Writing a car review is never as hard as calculating the force of a jet water when it hits an inclined plane, for yours truly. However, this case is exceptional. After driving the Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSi, I found it tough on describing the places where the Jetta stands out and its weaknesses. Don't get me wrong, the Jetta is never a bad choice. It's a well balanced car in most of the aspects, and I guess you'll have to continue reading this post to understand what I'm trying to describe here.
People will call the Jetta as plain vanilla (coincidently the test drive unit is white-in-colour), simple design which doesn't help make it a head turner like some other C-segments such as Honda Civic. However, the design is uncluttered and it even brings along a tad of elegance. All in all, the Jetta is beautiful in its own way by being simple.
For your information, Jetta is built based on an extended platform of Golf. Don't jump into conclusion by saying that Jetta is just a Golf with a boot strapped on! Volkswagen announced that the Jetta is an entirely new product, meaning no parts are shared with the Golf. Therefore the Jetta is lucky not to have a disproportioned body from the usual hatchback-to-sedan transformation. I would appreciate if the Jetta has chrome finishing on the window line, or at least on the door handles to give the Jetta a more upmarket feel.
The similar design theme is also applied for the cabin. Minimalist dashboard design in black gave the cabin a gloomy environment. Thankfully, there are few chromes in the cabin to cheer things up. On the bright side, the simple design of the instrument panel and center console are easy to look at and everything is well within reach, sign of good ergonomics. Not to mention the excellent build quality of the cabin.
The powerhouse of the Jetta is the 1.4 TSi which produces 160bhp and 240Nm of torque from as low as 1750rpm. It is the same engine found in the Mk6 Golf, and this engine (brief explanation of the engine can be found in my Golf 1.4 TSi review) is capable of producing fun and be economical at the same time! Volkswagen claimed that the Jetta is the most powerful car in its segment, and I have to agree on this. I remember reading an article about Jetta achieving a range of 350km by using only half a tank of fuel, so I believe the fuel consumption of the Jetta should be quite satisfying as well.
I'm not a 6-foot British automotive TV programme host but the engine is strong enough to satisfy the inner racer boy of me. Under the humble and modest skin is a beast soul, mated to a 7-speed DSG gearbox which shifts gear as fast as lightning (almost). A tap on the accelerator will activate the 240Nm of torque when the engine reaches around 1700rpm, making it hard to believe that it is only a 1.4litre engine fixed under the hood.
Handling wise, I would say the Jetta falls between the engaging Honda Civic and the comfort-oriented Toyota Altis. The Jetta is composed and planted on the road when making turns at high speed. The steering was direct and well weighted. The power of German engineering. The seats are also supportive, capable of holding you in place when you decide to get things a little bit rough.
In terms of comfort, I dare to comment that it is on par with Toyota Altis and Nissan Sylphy, if not better. The suspension was able to absorb humps and bumps well while remain composed on the road. Refinement is one of the best in its class, I barely can hear any noise that intruded the cabin other than the engine when I step on the pedal hard.
Selling at RM150,000, it is priced about RM20k more than its closest Japanese competitors. However, it should be justified that Volkswagen is a more premium brand and the Jetta comes with more features than its competitors, for instance 6 airbags, hill-hold control, dual-zone air conditioning and auto dimming interior mirror. There are explanation for most of the cons, and I had a tough time trying to find any major fault in the Jetta, which there isn't any.
+ Build quality, comfort, refinement.
- No real negatives!
Photos credit to Jayren!
*Check out my other reviews on Volkswagen:
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSi
Volkswagen Passat CC
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