The Volkswagen Jetta has been one of my favourites ever since I first test drove an earlier 5th generation on about ten years ago – at that time, the Jetta was basically a Golf with a rear boot added on. Powered then by a 2.0 litre engine and a 6-speed automatic transmission, the Jetta impressed with its extremely good fuel consumption and excellent driving dynamics. The sixth generation Jetta which saw production from 2010 saw an extended wheelbase which led to different body panels from that in the Golf – the Jetta thus took on a different path, to become a C-segment car. At the same time, the sixth generation also saw the introduction of a down-sized 1.4 litre twin-charged engine (with a supercharger and turbocharger) that further improved fuel economy, but yet produced more horsepower. The latest version Jetta engine is identical to that in the 1.4 litre Golf TSi, which is now powered by only a single turbo-charger, but delivers 150 horsepower and 250 Nm of torque.
Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia recently introduced its 2017 version Jetta, which carries a very interesting feature that puts it at the top of the heap insofar as C-segment cars are concerned. This feature is the Coasting Function, something usually found only in more expensive cars. My research tells me that some BMW models have it, and I experienced it personally in the Mercedes C63 S AMG, but not anywhere else.
The Coasting Function works well with DSG (Direct Shift Gearbox) and what it does is that the gears disengage whenever the driver takes his or her foot off the accelerator pedal and does not depress the brake.
The last bit about the brake is important because if the driver were to take his or her foot off the accelerator but press on the brake immediately, as in a situation wherein he or she needs to slow down the vehicle (whether it is for safety or any other reason) then the system does not work. All this is done in an instant without any input from the driver other than the foot on the accelerator and/or brakes. The car system responds correspondingly and once engaged, the Coasting Function stops as soon as the driver steps on the accelerator again. The benefit of the Coasting Function is approximately 10 percent better fuel economy.
Whilst the outgoing model’s fuel consumption is rated at 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres, the new Jetta boasts 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres. In real world terms, I would expect numbers closer to 7.5 litres per 100 km to 10.0 litres per 100 km, depending on how you drive – but however you drive, the moments that you are off the accelerator would be the moments when you know your Jetta is saving fuel for you through the Coasting function.
When push comes to shove, the Jetta will show many other bigger capacity cars a clean pair of heels, doing the zero to 100km/h sprint in 8.6 seconds, and hit a top speed of 221 kilometres per hour. The Jetta features front-wheel drive, and the power is transferred to the road via a 7-speed DSG gearbox. Shifts are seamless, and transmission slip is all but eliminated.
Although the Jetta is moving away from the Golf in terms of size, I have always considered the Jetta as a Golf with a boot – Now that it has grown substantially bigger, with a longer wheelbase, the additional space would be appreciated if you find the hatchback a little restricted. The Jetta offers 510 litres of boot space. On a recent overseas trip, I managed to squeeze four large bags, and four carry-on bags into the back of a Jetta. In comparison, my old 204 C Class couldn’t even take two of the same bags.
In terms of safety features, the Jetta has an impressive list – Electronic Stability Control is standard across all variants, as is hill-hold, which holds the car stationary on a slope for a few seconds to allow one to shift one’s foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator pedal. Dual front and side airbags, plus dual curtain bags make it a total of six airbags, and there is an intelligent crash response system in place. Children are not forgotten with ISOFIX points and top tethers. Things that are not seen include anti-submarine seats, and brake pad wear indicators that tell you your pads need changing. For convenience and added safety, the front belts come with height adjustment, belt tensioners and load limiters. Daytime Running lights are also standard across the range.
Other great features include Engine Start/Stop and regenerative braking, electrically adjustable wing mirrors with puddle lights. Steering is speed-sensitive and electro-mechanical.
I like the thought that went into power sockets for front and rear occupants, and also an additional point in the boot. I also like the rear split and folding seatbacks that allow for easy stowage or long items or bulky items. Parking sensors at the front and rear are also a great plus point to help prevent parking skirmishes.
The Jetta is offered in three variants, namely the Trendline, Comfortline and Highline packages. The Trendline is the base model, retailing at RM108,990.00 – key highlights are Halogen headlamps, 16-inch ‘Sedonia’ wheels, and ‘Sienna’ fabric seats. Remember though, that the base package includes all the features that are already standard across the variants, so even the base model is pretty well stacked up.
The Comfortline is the middle of the pack model, retailing at RM117,990.00. Extras in this package include a 5-inch touch screen display radio with USB and Ipod interface, SD Card slot, Aux-in, bluetooth and mirrorlink. Auto dimming rear view mirror, auto headlights, auto wipers, dual climatic control air-conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, and 16-inch ‘Navarra’ wheels, plus adjustable halogen lights are all standard for this package.
The Highline package is the top-of-the-heap at RM128,990 – the gap from the baseline is RM20,000 – for this, you get an additional 2 speakers, making it a total of 8 in all, Bi-xenon headlights with headlamp washers (the bi-xenons are worth it) and LED Daytime Running Lights, Keyless entry and Push Button start, lockable and cooled glovebox, 17-inch alloy wheels and leather upholstery.
My stint with the new Jetta was relatively short – just three days. My favourite feature is of course the Coasting Function, which I think is nothing short of brilliant. It is not rocket science, but putting it into the system makes the car more complete. Add to this the very good ‘balance’ of the car in terms of neutral handling, smooth and seamless transmission, extremely good acceleration and an excellent ride. The Jetta is very much a ‘fun-to-drive’ car.
The C-segment is a rather crowded segment – every make and model has something to shout about – there are many great cars, and I like a lot of them, but only one, at this moment, in this segment, has the Coasting Function!