An ideal family car
BRIAN BASSETT drives the new VW Jetta 7 1.4TSI Comfortline DSG Blue Motion
THE Jetta has been with us since 1979 and it is one of the best-selling models in the VW line-up, with some 275 000 units having been sold into the South African market over the past 35 years.
The seventh-generation Jetta has arrived recently in South Africa and now sits beside the Golf 7, by which it always appears to be eclipsed, possibly because of the Golf’s more youthful and sporty image.
The Jetta is, however, the more practical of the two vehicles and over the years has grown up to the point where it barely fits into the C segment.
We offer our thanks to Keith Abrahams, dealer principal at Barons Pietermaritzburg, for allowing us access to the car.
The Jetta is a handsome car and its looks have been improved in the seventh generation. Its styling is still not overwhelming, but in a world overdone with curves, crests and ersatz chrome, the Jetta’s understated distinction commands respect.
The car’s real appeal lies in its visual durability. Its design will still look relevant in a decade and, considering the number of 10year-old plus Jettas one still sees on the road, this is an important consideration.
Updates to the Jetta 7 have kept it fresh without altering the basic design. The redesigned front end has a restyled radiator grille with three cross fins. Bi-xenon headlights are now optional and are fitted with a cornering turn signal.
The car also has LED daytime driving lights and a new bumper. At the rear there is a revised bumper and tail-light cluster and the boot lid has an aerodynamic trailing edge. In fact, the car is about 10% more slippery than before. In all, the impression made by the Jetta 7 is one of durability and lasting quality.
The cabin of the Jetta 7 is superbly finished in textured plastics and there is considerable attention to detail.
Clean lines and well-organised controls present both driver and passengers with a calm, spacious oasis for their journey.
The car is not at all constraining. I loaded four friends into the car for a pre-Xmas shopping trip to Hillcrest, followed by a visit to the new Hillcrest market.
None of those who joined in the journey could be described as small and despite this the shoulder-and leg-room provided allowed a very comfortable commute. The Jetta, in fact, has more space at the back than some midsize sedans I have driven.
The dash is dominated by the 6,5-inch touch screen, which operates the eight-speaker radio, CD, Aux and MP3 audio system, which also features an SD card reader. The main dials are typically Volkswagen with the analogue speedometer and rev counter linked by a digital information panel, which provides the driver with information without having to look away from the road. There is also an up-to-date technical interface with smartphone integration.
The driver’s seat, as well as the multifunction steering wheel accentuated in piano black, are fully adjustable and the gear lever for the auto box is within easy reach.
The seats are covered in robust cloth and are comfortable to the point where the Jetta can be regarded as a long-distance vehicle.
Like all Jettas, the boot is large and will take luggage for five people without a problem. The rear seats can be folded down in 60/40 fashion and the car provides one of the largest storage spaces in its class. Rear-seat movement is controlled from the boot and the mechanism is easy to operate. Useful storage spaces in the doors and between the seats provide a space for all the modern-day clutter we carry on our persons.
Safety and security
The Jetta has a top Euro NCAP five-star rating and a long list of safety features too numerous to mention here.
The most important, however, include ABS with EBD, Hill Hold Assist, Multi-Link Independent Rear Suspension and six driver, passenger, front, side and curtain air bags, with front passenger air bag de-activation. There is an electronic stability programme and Isofix child seat anchors.
If you want to survive the holiday rush, the Jetta will provide you with an excellent platform for doing so. Just in case anyone tries to steal the car while you are at the coast, there is the usual factory-fitted alarm and central locking functions.
Performance and handling
Despite its family sedan image the Jetta’s 1,4-litre, four-cylinder, turbo-petrol engine puts out 97 kW and 200 Nm.
The engine is sweet, sophisticated, peppy and compelling. Zero to 100 km/h comes up in about 5,7 seconds, with an academically interesting top speed of around 200 km/h. The six-speed auto box does a brilliant job and on the N3 there is easily enough power to handle the crazies and truck drivers with bald tyres.
Fuel consumption is around 6,2l per 100 km and the Blue Motion badge tells you that VW has installed a range of energy-saving features.
The car is refined and the independent suspension on all four wheels makes it one of the best handlers in its class, with electric power steering offering precision and immediate feedback whatever the road surface.
Our Hillcrest excursion in the car was a delight, back-road potholes and all, and in town it was easy to manoeuvre and park. It is a car I would consider buying with my own money, if I had any, that is!
Costs and the competition
Nine models are available. Ours costs around R360 000.
There is a factory guarantee and five-year, 90 000 km service plan. Also check out the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Toyota Corolla and Kia Cerato.
The seventhgeneration VW Jetta is sleeker and longer than the 1989 model, but it still provides class-leading space for passengers and luggage.