Review: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SE

Posted on 04. Feb, 2011 by in Auto News

General Motors, Volkswagen and Hyundai are all pie hungry for a much bigger share of North American compact sedan. Your past does not offer to do the trick. So all three recently introduced cars much different than their predecessors. After examining the Cruze a few months ago, and the Elantra last week, I was curious to see how the new Jetta, VW attempt to give Americans what we want really seem stacked.

It should be no surprise that the new Jetta is nothing special to see come. Finally, the five previous generations, could be only the fourth as stylish. The fifth too much resembled a contemporary Corolla. The first three generations were conventionally designed three-box sedan, and the sixth returns to those roots. Besides the fact that were seen during the early Jettas VW Golf-essentially the icon is grafted with a large trunk on the new car is completely anonymous and forgotten. But why does the new Jetta seems so simple, and cheap? The exterior design of the upcoming new Passat, VW also somewhat cynical interpretation of the North American taste is driven, is also safe, but looks more polished and upscale. Hyundai increased sales demonstrate the attractiveness of the highly stylized cars that are more expensive than they actually are.

The new Jetta is styled much like the inside of the previous car, but done with all-too-obviously lower quality materials. The door panels, the vinyl upholstery that looks and feels everything HVAC cheapest in class. The brighter the color, which tend to appear cheaper materials, so that the washed-beige in the tested car is not the best choice for the new Jetta.

The driver's seat initially feels oddly shaped and a bit mushy. Only the top SEL trim level an adjustable lumbar support, the SE front bucket seats missing in this area. But they do offer better lateral support than most in the class. Often without the compromises imposed by a stylish exterior, the visibility is good in all directions. The beltline is low enough that it does not make sense to bury the car.

Switch to discover the back seat and the first of the 2011 Jetta surprises. The new car is three inches longer than the old (182.2 vs. 179.3), and almost all of this increase has rear legroom (now 38.1 inches, from 35.4) assigned. While the new Hyundai Elantra is a medium car on EPA classifications and the Jetta is a compact, high adults are much more comfortable in the back seat. The Cruze's back office is not in the same league.

For the sixth generation Jetta base engine, VW resurrected the 115-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder in the last of the fourth generation car (and outdated even then) offered. Want to examine the car in its best light, I went (known as it is not quite lovingly) on the "two-point-slow" and asked for a car with the 170-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine and manual transmission, a five-speed. I have. Never been a fan of five-cylinder engines in the past as they tend to sound agricultural But in the new Jetta, the five sounds smoother, and I enjoyed listening. Its lower, husky voice more than just about any of the four As in the past, the VW is about 2.5 in the mid-range torque, not high-end performance, but for anything short 8/10s it works very well. The shift lever is not tight and precise, but some thoughts seems like it feels, which makes it better than most who get these days.

I can not report observed fuel economy, since only the SEL board computer one. The EPA esimates 23 city / 33 highway, much better than the old car 21/30, but far from the Elantra is 29/40. Of course, you get a much bigger, much torquier engine, but the 2.0 managed only 24/34. If you are interested in fuel economy in a Jetta, the TDI (30/42) is the obvious choice.

The data show that VW has sacrificed for the sake of handling costs and curb weight than the previous torsion multi-link rear axle replaced. And yet, even shod with the SE 205/55HR16 Hankook Optimo tires, the new Jetta does significantly better than the new Hyundai Elantra. Perhaps it is just too long since I drove a MkV GLI been, but also in SE trim I enjoyed the handling of the new Jetta more. With the previous car VW, the feel of a premium car tried available and except in the most aggressive driving, it felt a bit isolated and deaf as a result. The new car could be longer, but at just over £ 3,000 (with five) is also 200 pounds lighter, and feels it. Given the tire and moderate tuning of the new Jetta SE limits are not high, but the feedback through the seat and steering wheel so much better than the class average and the chassis does so intuitive that driving it is right up to these limits one breeze. The Jetta, the steering feels a bit loose and light, before he died, of course, but hinted weights up in the curves-the total opposite of the Elantra system. Reach the Jetta boundary where understeer predictable overloads the outside front tire and non-defeatable stability control kicks in. Locking stability control would be better for enthusiasts, but at least this system seems well calibrated and is not overly intrusive. To treat with lower tires and a sport suspension, the Jetta SEL with Sport package even better, but for once I did not feel like an upgrade was necessary. As it stands, the Jetta SE is very pleasant to drive.

Partly because the suspension is damped only moderately tight, but professionally, the Jetta SE rides very well, smoothly absorb bumps and maintain his composure over uneven pavement. The simplified rear suspension has no readily apparent adverse effects. Hyundai should. Benchmark this car when revising the Elantra's suspension One off-note: over bumps in hard corners of the new Jetta front suspension twice produces a loud bang. The reason was not clear. In general, noise levels are quite low, although not as low as in the previous, more luxurious, heavier cars.

Another surprise about the cheaper new Jetta: If equipped as the previous Jetta, it's not really cheaper. The base 2.0 trim at the start might be a startling $ 14,995. (Plus $ 770 for destination), but an SE with the 2.5 and optional sunroof lists for $ 21,565 The 2010 SE, with its beautiful interior and slightly higher functions (eg, rear disc brakes, power seats, adjustable lumbar support and manual adjustments), listed for $ 21,145. A special limited edition model with almost as many features cost even less, $ 20,045. Based on the comparison with True Delta car price comparison tool, the new Jetta 2.5 about the same as the similarly strong Mazda3 s is adjusted for differences in prices. An Elantra costs less, while a Chevrolet Cruze costs more.

For example, Volkswagen has successfully to the North American compact sedan buyers targeted? I enjoyed driving a lot more than I expected, but the Americans have repeatedly shown that superior handling is not worth much to them. They care more about ride quality, but while the Jetta drives very well has not the sound and feel of a premium cars there. Aside from its underwhelming engines porky Chevrolet Cruze is now king of the hill. Even if the new Jetta has sound and feel expensive, it looks cheap, especially on the inside. Ironically, while GM has been benchmarking the previous Jetta in designing the interior of the Chevrolet Cruze VW was a big step in the opposite direction. Car interiors were made largely responsible for the descent of both GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, it's a shock for VW, producer of the former Benchmark see now to make this mistake. To top it off, the car has been very cheap, but if properly equipped, it's not really cheaper.

In the end, we have one thing that Americans and the Jetta delivers doubt: rear seat legroom. Is that enough? If people simply on the idea (though not so much the news) will be drawn from $ 15,000 German-engineered car, apparently so Jetta sales are this year.

Vehicle provided by Dan Kelley, Suburban VW in Farmington Hills, MI, 248-741-7903

Michael Karesh operates True Delta, an online source of automotive pricing and reliability data