2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0
2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

Photo Gallery:
2011 Volkswagen Jetta

Toronto, Ontario – Fully redesigned inside and out, the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta was recently introduced in San Francisco, with test drives of U.S. market vehicles powered by the available 170-horsepower, 2.5-litre, five-cylinder engine.

This model (with slightly different standard features) is also available in Canada, but here, Volkswagen is heavily marketing the new Jetta entry-level model with a starting price of $15,875. For that amount the Jetta arrives with a reworked version of its venerable 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that makes 115 hp.

As well, the diesel Jetta TDI – always popular in Canada, and representing 40 per cent of Jetta sales here – starts at $23,875 for the six-speed manual “Comfortline” model.

We recently had a chance to drive both the 2.0L and TDI on mixed surfaces in and around Toronto, and while the cars behave similarly to those tested at the official launch, there are some differences to report.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0
2011 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0. Click image to enlarge

The supplied 2.0L version was an $18,675 Trendline + with six-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes 15-inch steel wheels with covers, power windows with auto up/down, power door locks, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes. The Trendline + specification adds air conditioning and remote door locks.

Expected to be a popular choice, the Trendline + offers the look and features of the new Jetta at a price competitive with other compact cars. There are some notable omissions, though.

Power mirrors and cruise control, for example, are two popular features that will be missed by buyers of the 2.0L Trendline + (these options are part of the Comfortline package, which starts at $19,075, rising to $20,475 with automatic transmission). Heated seats and heatable washer nozzles, however, are available as a stand-alone option for $275.

On the road, the revised 2.0L engine seems quieter than its predecessor, although at 115 hp it is still one of the least powerful powerplants in a compact car (a Honda Civic has 140-hp; a Mazda 3 has 148). Fuel economy is improved to 9.1/6.0 L/100km city/highway for the manual transmission models, and 9.6/6.9 L/100km for the automatics. The same engine in the 2009 City Jetta made 9.8/7.0 L/100 km using a manual transmission. The wheelbase is longer than the 2010 model by 78 millimetres, which enhances the ride and increases interior legroom.

2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI. Click image to enlarge

Acceleration is smooth enough, but not brisk, although when cruising on the highway the engine is barely noticeable and the car settles into a typically long-legged Volkswagen gait. True, the 2011 Jetta is considerably lighter than the 2010 model (the Jetta, that is, not the City Jetta, which was retired after 2009). But the 2010 car had the 170-hp 2.5-litre engine as standard equipment, and that does make a difference.

Nonetheless, the 2011 Jetta’s crisp styling is modern and attractive, already making the 74-mm shorter 2010 models look somewhat dated. As mentioned in the First Drive, at 440 litres, the Jetta’s trunk is, to borrow a phrase, “super-sized.”

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