The new 2000 VW Jetta 1.8T offers Volkswagen’s sporty turbocharged 1.8 litre four cylinder engine with 150 horsepower. Available in GLS trim only, the Jetta 1.8T includes such standard equipment as four wheel disc brakes with ABS, Anti-Slip Regulation, air conditioning, 60/40 folding rear seats, centrol locking and remote keyless entry. Jetta GLS 1.8T models start at $25,250.
Turbo engine boosts performance
Volkswagen’s 150 horsepower, turbocharged 1.8 litre four cylinder engine is now available in the Jetta, bringing to four the number of engines available in this popular compact sedan last redesigned in 1999.
Base Jetta GL models ($21,170) have a 115 horsepower 2.0 litre four cylinder engine; Jetta GL TDi models ($23,100) have a 90 horsepower 1.9 litre diesel turbocharged four cylinder engine; Jetta GLS 1.8T models ($25,250) have the turbocharged 1.8 litre four cylinder engine; and top-of-the-line Jetta GLS VR6 models ($26,300) have a 174 horsepower 2.8 litre V6 engine.
The new 1.8 litre turbocharged engine is also available in the Golf and GTi models, as well as the Passat.
Why a turbo four?
A fair question might be, “Why would Volkswagen want to offer a 150 horsepower four cylinder engine in the Jetta when it already has an economical four cylinder powerplant, a powerful V6 powerplant, and a fuel-efficient diesel engine?” From a pricing perspective, the Jetta 1.8T GLS is about $2000 more than a comparably-equipped Jetta 2.0 GLS, and about $4000 more than a base Jetta. Is the 1.8T’s additional 35 horsepower really worth an extra 2000 bucks? And why not just spend an additional $1000 and get the 174 horsepower GLS VR6 model?
From a driver’s point of view, there’s no question that the 1.8 litre turbo engine is superior to the base engine. While the 2.0 litre engine provides adequate acceleration, the 1.8 turbo engine transforms the Jetta into a lively sports sedan whose low and mid-range acceleration performance complements the Jetta’s solid chassis and stable handling. The engine’s only drawback, aside from cost, is higher fuel consumption and the fact that it uses Premium fuel. The 1.8T offers 9.2 l/100 km (31 mpg) on the highway while the 2.0 litre model gets up to 7.0 litres per 100 kilometres (40 mpg).
In my opinion, if you have a chance to compare the base Jetta and the 1.8T (and you can afford the extra $2000), you’ll find it hard to resist the 1.8T.
When compared to the V6 engine, the 1.8T is not quite as smooth, quiet or powerful, but it’s remarkably close and gets better fuel consumption.
Considering that the 1.8T engine is smaller than the base 2.0 litre engine, it’s amazing how much better it is. Chalk it up to technology: the 1.8T has five valves per cylinder, dual overhead camshafts and an exhaust-driven turbocharger and intercooler which supplies cool, high density air to the engine. With 150 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 155 ft.lbs. of torque from a low 1750 rpm to 4600 rpm, the engine offers plenty of pulling power from the low end to the higher rev ranges.
A Jetta 1.8T with a standard five-speed manual transmission goes from 0 to 100 km/h in just 8.2 seconds. The engine lets out a sporty but subdued note on acceleration, but is barely audible on the freeway. Engine speed at a steady 100 km/h is 2700 rpm in fourth with the automatic transmission.
Fuel consumption with a manual transmission is 11.9 l/100 km (24 mpg) in the city and 9.2 l/100 km (31 mpg) on the highway, but increases with an automatic transmission to 12.8 l/100 km (22 mpg) in the city and 10.0 l/100 km (28 mpg) on the highway.
Great handling but soft springs
The Jetta’s familiar front McPherson strut/rear track-correcting torsion beam rear axle provides sure-footed handling and excellent lateral stability. Standard all-season tires are 195/65R-15 inch, while 205/55R-16 inch tires are optional. With a turning circle of just 10 metres (32.8 feet), the Jetta is fairly easy to drive around town.
Braking is excellent too – four wheel disc brakes and ABS are standard equipment. However, when braking hard there is some forward ‘dive’, and when accelerating, backward pitch is moderately excessive. This is primarily due to softer springs. Apparently, these springs were designed for the ‘softer’ North American market – great on the freeway, but not so much fun on a twisty road. For those who enjoyed the handling of the previous-generation Jetta, these springs come as a bit of a let-down. The good news is that VW does offer stiffer springs through its dealerships.
Jetta GLS 1.8T models include an anti skid system called ‘ASR’ or Anti-Slip Regulation, and a low-speed traction control system called ‘EDL’ or Electronic Differential Lock. The EDL system works up to speeds of 38 km/h while the ASR system works at any speed controlling throttle response and applying brake forces to wheels that have lost traction. The result is increased traction, more stability when cornering on slippery surfaces, and less chance of losing control in dangerous driving conditions. This system is standard on the 1.8T.
The similarities between Audi and VW are evident in the passenger cabin (Audi is VW’s luxury arm). The Jetta offers the same kind of dashboard materials and pleasant, simple dash design.
The new Jetta’s radio and heater are positioned lower than in previous-generation Jettas, but I found controls easy to reach. Near the top of the dash are controls for the optional front seat heaters with five heat settings – a great idea. There’s also an On/Off button for the ASR, rear defroster, and a hazard button. The lower dash also has two pull-out cupholders.
The overall quality of interior materials is high – nice touches include chromed door handles and a chromed shift gate for the transmission. The front sport seats have excellent lateral support, and interior room is adequate for four adults – the high ceiling provides plenty of headroom, and the raised front seats add room for the rear passengers’ feet.
Outward visibility is generally good, but visibility to the rear is obstructed slightly by the high trunklid, and by the centre head restraint if it is not removed.
My only major complaint is the type of soft velour seat fabric used. It attracts hairs and lint and requires cleaning at least once a week, particularly if you have black seats.
For the 1.8T GLS base price of $25,250, you get a premium eight speaker AM/FM cassette stereo with CD prep (CD player optional), power rack and pinion steering, power windows (one-touch up/down in front), air conditioning, height-adjustable driver’s seat, lockable 60/40 split folding rear seats, cruise control, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, remote central locking and a foldaway key fob, anti-theft alarm and vehicle immobilizer, intermittent speed-sensitive wipers, power heated mirrors, tachometer and rear reading lights.
Major options include leather upholstery, a four-speed automatic transmission, alloy wheels, sunroof, metallic paint, and a premium Monsoon sound system.
Standard safety features include front and side airbags (in the front seats), five three-point seatbelts and five adjustable head restraints, four wheel disc brakes with ABS, ASR, and a rigid body shell.
Like all VW’s the 1.8T comes with a 2 year/40,000 km warranty and a 5 year/80,000 km powertrain warranty.
The base price is $25,250 plus $545 freight. With an automatic transmission, that jumps to $26,250.