The Jetta is gone and it’s left a big, and I mean BIG, hole in our long-term fleet. The Jetta’s USP, as we realised over the 10 months we ran it, was that it effortlessly lent itself to so many roles. Need a nice car for a dinner date? The Jetta’s understated style fit the bill. Need a diesel saloon for the month-end bank-balance saving commute? The Jetta’s 15kpl would do it. An airport pickup? The big 510-litre boot swallowed the excess baggage. Something to impress the folks on a trip home for Christmas? The Jetta was the ticket. This natural multi-role playing ability was why the Jetta was popular with everyone bar none at the Autocar office.
It’s why we put on a considerable 21,000km on it over the time we had it. Part of the reason for the high mileage is the car’s tremendous highway abilities. Its absolutely flat ride at high speeds, long-legged gait and cruising speed refinement simply made it one of those cars that you could drive halfway across the country without realising it. It was rather fun to drive too – the car’s electronic limited slip differential gave it unbelievable front-end grip, body control was tight and the steering, though not the most feelsome, was adequately direct. That the Jetta wouldn’t guzzle fuel only made it all the more popular here.
Then there was the size. It was just the right size for Mumbai – not as big as a Passat and manageable enough to be easy to park and drive through the tight confines of the island city.
And, as everyone knows, Mumbai’s streets are a shining example of how not to build roads. So it’s a testament to the Jetta’s build quality that not a single rattle crept up, despite being driven by all our testers over all kinds of bumps and potholes.
What’s more, apart from a small rattle that was promptly traced to a loose rubber beading under the bonnet, the Jetta has had absolutely no problems and never required an unscheduled visit to the workshop.
Our collective frequent traveller status also meant the Jetta hit the first service mark of 15,000km rather soon, and we were surprised when the car came back promptly, running smoother than ever before. We were also pleasantly surprised by the bill – it came to Rs 11,258, which is impressive considering this is a full-size luxury saloon.
Speaking of costs, the Jetta is quite expensive. At Rs 22.56 lakh for this top-end Jetta auto Highline, it is easily the most expensive in its class and it doesn’t have many of the features you would expect at this price. Climate control and Bluetooth, in particular, were sorely missed.
The kind ones among our testers would argue that the extra money was spent in engineering the car – looking into the small details, making sure every surface felt rich and well built, and this is absolutely true. The Jetta felt as safe as a battle tank and we would have to look long and hard to find faults with the car.
In the end, the Jetta came across as a beautifully engineered, superbly understated, handsomely styled saloon that did almost everything right. Unlike its predecessor, we think VW got most of this Jetta spot on.
Price: Rs 22.56 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy: 14.8kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs: Rs 11,258