Rolling out for 2019 with improved looks and polished, minimalist styling, Volkswagen’s latest Jetta brings a competitive small sedan that combines daily usefulness with a dash of German aesthetics.
The company makes much of the seventh-generation’s “all new” status – it isn’t just the looks that have changed, the car now rides on VW’s latest global architecture (interestingly, the Jetta shares the platform with a diverse array of vehicles, from the Audi TT and A3 to VW’s own Atlas and Arteon).
Comfortable enough inside, and with good headroom even for us six-foot types, the dash shows off an uncluttered display accented with metallic highlights. The digital gauge cluster behind the wheel is easily tailored to display the information an individual driver may prefer, and the steering-mounted buttons are fairly quick to figure out and use, as is the touchscreen on the center stack
My test model was the Execline trim (which is the top end for Jettas, there are also Comfortline and Highline), which gave it customizable interior ambient lighting, and a 400watt BeatsAudio sound system along with the digital info display and a navigation module.
The Execline also gets a set of snappy 17” wheels, which nicely compliment the redesigned exterior. The car is a lot more distinctive than previous generation Jettas, thanks to a better looking grille and more accented creasing of the body panels.
Marshaled by an eight-speed automatic transmission and four driver-selectable modes (I alternated mostly between Eco for better fuel consumption, and Sport for thrills), the little powerplant is up to any of the demands of daily driving. Oh, and I’ll mention too that the Jetta can be had with a manual six-speed gearbox as well.
It handles well, showing off agility and cornering ability, with just enough stiffness in the suspension to make the car feel sporty without letting the overall ride feel harsh or jarring. Backing that up with good braking and steering that allows a driver to feel connected to the road, the Jetta feels like a more expensive car (such as its Audi platform-mates).
My Execline tester included VW’s Driver Assist package as the only option on the already very well equipped machine, which added adaptive cruise control, front-assist emergency braking, lanekeeping assist and automated high beam control for the price of $995
VW claims fuel economy of 7.8L/100 km in the city and 5.9L on the highway, which, while not what you’ll find in hybrid cars, is pretty good in this segment.
In fact, the whole overall package stays competitive against its rivals from Japan and Korea (notably the Corolla and Civic kingpins) both in equipment and pricing.
The Jetta lineup starts in the low twenties (for a Comfortline trim) and by the time we get to the Execline car we see here it comes to $30,090 with its optional driver assist package, before freight and taxes.