Perhaps more so than any other model in its lineup, the Jetta is truly Volkswagen’s people’s car in North America. Starting at only $14,990, it’s the cheapest car the German marque offers here, having bumped its hatchback Golf sibling up a rung as a sportier, slightly more premium offering.
More than just about dollars and sense, the Jetta comes in enough flavours to satisfy a lot of different tastes and motoring needs. That basic Trendline car at under fifteen grand, features some seats and wheels, a meagre, inefficient lump of an engine and little else. But there are good German-engineered genes in the family and much better drivetrains and equipment levels can be had for higher budgets. And while the fan-favourite 2.0L turbo diesel TDI has been updated for 2015 and is catching most of the headlines, it’s the excellent 1.8L turbo gas engine that is featured in this review.
Filling out the remarkable variety of engines in the Jetta lineup, a hybrid and a sportier GLI model will make their return to Canadian dealerships later this year, making this the only car in its class to offer four distinctly different powertrain formats. Throw a fuel-cell version and maybe a big, honkin’ V8 into the mix and VW would truly have every angle covered.
And it seems Canadians like the variety, for despite this being the fifth year of production of the current generation Jetta, the sales numbers have continued to rise here in the Great White North year over year. 2014’s 31,000 units sold represents a new record for the Volkswagen compact, and while still well short of the number of Civics Honda moved last year, the Jetta is unquestionably a major player in the Canadian compact car market.
It’s not difficult to see why the Jetta remains as popular as it is. Despite cost cutting measures for the current generation that launched in 2011 resulting in some cheaper trim pieces, the model has continued to improve and evolve to the current car’s best-ever offering.
The Jetta’s exterior is understated yet sophisticated as it has always been, like a plain but well-cut blazer. It’s casual enough to be contemporary, yet has enough class to be worn out to dinner and drinks. The subtly updated 2015 model is pretty much only identifiable by the LED lighting bling that’s been added to the headlight assembly, but that’s okay – it’s still instantly recognizable as a Jetta. The Silk Blue Metallic paint on our test car is an outstanding choice thanks to its impressive finish and radiant glow in the sunlight.