I will always revere VW for being a “hip” brand. Attracting young, active, socially-conscious drivers. This idea was manifested by the reemergence of the New Beetle in 1998. VW was the accessible European brand that had a load of sport and touch of luxury other economy brands couldn’t capture.
In an article published a few years ago, I recall reading that VW had a goal of overtaking Toyota as the largest automaker in the USA, and becoming the world’s largest automaker by 2018. Their plan included the redesign of one of their biggest sellers, the Jetta.
The new Jetta is best compared to a piece of toast. Bland yet easily digestable. The styling up-front reminds me of a 2005 Chevy Malibu, and the rear, a 2003 Toyota Camry. I don’t really find these great cars to pull inspiration from. I can criticize, but all-in-all, it’s just generic. No excitement yet not offensive. For some, it’s perfect.
The interior has sadly taken a large step back, when it comes to quality. Plastic galore that looks worse than tupperware you find at the local Dollar tree. Not what you’ve come to expect from the VW of the past. All the style and charm that the previous Jetta possessed was rung out. VW believes that this sedan will allure “basic drivers,” looking for a easy, reliable ride at an extreme value, starting now at just over 16K for the base model. This European sports sedan lost its heat…on purpose.
The available engines are a paltry 2.0L 115 hp 4-cylinder engine that feels more suited for a lawnmower, a 2.5L in-line 5 with 170hp which feels decent for the size, or a 2.0L 140hp TDI clean diesel. The trim levels are the base S, step-up SE, or the loaded SEL. Much of what was standard on the previous Jetta was stripped out to save money, and available on the higher trim levels.
I sadly cringe when I see these parked near me, or passing me by. For a company responsible for the awesome GTI, the saccharine Beetle, and the Cabrio commercial with “Pink Moon,” I’m vastly disappointed.
VW, you used to be cool. I once considered a Jetta…I wanted to be apart of the current hipster crowd that attend sit-ins and listens to the local University’s indie channel. I’m sorry VW…I’m being a bully, but your ’11 Jetta needs to be beat up.