Newer is better as an accepted adage; change is the only constant, and so on. With the new BS-IV norms in place, VW has given its Jetta saloon a new heart. Is the ‘new’ Jetta better? When you walk up to the car, you’d be hard pressed to tell what’s new. Upon close examination, you’ll notice the grille has two twin chrome strips instead of two solid strips earlier. All in all, the subtle understated looks remain. The interiors are the same too, save for a new touch screen audio system which comes from the common VW parts bin. The build quality and tactile feel are first rate, although the staid design might not appeal to all.
So, nothing major about the looks or interiors then. The big news is what’s under the bonnet. The 1986 CRDi motor, which also does duty in the Skoda family, has been slotted into the ‘new’ Jetta’s engine bay. It comes with a manual gearbox only which produces 110 PS. The 140 PS version and DSG aren’t even options.
Turn the key and you’re greeted to a slightly gruff note, but vibrations are almost non-existent. In fact, the Jetta has one of the most refined cabins of any car at this price point. Slot the excellently weighted and precise gear lever into the first and you can sense immediately that the car you’re driving has exemplary engineering. Performance wise, the new Jetta remains pretty close to its earlier avatar, but you sense more urgency while overtaking and turbo lag has been reduced greatly. At anything over 1200rpm, the Jetta motors comfortably, although there’s a sweet spot between 2000-3000rpm. The well-spaced gear ratios make pedalling this car a breeze.
It steers and stops in a fuss-free manner which inspires great confidence behind the wheel. In fact, over any distance, the way the Jetta cruises makes it a very quick car point to point. The combination of its attributes, namely the refined and torquey motor, well-weighted controls, flexible and comfortable ergonomics and good ground clearance for Indian roads together conspire to make this a very easy and fatigue-free car to drive.
In our test, the Jetta returned an overall economy rating of 13.8kmpl, which while competent is less than what the earlier pump duse motor managed.
This may cause the odd frown, but don’t judge this car purely on its fuel efficiency. It is thoroughly engineered and beautifully built. If we have a grouse, it’s that the Jetta doesn’t have rear parking sensors. For such a well-equipped car, we cannot fathom why this oversight. Overall, the Jetta is a competent, complete car that more than justifies Volkswagen’s advertising tagline of ‘Das Auto’, German for ‘the car’.