Now in its sixth generation, the Volkswagen Jetta has long been a significant car for the German company. More than 9.6-million units have been sold worldwide since its introduction in 1979. But this time, the U.S. market, which is of considerable interest to the executives in Wolfsburg (they’ve stated that they want to triple their sales in the U.S. by 2018, to an annual sales volume for the company of some 800,000 units), is of particular importance for the compact car. And, perhaps having plenty to do with the U.S. market, it has a characteristic that is indicative of many cars that are launched with the U.S. consumer in mind: the new sedan is bigger than its predecessor. It is 182.7-in. long, whereas its predecessor is 179.3 in. It has the same width (70.1 in.), yet is actually a bit lower, with a height of 57.1 in. versus 57.4 in.
Although it is a compact, its dimen-sional changes are to make it some-thing a “bit more” than a compact sedan.
A Walk Around
Although the car has the same width as it did before, because it is slightly lowered, it has a wider, more planted stance. The body-colored bumper sits atop a cooling air intake and a tray-shaped front spoiler; this section is flanked by the parking lights. The hood has a pronounced V-shape that is integrated with the shoulders above the front wheels. Also notable is the windshield rake, which is faster than is typical on compacts, helping provide a sportier appearance for the sedan.
Along the side there is a strong tornado line that arcs up and across the body side. There are distinctive arches above the wheels. Like the windshield, the C-pillar is fast, such that the combination creates almost a coupe-like roofline for the Jetta.
At the rear, the top of the decklid has a trailing edge that provides not only additional style, but some aerodynamics. The back of the car is pulled back, or tapered, providing a shape that seems more snug, although it is worth noting that the car has an 18-ft3 trunk, which isn’t snug.
Under the Hood
The car is being offered with four engines. There is a 115-hp 2-liter four; a 170-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder; a 200-hp turbocharged and direct-injected four; and a 140-hp turbodiesel direct injection (TDI) diesel. All engines are being offered with both automatic and manual transmissions (six-speed automatic; six-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG), and five- and six-speed manuals). The 170-hp five-cylinder was developed specifically with the U.S. market in mind. It is claimed to be a derivative of the V10 engine used in the Lamborghini Gallardo. One characteristic of this engine is comparatively high torque: 177 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm. Even the diesel is claimed to have the U.S. market in mind, as in “long driving distances covered in the USA.” It features common-rail fuel injection. The piezo injectors provide pressures up to 1,800 bar. These injectors, compared with solenoid valves, allow a more-tailored injection regime, with up to seven individual injections per work cycle. This is a “clean diesel,” one that is available in all 50 states. It features a NOx storage catalytic converter to handle all of the nitrogen oxides that aren’t taken care of through the optimization of the combustion chamber, precise injections, and the recirculation of exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber.
There are six standard airbags. To assure quick activation, a sensor system located centrally in the cabin assesses low-frequency acceleration signals; this is supplemented by specially tuned accelerometers that measure audible frequencies. What happens is that in the event of a frontal collision, there are signals generated as the car’s load-bearing structures deform that are propagated through the vehicle. The signals are assessed so as to calculate the severity of the crash, and the airbags and belt tensioners are deployed accordingly. Also enhancing safety is the use of high-strength steels in the body structure.
Inside, the design is such that it not only deploys higher-quality materials, but so that there is more room. This is not only a function of the greater overall length of the vehicle, which is translated into an additional 2.6 in. of rear legroom (a total of 38.1 in.), but as a result of addressing even smaller things: the parking brake lever is repositioned so that there can be larger cupholders installed.
Cupholders. See: the U.S. market really is important.