The Volkswagen (VW) Jetta in 2008, then the German auto giant’s second offering in India, was a car that suffered at the hands of the manufacturer’s behest. Obsessed with what was to follow in the form of Polo and Vento, the company refused to push the car that could have been a serious challenger in its segment.
As the Jetta starts its second innings, things are different. The company is on a growth trajectory and hence more likely to spend more time with the Jetta. But does the car still have the markings of a winner.
The Volkswagen group has embarked on a new design philosophy where all its cars look distinctly similar to each other. The new Jetta looks more chiselled and underplayed than the last one, but one will have to look closely to differentiate it especially with the Vento. The Jetta is now 90mm longer and also slightly wider. It looks very much like an executive sedan that it is meant to be, but the older version still had more character and verve to it. Its superior build quality however gives it the decisive edge even over its sibling Laura.
The styling is understated. There is more space at the rear and the rear AC vents are standard, a feature not available even in the top end variants of some of its competitors. It does suffer from a very pronounced A pillar that results in a significant blind spot but that really is only a niggle. Except for a USB port, which German carmakers refuse to provide, there is really nothing you would miss.
Drive and handling
A strong point with all VW cars, Jetta is powered only by a single 2.0 litre diesel engine that also drives the Passat and Laura. With a 320 NM torque that kicks in at a low rpm of 1750, it steams ahead without making a fuss and one would be hard pressed to find a rival that is difficult to overtake. The new car has beefed up suspension that handles Indian roads with elan and also a 6 speed gearbox that has made the car more fun. A near perfect sedan for the city and more so on the highway.
It is currently finding fewer takers as the segment below it offers everything that a consumer needs. As such, despite its pedigree, the Jetta would need to be marketed well for the sales numbers to do justice to its credentials.