Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 Volkswagen Jetta Quicktake

As Volkswagen driver/lover since the age of 19 I am concerned to see the "new" mentality of the company moving forward trying to achieve their sales goals in north America. With the Golf and Jetta "City" cars showing there age being based on 10+ year designs, Volkswagen needed to fill there sub 20k entry level spot with something new. Enter the 2011 Jetta. At first glance the car is pretty bland, but when you consider the starting price of $15,875 I thought it deserved a look. Volkswagen has opened a new factory in Tennessee to produce these cars which are being made specifically for the North American market. They have done some corner cutting to get the starting price as low as it is, and this is where the problem to me begins. Volkswagen has always been a company that could be considered the high end of budget/affordable cars, but with this new car I think that have taken a step down from this spot.

The new car is quite a bit bigger than the last generation model, and the results give you a considerable increase in rear seat room that has about 2-3 inches more leg room, but this is about where the goodness ends. Gone are the soft touch materials from the dash, independent rear suspension has been replace with a torsion beam setup, electromechanical steering, and rear disc brakes do not come on the entry level models. Then there is the base motor, a 20+ year technology 2.0 8v motor making 115BHP(My 1994 GTI came with this same basic motor), that is pretty pathetic offering ladies and gents. The brand new Hyundai Elantra is putting out 148BHP from a 1.8 Liter that gets much better mileage....enough on the sad engine. Other cost cutting measures include, a prop rod that now holds up the hood when opened, a rear hinge mechanism on the trunk that enters the cargo area to crush any objects that get in there way, and the elimination of the nice rear air vents for your passengers to control. The doors on all the VW's I have ever come across since 1994 have always closed with a solid sound of conviction, not the new Jetta. Upon exiting the vehicle and closing the door, I thought I had just gotten out something built Russia or Korea from the mid eighties. The car I drove in was the top of the line Highline TDI model with the DSG gearbox. The best part of the car for sure was the drive train. If you drive with a light foot you can do 1100-1200km on 55 liters of diesel with this car in the summer.

At $30,300 for the top of the line model I have to wonder why I would just not buy the "still built" in Germany Golf hatchback. The car still has all the features/quality that have been taken out of the new Jetta and costs about only $1000 more with the same options. The only thing you give up, is a little little legroom in the back and some trunk space. With out knowing exactly how much more it costs to built the Golf, I know where my money would be going... Long live the German built Golf, and GTI.......

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