA where it has proved a big hit with 123,000 sales already, but for the UK it has been fitted with a more sophisticated multilink rear suspension, electro-mechanical steering and a more advanced engine line-up to suit European driving conditions.
Engines offered are two petrol 1.4-litre units producing 122 bhp and 160 bhp. Both should provide adequate power and offer frugal fuel use.
The diesel power comes from a 1.6-litre TDI 105 bhp unit equipped with BlueMotion technology modifications and a 2.0-litre TDI engine developing 140 bhp.
The BlueMotion example includes a Stop-Start and battery regeneration system and with these the 1.6 variant is capable of returning a claimed 67 mpg on a combined run while emitting just 109 g/kg of carbon dioxide.
The 1.6 TDI 105 bhp version has a claimed 0-62 mph sprint time of 11.7 seconds and the 2.0 TDI comes in at 10 seconds dead.
On the European launch I drove both diesel versions, the 1.6 TDI with five-speed manual gear change and the 2.0-litre with its seven-speed automatic gearing.
Both offered slick gear changing and on the smooth roads in the South of France the Jetta was very settled and handled superbly with a distinct absence of road, engine or wind noise.
On potholed UK roads it won't be quite as serene!
The new Jetta comes in three trim levels: S, SE and Sport, but even the S comes with a fair list of basic equipment including climate control, electric windows all round, six airbags, electronic stability programme, daytime running lights, anti-lock brakes, Isofix points, adjustable steering wheel, central locking and much more.
The car is available to order in February with first customer deliveries taking place in May.
Prices for the Jetta are estimated to start at £17,000 for the 1.4-litre TSI 122 bhp model. The predicted best seller, and due to account for around 28 per cent of all sales in the UK, is the S 1.6-litre TDI 105 bhp which is expected to cost £18,500.
Although UK drivers have never been over-keen on booted cars in this segment, the style, quality and practicality of this latest Volkswagen could change their views.
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