VW-Jetta has the goods to make even the Audi A3 en­vi­ous.

Volk­swa­gen’s re­worked Jetta has the goods to make even the Audi A3 en­vi­ous

Calgary Sun - Autonet - - YOUR CORNER WRENCH - DEREK MCNAUGHTON DRIV­ING.CA

At some point, Audi is go­ing to lose it on Volk­swa­gen. Rest as­sured, the mid­dle child will some­day soon throw a tantrum on the mother corp, and there’s lit­tle doubt Audi has a com­pelling ar­gu­ment.

Audi has ev­ery right to be miffed at Volk­swa­gen over the 2019 Jetta: The new car comes sub­stan­tially close to Audi’s own A3 and A4, even sharing the same plat­form with the A3 and Q3, as well as a whole man­ner of me­chan­i­cal bits and electrics. Buy­ers who don’t care if their jeans are Wrangler or Le­vis will un­doubt­edly opt for the cheaper op­tion, es­sen­tially get­ting a base Audi for half price.

Al­most. No, there’s not a lot of ca­chet in own­ing a Jetta, made worse in years past by sav­age cost-cut­ting that low­ered the Jetta’s ap­peal to a level where thieves wouldn’t steal them. The de­sign was bland, the en­gine old and lumpy, the in­te­rior so drab and un­happy. How­ever, the 2019 Jetta breaks free from that.

VW couldn’t com­pletely eat its stylish Audi young, so the new Jetta main­tains a highly con­ser­va­tive look. The Jetta’s trout-like snout and creased sheet metal won’t be some­thing pre­teen boys will fan­ta­size about. But the over­all pack­age, start­ing at just over $27,500 for the top-tier Ex­e­cline model (with a man­ual trans­mis­sion) is so well sorted and well equipped, it marks the comeback of a name­plate that be­gan in 1979.

Rid­ing on busy look­ing 17-inch Tor­nado al­loys, the Jetta Ex­e­cline gets a slew of cov­eted fea­tures as stan­dard equip­ment, in­clud­ing a 10.3inch dig­i­tal and con­fig­urable screen as an in­stru­ment clus­ter, a Beat­sAu­dio sound sys­tem and an eight-inch touch-screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem with satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion. Plus there’s dual-zone au­to­matic climate con­trol, blind-spot mon­i­tor­ing, leather seats and steer­ing wheel, a big sun­roof (which tended to rat­tle a bit), full LED ex­te­rior light­ing and beau­ti­ful in­te­rior am­bi­ent lights. All this for un­der $30,000.

Slightly larger than the pre­vi­ous model, the 2019 Jetta grows to 4,702 mil­lime­tres yet loses a bit of trunk space, al­though it’s still siz­able at 396 litres. Up front, the cabin feels roomier than a Golf, but about the same as a Tiguan. Back-seat room is not ex­actly Uber ma­te­rial, but fine for most oc­ca­sional pas­sen­gers or kids in car seats.

Pow­ered by a tur­bocharged, 1.4litre in-line four-cylin­der en­gine, the Jetta can sound a lit­tle lumpy at startup, but it smooths out nicely when un­der­way. Some road noise is ev­i­dent, but it’s not an­noy­ing. Punch the throt­tle and it’s sur­pris­ing how such a small dis­place­ment en­gine can move this car so quickly. Off the line, it’s easy to ro­tate the tires; the en­gine’s 184 pound-feet of torque is in full sup­ply at just 1,400 rpm.

Only when hit­ting the higher gears does the en­gine run out of steam, when 147 horse­power shows it isn’t quite enough to blow past semi trail­ers with con­fi­dence. The en­gine tends to re­veal a coarser throat when be­ing whipped for all its power, too. But some­how it gets the job done while earn­ing highly favourable fuel econ­omy. Our aver­age came in at just over 10 L/100 kilo­me­tres, but the of­fi­cial rat­ings aver­age to 7.0 L/100 km (5.9 high­way and 7.8 city) with the eight­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

That au­to­matic worked well for the most part, with no de­tectable con­fu­sion. It just wasn’t as en­gag­ing as the six-speed man­ual would be, a trans­mis­sion that would help the Jetta feel some­what quicker be­cause power would be squeezed a lit­tle more for the sake of power, in­stead of ef­fi­ciency. A man­ual might make the car more soul­ful, too, be­cause the Jetta feels as though its mis­sion is trans­porta­tion only, with lit­tle de­vi­a­tion for fun.

DEREK MCNAUGHTON/DRIV­ING

2019 Volk­swa­gen Jetta Ex­e­cline.

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