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VW Jetta: Test drive Review

Date: 06 July 2011   |   Author:

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £19,475
Key rival: Volvo S40

The Volkswagen Jetta saloon massively outsells the hatchback Golf in America, yet in Europe it is very much unloved while the Golf's status is like that of one of the most popular kids in school.

Last year, the Volkswagen Golf was the fourth most popular fleet model on sale in the UK; the Jetta didn't make the top 100.

While that won't change overnight, potential buyers for the latest Jetta will find a car that is significantly more than a Golf with a boot. The body panels aren't shared with any other model, and the wheelbase is 73mm longer than the previous version, all bar 6mm of which has gone into the rear legroom. And

that really shows. There's a huge amount of room for rear passengers, and even the tallest drivers won't find themselves cramping the rear space of adults sat behind them. The legroom hasn't come at the expense of boot space either. At 510 litres, the Jetta outpoints its only real saloon rival, Volvo's S40, by more than 100 litres, and a Golf hatchback can only offer 350 litres. (The mainstream brands have quietly dropped saloon models from their lower medium offerings, leaving only the volume-premium brands to play.) The Volvo does, though, fight back on the emissions and economy front, with its 115hp engine offering 99g/km and 74.3mpg against the Jetta's 105hp, 109g/km and 67.3mpg.

VW has pitched the Jetta to be very appealing on price. More than £500 cheaper than the equivalent Golf and £2500 cheaper than the closest rival Volvo S40, this 1.6 diesel SE trim level looks to be excellent value. It's going to be the most popular individual version too, according to VW, taking around 28% of sales. The firm predicts those sales will be around the 3000 mark next year, around double last year's Jetta achievement, with 55% being into the corporate market.

Specification is reasonable without being generous, and includes aircon, cruise control and alloys but no Bluetooth, while the driving experience is sound and unspectacular, just as you'd expect a Golf to be and just as this category of car demands. The engine feels more powerful than the figures suggest, and won't leave drivers feeling

short-changed, especially given the sub-110g/km emissions. While there is a 2.0 140hp version, the 1.6 will satisfy most drivers.

The appealing pricing, combined with a residual value slightly better than the Golf Match trim it can be compared with, means the Jetta beats its more established and better-loved hatchback sibling, as well as trouncing the more expensive Volvo.

The new Jetta probably won't find that many corporate sector homes, but the price, understated class and low running costs will make for a satisfying ownership experience for those that seek it out.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 TDI SE
P11D price£19,475
Model price range£16,965-£22,325
Fuel consumption67.3mpg
CO2 (tax) 109g/km/13%
BIK 20/40% per month£42/£84
Service intervalvariable mls
Insurancegroup 13
Boot space510 litres
Engine size/power1598cc/105hp
Top speed/0-62mph118mph/11.7secs
On sale May 2011
VerdictFleet-friendly with
appealing price and
low running costs


Fleet-friendly with appealing price and low running costs