Volkswagen Jetta review
The Golf-based VW Jetta saloon is bigger and better than ever, and new diesels give low emissions and big MPG
The Volkswagen Jetta is best described as a saloon version of the Golf. It has never been a favourite of us hatchback loving Brits, but with a stretched wheelbase and sharper styling the latest version could change all that. Under the bonnet you'll find VW’s established line up of TDI and TSI engines feature, while at the rear, the 510-litre boot is huge. Opt for the 1.6-litre TDI BlueMotion Technology and you’ll get low emissions and a small thirst for fuel.
Our choice: Jetta 1.6-litre TDI SE BlueMotion Tech
Bigger and better looking than the car it replaces, the new Jetta features Volkswagen's familiar and conservative grille and front-end treatment. This blends nicely with a strong shoulder line and solid rear end. The Jetta is also 90mm longer than its predecessor, which helps give it greater road presence. In fact, the Jetta should be considered as a mini Passat rather than a Golf with traditional saloon boot. Entry-level S models make do with steel wheels and plastic trims, but the rest of the line-up benefits from alloy rims. As you’d expect inside, quality is hard to fault and the cabin boasts the same no-nonsense, easy-to-live-with layout as the Golf, giving a great driving position and logical dash.
With an established range of engines and secure handling, the Jetta feels like a Golf from behind the wheel. Produced in Mexico alongside American versions, European cars get multilink rear suspension and electric power steering to make sure they are dynamically up to scratch. Decent body control, smooth steering and a composed ride mean the saloon is good to drive. The 120bhp and 158bhp versions of the 1.4-litre TSI petrol offer decent performance, while diesel fans can choose between 104bhp 1.6-litre TDI and punchy 138bhp 2.0-litre TDI units.
The Jetta boasts the same five-star Euro NCAP safety rating as the Golf. Stability control, curtain airbags and whiplash-optimised headrests are standard across all three trims. With engines, components and fittings that are well proven in the Golf and other Volkswagen models, the Jetta is also a very safe bet when it comes to reliability.
Driver comfort is high and with a longer wheelbase than the Golf, the Jetta has impressive rear legroom. The middle seat is uncomfortable but the outer chairs are excellent for adult passengers. The dash is thoughtfully laid out, with deep door pocket storage and decent glovebox. The 510-litre boot is aided by rear seat back folds. SE and Sport versions get a 60/40 split fold bench and a load through ski hatch, while all models feature a shopping bag hook and a 12v power socket in the boot. From SE trim upwards you get a leather three-spoke wheel and MDI Multi Device Interface. Top spec Sport models feel more upmarket with footwell illumination and iridium dash inserts.
Available exclusively in BlueMotion Technology guise, the 1.6-litre TDI is the most efficient model in the line-up. The combination of standard stop/start and five-speed gearbox with taller ratios result in combined economy of 67mpg and CO2 emissions of 109g/km. Residuals across the range are not quite a match for the Golf, but it’s cheaper to buy than its hatch brother. VW’s fixed price servicing packages add to the car’s value-for-money appeal.