New Volkswagen Jetta Facelift Review – First Drive
Introduction – Volkswagen Jetta, the nameplate that has been in existence since 1979, is synonymous to understated majesty. Keeping things simple and efficient has always been the motto of Volkswagen, which has been rewarding for the company as well as the model in title. And so is this facelift operation. Nothing alarmingly new about the refreshed model, but there are a few updates that need addressing.
Exterior – Jetta is a silent type. Always has been. Stands with pride, content or sometimes even what one might call serene. To read it one needs to experience it. It tends to age soon. But it does keep up appearances, to the trend.
Which is why the new model gets new front grille giving bolder presence, redesigned bumpers with integrated skirts complimenting the grille, different air-dam flanked by fresh set of fog lamps, new set of voguish alloy wheels for diesel variants, new LED and highly familiar tail lamps, tweaked boot-lid deign and new reflectors at the rear. But the eye-catcher is new Bi-Xenon headlamps with embedded LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) doing a fine job of elevating the lower D-segment sedan’s elegance. However, petrol variant choosers will not get the last luxury.
Features aside, to brief on the looks of Volkswagen Jetta, it is a classy executive sedan that balances levels of style, sophistication and supremacy, in current shade of chocolaty brown and new subtly scintillating tone of blue, making for one colourful cocktail of zest and class. Full range of palette will be announced during launch.
Interior – Not much has been changed inside the dual-tone cabin as well, most prominent change would be the new flat bottomed steering wheel with piano black accents introduced in VW Polo facelift and carried over to 2014 Vento as well. But the one in new Jetta has way more buttons than what’s in the others, including cruise control which is now made standard across all variants.
Next important feature in 2015 Volkswagen Jetta is Fatigue Detection. It keeps a constant check on driver’s behaviour with the steering and warns upon determining the master is tired. Apart from these, there are two more new features to mention, passenger Airbag deactivation switch placed on centre console and sporty twin-pot instrument cluster with LCD Multi Information Display at the centre.
Otherwise, pretty much everything is as usual in new Jetta facelift. Notable features include 6½ inch touchscreen infotainment system (with colour display, 8 speakers, 6-CD changer, AUX-in and SD card connectivity; No USB) for top end variant, Polo Vento type regular music system for other trims, 12-way Electrically Adjustable Driver Seat, 6 Airbags, 2 ISOFIX mounts, Climatronic System with dual zone Air Conditioning and Park distance control (front and rear).
Engine – No change in this department as well. Petrol version uses the same (4-cylinder, in-line, turbocharged, inter-cooled) 1.4 litre TSI engine producing 122 PS mx power @ 5,000 rpm and 200 Nm peak torque @ 1,500 – 4,000 rpm; mated to 6-speed manual transmission. Claimed fuel efficiency is 14.69 kmpl, while we got 5.88 kmpl during performance tests.
Diesel version of 2015 Volkswagen Jetta facelift receives same (4-cylinder, in-line CR, turbo) 2.0 litre TDI engine churning out 140 PS @ 4,200 rpm and 320 Nm @ 1,750 – 2,500 rpm; with option of 6-speed manual and 6-speed DSG automatic. Claimed mileage of diesel manual variant is 19.33 kmpl and that of latter is 16.96 kmpl; we got 14.28 kmpl and 10.52 kmpl respectively during performance tests.
Driving Experience – Drive assist systems include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Differential Lock (EDL), Anti Slip Regulation (ASR), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist and Hill Hold Control. Smart integration and tuning of these systems in Volkswagen Jetta allow the driver to push the car to its mechanical limits and test the remarkably brilliant chassis & suspension marriage around corners & slopes, before the electrical systems intervene.
Unlike in many other cars, these assist programs in Jetta seem to be under-performing, while it actually waits to kick in only after the natural limit of playing around on roads is reached, thus letting the driver experience some amount of old-school engineering before the electronics tighten the leash.
There is no change underneath the skin, meaning the Volkswagen Jetta facelift is just as fun and capable to drive as the older model. Concealed under the executive facade is a well crafted sport machine, which the German automaker hasn’t tampered with in anyway.
As much as the suspension is commendable during pressing situations, ride quality is praiseworthy while cruising over really bad roads. Bumps and potholes do not cause significant thuds and good level of comfort is passed on to rear seat as well, making it very good for chauffeured drive.
Whoever is sitting behind the wheel will get to relish the Electronic Power Steering (EPS) that is tuned to feel somewhat like a hydraulic unit with good weighing-in and ample feedback while carving hills.
What’s bad is gearshift quality in manual versions of 2015 Volkswagen Jetta. Shift throw is very long and feels total lack of lubrication in the 6-speed unit attached to diesel engine, while the unit in petrol trim feels better but not appreciable.
The 6-speed Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) however, that comes with Tiptronic (manual mode) as well as paddle shifters behind the steering wheel in Volkswagen Jetta, is heavenly. It shifts with great response time and is not easy to catch it off-guard while nervous / impromptu pedalling of throttle.
Speaking of response time, the diesel engine has well pronounced turbo-lag until around 2,000 rpm, after which it surges like an RPG. Correct gear- and leg-work will make the diesel Jetta very impressive to drive, also when ignoring the high NVH (Noise, Vibration & Harshness) levels. Massive 320 Nm of torque is well accessible and shows in the way the Jetta picks up when demanded in mid to high range.
Verdict – Volkswagen Jetta continues to be an impressive all rounder, and the 2015 facelift version makes it more appealing. The car is suitable for commute during weekdays, family getaway during weekends and discrete & elegant street racing whenever desired. Overall, Jetta is a car to live long with.
2015 VW Jetta facelift is slated for launch on 17th February, at expected price range of Rs. 13.69 lakhs to Rs. 19.49 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi), close to Rs. 50,000 higher than current model across all variants.
Elegant and somewhat sporty looks
Lack of diesel engine & manual gearbox refinement
Poor mileage of petrol version