2016 Volkswagen Jetta review with video
Base price: $15,995 + taxes
As tested: $20,595 + taxes
Highway fuel economy: 6.0 litres/100 kms
City fuel economy: 8.5 litres/100 kms
Competition: Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda3, Toyota Corolla
It might look the same from the outside as the 2015 Jetta but there’s a whole lotta’ new going on here that you won’t see at first glance with the new 2016 model year. There’s some clever new kit in the infotainment system which makes it easier to use and also allows you to mirror your smart phone’s screen directly onto the car’s system. Then, VW has done away with the tired 2.0-litre workhorse engine that had been in this car for ages and has replaced it with a zippy little 1.4-litre turbo. Higher level trims like the GLI and GLI Autobahn ($34,795) get a slightly more powerful turbo too.
Now, in those higher level trims of the Jetta, you’re getting a very well appointed interior with soft-touch surfaces, leather and some excellent passive safety technology. But the lower level trims, which start at less than half of what it would cost to get into an Autobahn package, are downright basic. Yes, you get a touchscreen, back-up camera, bluetooth connectivity and power windows… but hard, cheap plastics abound and the interior in our $20,000+ tester felt far less premium than a comparably priced Hyundai or Kia or Mazda. The seats are also remarkably uncomfortable, as we discovered after a three hour drive out into the mountains.
But it kind of seems to me like VW has decided to focus on the drive here rather than creature comforts. The driving and suspension feel solid and connected. The doors give a reassuring thud as they close. The switches and knobs inside are often exactly what you’d find in an Audi. And of course, there’s the very eager new turbo-charged engine. I averaged 7 litres per 100/kms this week, which is excellent for a zippy turbo.
In terms of size, this car is pretty darn spacious for a compact sedan – although really tall drivers will make the back seat tight for passengers. Car seats, however, fit really nicely in the Jetta with front and rear facing configurations leaving tonnes of room for front passengers. Then, there’s the trunk which is deceptively, somehow magically, huge!
Ultimately, you have an interesting decision to make here: do you look to some of the other brands out there for more features packed into your compact sedan, or is a solid feeling, little performer with fewer bells and whistles more your thing? If your answer is the latter, better take the Jetta for a test drive.
Family Wheels driver comfort score: 2.5/5
Family Wheels performance score score: 4/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 3/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 4/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 3/5
Family Wheels overall score: 24.5/35