Reviews First Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

18:38  12 july  2018
18:38  12 july  2018 Source:   roadandtrack.com

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The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta jumps onto the MQB platform and ups its technology. We take it for a test drive in Raleigh, North Carolina.

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The new Jetta is aim squarely at America: Extra Large and extra value.: First Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta© Volkswagen First Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

THE SEVENTH-GENERATION JETTA IS LIKE a changing-room mirror for American consumers: uncomfortable to look at, but achingly honest.

“We used to call the Jetta ‘fun to drive,’” a product manager said at the North American launch of the 2019 Jetta. “Now we like to call it ‘fun to be in.’”

Fair enough. Because the Jetta isn’t especially fun to drive. The car tracks dead straight, even during a 100-mph pass on a gnarled back road. The old ones were like that, too-Jettas always felt grown-up compared with other small cars. But now, there’s not a jink or judder from the steering wheel. Zero feedback. The front end tracks smooth as Skippy through any corner and over every bump.

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Well, we’ve just experienced the finished 2019 Volkswagen Jetta and it drives like a slightly bigger, heavier Golf with a trunk. For contrast, he even parked a first -gen Jetta in the foyer—a car that quite obviously WAS a Golf (Rabbit) with a trunk.

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The whisper-in-church quietude of the front end redirects drivers’ attention from textures in the asphalt to what most American consumers crave. Namely, a spacious interior packed with creature comforts. The car is bigger in every exterior dimension, creating extra head and shoulder room. Even low trims receive thoughtful touches, like a soft rubber dash embellished with faux stitching. It’s an illusion that elevates the Jetta beyond its sub-$20,000 base price, which actually undercuts competitors like the Civic and Corolla. Considering the last Jetta’s austerity, sprucing up the interior was a savvy call.

Buyers who opt for the SEL trim ($25,265) or higher receive a new digital cluster behind the steering wheel. It’s visually similar to Audi’s Tron-inspired virtual-cockpit display and offers drivers the usual info-radio station, speed, revs-in an elegant layout. The display floats on a river of shiny, Steinway-black plastic that flows to the stereo screen on the right. The stereo itself is operated by two knobs and a touchscreen-ergonomic bliss in an era of clutter. The BeatsAudio system (included on SEL and up) is a high point, one of the best available in this price range. When listening to high-bit-rate rap, hip-hop, and electronica, every bass thump racks your rib cage. But rock music disappoints: Drums on Chevelle’s “Face to the Floor” congeal into a muddy mess.

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Volkswagen invited us to Durham, North Carolina to drive the all-new 2019 Jetta , based on the MQB platform. Is it ready to go toe to toe with the likes of

This is the first Jetta to ride on VW 's excellent MQB platform, the same that underpins the Golf, Audi TT, and A4, among many others. In spite of the U.S.-centric changes, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta remains one of the sweet spots in the automaker's lineup, especially with the promise of a

The Jetta’s exterior, tightly creased yet otherwise unadorned, conveys a heft and solidity absent from the origami-swan Civic or trim Corolla. If you squint, there are shades of Audi S3 in the haunches and taillights. But the visual height at the front and rear also gives off a blocky, Ford Fusion vibe. This Jetta is an odd mosaic; dull or handsome, depending on the angle from which it’s viewed. But always large.

That size is central to VW’s strategy in America. As is simplification. The Jetta is based on the same MQB architecture that serves the Golf (and many other VWs) but trades the Golf’s multilink rear suspension for a torsion-beam setup. It cuts costs and 44 pounds but is loud and clunky over bumps, betraying the smooth front end.

a person driving a car: First Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta© Volkswagen First Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

The 1.4-liter turbo four carries over from 2018 and is now the only engine available, until a Jetta GLI arrives. Power is down slightly, at 147 horses, but a new eight-speed automatic transmission makes better use of the engine’s powerband. The car feels eager, yet never fast.

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VW of America was kind enough to lend us a brand new MK7 Jetta for a few days. We take it for a drive and go over some of the features that set this new

VW calibrated the drivetrain for American buyers. This means liquid-smooth shifts and minimal throttle input to sprint from stoplight to stoplight or spurt up to highway speed. It’s a different approach than in Europe, where drivers prefer a more linear throttle response. VW has ensured that Americans will spend little effort to drive their Jettas, cranking the stereo as they wrestle traffic.

The entire experience is calculated, fueled by pragmatism and VW’s engineering prowess. The versatility of the MQB architecture means the company can reap the cost savings of parts sharing while tailoring cars for specific markets. So, there is no longer a global Jetta. Europe only gets the Golf. China gets its own small sedan, built in-country. And America gets a Jetta made specifically for us.

Only, it’s not for us. For years, the Jetta’s American audience included enthusiasts. I have white-knuckled memories-all slides and heart-in-throat steering corrections-of a pale-blue second-gen Jetta Wolfsburg I drove to ski resorts in high school. The car was simple and joyous, sophisticated but spunky.

That’s not the Jetta anymore. VW thinks American buyers want value with the impression of wealth. They want a disco throne with faux leather and a bangin’ stereo. They want big. All this may be true. We, however, will take a Golf.

Refreshing or Revolting: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta .
Is the new look an improvement?For 2019, Volkswagen has made the Jetta more competitive with segment stalwarts like the new Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. The German entry offers a new 1.4-liter engine, a more spacious cabin, and the same MQB underpinnings as the fun-to-drive Golf. Perhaps the most polarizing change is the sedan's new styling.

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