2011 Volkswagen Jetta: Supersize Me

This is the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta. It is larger and lighter than its predecessor. It was unveiled today at a beach in Times Square. Yes. A beach. UPDATE: Pricing/powertrain details plus pop star Katy Perry dancing on a car.

A picture of the '11 Jetta leaked yesterday, revealing a significant bump in size. The car was officially unveiled today in New York City's Times Square. Volkswagen went to great effort to install a sandy beach and a sodded (requisite cheap Anglophile joke: sodding?) lawn in the pedestrian area of the square last night, trucking in massive amounts of scenery and a large, awning-covered stage.

Also, Katy Perry sang "California Girls" and danced on a Jetta and dented its hood. And one of her guitar players had a guitar with a body made out of a piece of chrome tubing. Then Mario Batali came out, but I left — and so did most people — before he got into his act. (It was pretty humid, I had work to do, and my feet kind of hurt. What can I say?)

This is your 2011 Jetta:

2011 Volkswagen Jetta: Supersize Me

Larger, Bigger, More, More, More: The '11 Jetta does not share a platform with Volkswagen's Golf hatchback/sedan. It is 182.7 inches long, or more than 3.5 inches longer than its predecessor. These numbers, taken from the press release, are for the European-market Jetta, but VW neglected to mention this in its printed material. The U.S.-spec car will offer a wheelbase roughly 3.0 inches longer than the current car. GLI models receive multilink independent rear suspension, but all other Jettas make do with a beam axle.

Here's the real news, though: Despite being larger than the car that came before it, the '11 Jetta is claimed to be roughly 100 pounds lighter when identically optioned.

Drivetrain: Specifics are thin at the moment, but four engines will be available at launch, including a 2.0-liter, common-rail turbodiesel producing 236 lb-ft of torque and a claimed 0-60 mph time of 8.6 seconds. A 2.5-liter gasoline five-cylinder, a 2.0-liter gas turbo four, and a 2.0-liter diesel four will be offered; the company's storied eight-valve, 2.0-liter four — an engine known to VW freaks as the "two point slow" — also makes an appearance, this time in 115-hp trim. A manual transmission is standard, and Volkswagen's six-speed, twin-clutch DSG gearbox will be offered on certain models.

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Interior: Legroom is up. Everything is new. It's pretty. It's clean. It's tasteful. There's lots of room in back — VW claims a 2.6-inch gain in legroom. We kind of miss the coziness of the old car. Other details as they arrive.

Pricing: Around $16,000. Although Volkswagen representatives are talking in broad strokes — the press release only mentions that the price will be "around $16,000" — the Jetta's MSRP is rumored to be a rock-bottom $14,995. At that price, the Jetta won't include air-conditioning or a radio; according to company officials, the number is aimed at "a certain type of Internet buyer." They expect most base Jettas to clock in around sixteen grand.

On Sale: October.

Why the Heck is it Bigger and Cheaper? In the words of one Volkswagen official, "We really want to get on the shopping list of people buying Civics and Corollas. People have traditionally seen Volkswagens as being too expensive; we now offer class-leading rear-seat legroom and an attainable price."

Make of that what you will.