Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
2007 Volkswagen City Golf. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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Small hatchbacks in the $15,000 to $20,000 range are hot right now, but unfortunately the company that made its name in North America by selling small inexpensive economy cars – Volkswagen – doesn’t sell a subcompact model here. The European VW Polo can’t be imported to Canada because it won’t meet North American crash standards. Funny, Japanese and Korean automakers don’t seem to have these kind of problems – but there you are.

With the new 2007 VW Rabbit starting at almost $20,000, Volkswagen could have been without an affordable, entry-level car for 2007. Not only that, Volkswagen Canada won’t be offering a diesel Golf/Rabbit or Jetta for 2007 because the current TDI engine doesn’t meet new diesel emission standards. In some parts of the country, the TDI Golf represents almost half of all Golf sales, so VW dealers everywhere must have been cryin’ the blues.

Fortunately, quick and imaginative thinking on the part of Volkswagen Canada execs has resulted in the return of last year’s Golf and Jetta as affordable base models in the Canadian VW line-up (sorry, Americans: you won’t get them).

Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
2007 Volkswagen City Golf. Click image to enlarge


2007 City Golf

The 2007 City Golf returns with the same 115-hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine as before, and standard five-speed manual transmission or optional four-speed automatic. But even at a base price of $14,900, the City Golf is no stripper. Standard equipment includes 15-inch tires, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, power steering, AM/FM/CD player and eight speakers, two-tone fabric seats, height-adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 folding rear seatbacks, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, tachometer, digital clock, variable intermittent wipers and rear wiper/washer, 12-volt powerpoint in the centre console and a standard four-year/80,000 km warranty which includes four years of roadside assistance, and a five-year/100,000 km powertrain warranty.

Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
2007 Volkswagen City Golf. Click image to enlarge

Options include the four-speed automatic transmission ($1,150), air conditioning ($1,350), side airbags ($160), side curtain airbags ($410), ESP stability control ($450), Cold Weather Package with heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles ($205), a Luxury Package with alloy wheels and moonroof ($1,600), and the Convenience Package which includes power windows, power door locks, power heated mirrors, cruise control, alarm, power trunk release and remote keyless entry ($740). Even if you ordered all these options, the total price is still under $21,000, plus $695 Freight and $100 A/C tax.

Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
2007 Volkswagen City Golf. Click image to enlarge

While the City Golf’s 115-hp 2.0-litre engine has less horsepower than most of its competitors (0 to 100 km/h takes about 10 seconds) it produces maximum torque at just 2600 rpm, giving it a more robust feel in city driving. And while its fuel consumption rating of 9.8 L/100 km (29 mpg Imp.) city and 7.1 L/100 km (40 mpg Imp.) is not quite as good as subcompacts like the Yaris and Fit, it’s still pretty decent for a compact car.

The City Golf is still built in Coritiba, Brazil, and according to VW Canada Vice-President, John White, quality issues have been addressed by a new quality czar sent from Canada to improve manufacturing standards. Time will tell, I guess.

Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
2007 Volkswagen City Jetta. Click image to enlarge


2007 City Jetta

The return of the 2007 VW City Jetta is not only good news for people looking for a cheaper Volkswagen sedan, it’s also welcome news for those who liked the styling of the old Jetta better than the new one (me included).

Granted, the only engine offered, the 115-hp 2.0-litre four cylinder, is not a powerhouse, but as I mentioned, low-end torque is good around town, and this SOHC, 8-valve engine has been improved over the years to make it quieter and smoother.

Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
2007 Volkswagen City Jetta. Click image to enlarge

For its base price of $16,700, you get a standard five-speed manual transmission, or optional four-speed automatic, and almost all the same standard features as the City Golf: 15-inch tires, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, power steering, AM/FM/CD player and six speakers (not eight), two-tone fabric seats, height-adjustable driver’s seat, 60/40 folding rear seatbacks, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, tachometer, digital clock, variable intermittent wipers, 12-volt powerpoint in the centre console and in the trunk, and a standard four-year/80,000 km warranty which includes four years of roadside assistance, and a five-year/100,000 km powertrain warranty.

In addition, the City Jetta has a standard anti-theft alarm, and power door locks with central locking and a folding key with remote unlocking/locking.

Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
2007 Volkswagen City Jetta. Click image to enlarge

Options on the City Jetta include the four-speed automatic transmission ($1,150), air conditioning ($1,350), side airbags ($160), side curtain airbags ($410), ESP stability control ($450), Cold Weather Package with heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles ($205), a Luxury Package with alloy wheels and moonroof ($1,600), and the Convenience Package ($540) which is slightly cheaper because power door locks are standard in the Jetta.

Fully loaded, the City Jetta comes to $22,565, plus $695 Freight and $100 A/C tax.

Preview: 2007 Volkswagen City Golf & City Jetta volkswagen first drives
2007 Volkswagen City Jetta. Click image to enlarge

Unfortunately, there won’t be a City Jetta Wagon, because it was built in Germany, not Puebla, Mexico where the City Jetta is built.

Bringing back the old Golf and Jetta at reasonable prices seems like a well-timed move as motorists tighten their belts in the face of higher gas prices. The technology may be older, but it is proven, and the styling of these cars is still very attractive even after all these years.


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