Sedans and small cars are in a bad way right now as buyers flock to crossovers and SUVs, but they still matter at Volkswagen. In particular, the Jetta matters, as this Golf-with-a-trunk remains the brand’s best-selling vehicle. As VW seeks to recover from the diesel cheating mess, here’s the bigger, hopefully better Jetta it needs to get the job done.
First off: finally, yes, the Jetta is based on the MQB platform that underpins the MK7 Golf and several Audi models like the A3/S3 and TT. This is good because that happens to be probably the best small car architecture in the world, and also because the last Jetta was infamously built to cost and felt much less “ premium”—i.e., less German—than its predecessors. With any luck this will help the new Jetta handle, drive and feel better than it has in a while.
Second: it’s bigger! Because all new cars generally get bigger than their predecessors do now. Specifically it’s about two inches longer overall, with a 1.3-inch longer wheelbase; it also gains an inch in width.
Third: it’s cheaper! Ever so slightly! Really, not much! It starts at $18,545, which is a whole $100 cheaper than the last Jetta.
Under the hood, expect the 1.4-liter turbo four, here rated at 148 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. It won’t make the Jetta a legit sporty sedan, but it will be available in the U.S. with a six-speed manual (or eight-speed auto).
After the setbacks of Dieselgate, and long beset by a lack of products with wide mainstream appeal to Americans, VW is doing somewhat better lately. Its 2017 sales were up five percent year over year amid an industry wide downturn. The new Jetta should help even more with that.
It may not be the most thrilling car on the road, but it’s important to the VW bottom line. Bring on the GLI, I say. Or hell, even an R version. I’m allowed to dream.