With the redesigned 2006 Jetta entering the marketplace early in 2005, the current 2005 Jetta remains virtually unchanged. The Jetta sedan is available in two trim lines, the GLS and GLI, with a choice of three four-cylinder engines; the Jetta wagon comes in GLS trim only, with the same engine choices. The 2.8-litre V6 available in 2004 has been discontinued.

The base engine is a gasoline-powered, 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder. Mid-line is a frugal 1.9-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel, while the most expensive models carry a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine. It’s the same line-up as the Golf, upon which the larger Jetta is based.

Unlike the Golf, which starts as a very basic package and adds features, the three models of the Jetta GLS, in both sedan and wagon form, are differentiated only by their engines, with convenience items shared across the board. These include air conditioning, five-speed manual, power heated mirrors, 15-inch steel wheels, four disc brakes with ABS, variable intermittent wipers, cruise control, power locks with keyless entry and theft alarm, CD/cassette system with eight speakers, and heated seats.

The GLI stands alone in several extra standard features; although the top-line GLS sedan also carries the turbocharged engine, the GLI makes the surrounding car sportier and more fun to drive. Additional features include sports suspension, six-speed manual, body-coloured bumpers, fog lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels, Monsoon sound system, Recaro sport seats, three-spoke leather-wrapped wheel, and the side curtain air bags that are optional on the GLS.

Like the Golf, the Jetta is an absolute pleasure to drive, with direct and nimble steering, smooth acceleration and a well-finished interior. The GLI enhances the turbo with an extra gear and sport suspension that feels pricier than it is.

Both sedan and wagon offer the practicality of four doors – although rear seat room is a bit tight – with the added benefit of decent cargo space in the wagon. But the Jetta wagon is relatively expensive, if all you want is the envelope: the Chevrolet Optra wagon isn’t as well built, but it’s $9,870 less, while like the Jetta, the Ford Focus hauls five people and cargo but for $6,655 less. In diesel form, though, the Jetta is the most fuel-efficient wagon in the country.

The Jetta is built in Puebla, Mexico.

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