As the months stretched on during our Toyota Corolla long-term test, we were becoming convinced that it was the best value compact sedan on the market. In our last big comparison test of compact cars, the Corolla was second only to the Mazda3 Sport hatchback, and in a head-to-head matchup with the best-selling Honda Civic, we found the Corolla superior by the slimmest of margins.

While a new Civic is coming very soon, we didn’t have the Corolla for quite that long, so we turned to the next best competitor in our big comparison, the Volkswagen Jetta, which arrives sporting a new base powertrain, a punchy 1.4L turbo that promises efficiency and power at an impressively low price point to see if the Corolla could retain its crown in the face of a refreshed Jetta.

Power and Efficiency

At the heart of this comparison was the Jetta’s newly available 1.4TSI, four cylinders measuring 1.4 litres in displacement with turbocharging and direct injection, paired with Volkswagen’s non-DSG six-speed conventional automatic. This is Volkswagen’s new base engine for the Jetta in North America (long available in other models in other markets), replacing the venerable and painfully out of date 2.0, and is only available in Trendline, Trendline+ and Comfortline trims. It makes 150 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. According to government estimates, fuel consumption in automatics is expected to be in the neighbourhood of 8.5 L/100 km in the city and 6.0 L/100 km on the highway.

In the other corner, the Corolla’s 1.8L four cylinder is without turbocharging, but at least incorporates direct fuel injection and is paired with one of the good CVTs. At 132 hp and 128 lb-ft of torque, its calling card is efficiency, and its 7.9 L/100 km city and 6.1 highway are overall a slightly better balance than the Jetta 1.4T because of that city rating.

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