Volkswagen Jetta (2006-2010) review
The Jetta is not the most charismatic product, but it is extremely practical.
The Jetta shares all its mechanical parts with the Golf, so engines are just as efficient and capable. The 2.0-litre T-FSI 200 Sport shares an engine with the Golf GTI, and almost matches it for performance! But it's the TDI diesels that will sell in greatest numbers; while they’re noisy, particularly the older 1.9-litre, all are very efficient and boast punchy manners. Gearboxes are positive and all the controls are well-weighted. Just as the Golf has impressive dynamics, so too does the Jetta, offering sure-footed handling. Grip is excellent and manners at the limit of adhesion are decent. In fact, with strong brakes and nicely weighted steering, the Jetta matches the Golf’s driver appeal, too.
VW certainly gives customers plenty of choice as to which Golf suits their lifestyle. Yet all the many versions share a common appearance: thus, the Jetta four-door saloon’s front end is identical to the Golf hatch. But not just any Golf. By using the full-length chrome-effect grille from the R32, the company has cleverly managed to distinguish the Jetta from other models. What’s more, the unique side panels have the high shoulder line and tight shut gaps that give all VW and Audi predicts their robust look. At the rear, the Jetta shares its jewel-like tail lights with the Passat. Unlike its bigger brighter, the number plate sits on the boot rather than down on the bumper, but otherwise the two are virtually identical. It may lack excitement, but the Jetta boasts an upmarket feel. Saloon versions of family hatchbacks used to abound, but not nowadays. The Jetta’s most obvious rivals the Mazda 3 saloon and Renault Megane Sport Saloon; Ford, Vauxhall and Peugeot all don’t offer four-door versions of their popular models.
The interior is lifted straight from the hatch – no bad thing, as it means the car benefits from an ergonomically simple dash layout and a wide range of steering wheel and seat adjustment. The materials used are also excellent, while build quality is top drawer. Massive door pockets, a dash-top tray and a well designed transmission tunnel mean there’s plenty of stowage, too. Overall, the cabin is pleasant and comfortable, and details such as the lovely blue and red instrument lighting ensure that it has a very attractive feel. Where it really scores is in boot space, however. The 527-litre load capacity is so large, it’s even an amazing 42 litres up on the larger Passat! A wide boot opening, split-fold rear seats and a ski hatch ensures this VW is nearly as practical as a five-door. There’s even a practical hook that swings down from the boot roof, for carrying shopping bags. The rear cabin is spacious as well, with decent legroom and good headroom. Prices are generally decent value too, with the Jetta coming in at around £1,000 less than the equivalent Passat. Residuals are also impressive, though not quite as good as the more popular Golf. For best returns, choose a diesel.