Volkswagen Group’s position as one of the world’s largest automaker has always come as no surprise to me. Indeed, whenever we think about Volkswagen’s lineup, the brand has always exuded an image of German pragmatism at competitive prices. What really solidifies their position lately is their ubiquitous lineup of bread and butter vehicles such as the Golf, Beetle, and Jetta. 2010 marked the launch of the sixth-generation Jetta, and for the 2015 model year, Volkswagen has appropriated the car with a mid-cycle refresh that brings aboard a host of welcome changes. I was given the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TSI to gauge my thoughts.
My tester arrived in Silk Blue, a unique colour that contrasts the conservative styling of the Jetta. While the current generation’s design was never considered a jaw dropping head-turner, it’s definitely not ugly by any measure either. And personally, I think the conservative styling offers a sense of understated elegance, something that the designers at Volkswagen played on for the 2015 year, offering up a reworked front bumper, grille, and LED daytime running lights. The new grille, while not radically different from last year, creates the illusion that the car is wider than its predecessor (despite its width being unchanged).
The rear of the car also gets some love with a new trunk, bumper, and taillights reminiscent of the seventh generation Golf. Finally, as part of a $2,495 optional Technology package, Volkswagen will include a set of Adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights (as well as Navigation, and a 8-speaker Fender sound system). Ultimately, the designers at Volkswagen have done a pretty remarkable job of stylizing the exterior just enough to class up the look of the Jetta without spoiling its understated elegance.
The changes aren’t all limited to the outside. In fact, inside the cabin is where the engineers focused most of their efforts. The most noticeable of course, is the new center stack, steering wheel, and (if you opt for it) the “Ceramique” – Volkswagen’s name, not mine! – Vienna leather. Coupled with the Piano Black trim accents, the new Ceramique Vienna leather certainly does a fantastic job of classing up the interior of the car. Best of all, the folks at VW have done a grand job of upping the quality of the materials used too, as everything feels great with plenty of soft touch plastics and buttons that offer a satisfying – nay, gratifying – click (no seriously, hop in one and check out the power window buttons).
New for the 2015-year is a host of safety features including blind spot assist, forward collision alert, and rear cross-traffic alerts. The latter of which is fantastic, if RNS-510 navigation unit didn’t keep freezing on me. On multiple occasions during my week with the car the unit would freeze and require a restart before the problems would be sorted. I was informed that this is a problem unique to this particular test car being an early-production model, and shouldn’t be an issue going forward. The new safety suite of features isn’t exactly a game changer for those used to more premium cars, but is certainly not a standard in this class. Kudos to VW for making this leap.
With your choice of four different engines, it’s hard to find a Jetta that won’t fit the needs of everyone. And to that end, VW offers up your choice of the 2.0L four, the 1.8L TSI, or the company’s fantastic 2.0L turbodiesel. The engine choices carry over from the previous model year, save for the TDI, which offers 10 horses more than the previous unit and better fuel economy. More on that one later – we’ll be conducting a full road test of the diesel in the coming weeks.
That being said, most will opt for the 1.8L TSI – as my tester came equipped with – mated to the 6-speed automatic transmission (the 6-speed DSG is only available on the GLI and TDI). It’s good for 170 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. While I liked the 1.8L and 6-speed in the MK7 Golf, there were some instances while driving in the city where I felt the transmission searching for gears (particularly when coming out of a turn in an intersection). That being said, using the Tiptronic feature alleviates the inconsistencies of the transmission altogether.
Of course, it’s not all bad news as the 1.8L TSI motor performs admirably and with impeccable smoothness. Plus, it’s incredibly efficient in both the city as well as on the highway. Getting up to speed on the highway was never a problem thanks to the engines smooth power delivery. While it may not have the power of the GTI, for city use, the 1.8L in the Jetta offers great fuel economy (8.4L/100KM of combined) and ample power and torque to satisfy most owners.
With a starting price of $25,990 for the Highline trim – my tester came out just under $30,000. The refreshed 2015 Jetta offers a host of cabin and technological upgrades that spice up the class factor of the car. This is mildly a heavy refresh based on the existing platform. Even still, it’s modern, fresh, and will sell like crazy. Volkswagen will undoubtedly bring out the all-new Jetta soon based on their latest MQB platform, and it’s sure to be an even hotter seller if the new Golf is any indication.