The Volkswagen Jetta Undergoes a Facelift

Jason Rand

The Volkswagen Jetta: Love it or hate it, it has become a trademark for our generation. For 2005.5, it’s completely new, and what a facelift it has gotten. I own a 2001 Jetta and when I test drove the new 2005.5 Jetta, I didn’t feel like I was a driving a Jetta. For that matter, I didn’t feel like I was driving a Volkswagen. It is sportier, bigger, faster and yes – more expensive than the previous model. The model I test drove was the 2.5L version, featuring automatic transmission, dual climate control, heated front seats, advanced trip computer and ESP, priced at around $22,500. Previous Volkswagen owners will first notice the redesigned head and tail lights. In addition to the chiseled lights, the new chrome grill adds a lot of class. The car looks more aggressive from both ends, as if it is about to jump out at you. The Jetta has grown too, and is closer in size to the Passat. In addition to the exterior, look for integrated directional signals in the rear-view mirrors, a good safety feature that will make you more visible on the road. Stepping inside the new Jetta, the interior is closer in quality to a BMW 3-series or an Audi A4. The “base model” includes chrome accents galore and brushed aluminum everywhere. As a standard feature now on the Jetta 2.5L, the car comes equipped with leatherette seating, which feels and looks just like real leather. The center console is more logical, featuring a larger display screen for control of the CD/mp3 stereo system. XM or Sirius Radio is optional. The dashboard follows in the previous model’s tradition of blue and red lighting. The three-spoke steering wheel also adds a sporty touch to the car. As you cruise down Broad Street, your buddies in the backseat will thank you, as there is lot more leg room than in the previous model. Six airbags and active head restraints are standard, as is a remote locking system. The car is now equipped with six cup holders and a rear armrest with access to the trunk. As is the case with the previous model, the rear seats are 60/40 folding standard, which

means you will have no problem stuffing large items such as a television or skis in this car. Options include stereo controls directly on the steering wheel and additional trip computer options, real leather and wood interior. Now, about power. The engine found in the “Value Edition” and the 2.5L versions are identical: a 2.5-liter, 150-horsepower 5-cylinder engine with 170 lb-ft of torque. What this means is that you are going to go a lot faster than if you were driving the previous base model with 115-horsepower. While it’s no high-end BMW, it is a significant improvement and you can feel and hear more “oomph” coming from the engine. The all-new 6-speed automatic tiptronic transmission model I drove shifts nicely and tiptronic mode allows for more of that manual-esque feeling in an automatic. If fuel efficiency is your concern, there is also the 1.9-liter turbo diesel engine. A carry-over from the previous model-year, this engine has high fuel efficiency, garnering between 38-46 miles per gallon. For those of you who are more lead-footed, I would wait to see how the 5-speed manual transmission acts when mixed with the 2.5L engine. If speed is a priority, wait until late summer, when the all-new 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine will make its appearance in the Jetta. I imagine that the 200-horsepower engine will propel this Jetta from 0 to 60 mph at lightening fast speeds. With a combination of its advanced manual transmission, DSG, this car might be an even better and worthwhile contender to BMW, Mercedes and Audi. Volkswagen’s new slogan: “The new Jetta. It’s all grown up. Sort of.” Its image is changing, and we are the new targets: from 16-year old high school students to college graduates with jobs. The shift in price should dictate this change, as sticker prices I saw maxed out at nearly $27,000 – a lot of money considering that you are buying a Volkswagen, a car at one time considered “the people’s car.” The new Jetta will be a worthy contender against entry-level BMWs, Mercedes, Audis and Volvos.