Beauty Doesn’t Come Cheap
By Kate McLeod
Oh, crumb, VW is calling the new 2005 Jetta “all grown up.” Don’t you just hate that? Well, it’s not so bad. It is bigger and better (seven inches was added to the length, one inch to the width and 2.6 inches to the wheelbase.). They want to appeal to a more mature buyer––that would be us?
We drove the new Jetta a few weeks ago. Its 2.5- liter five-cylinder engine with 150 horsepower, 170 lb.-ft. of torque and a six-speed automatic with sport mode and Tiptronic create a confident connection to the car and road. That’s not a lot of horsepower but there is plenty of low-end torque in its big engine with “Go! Baby” performance. Enthusiasts: wait for the manual.
A speedy GLI model with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder 200 horsepower turbocharged gas engine, launches this summer coupled with a five-speed manual transmission. Also due soon is a fuel-efficient (TDI) diesel 4-cylinder paired with a 6-speed manual that delivers 100 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque. Hey everyone, VW’s doing diesel!
The front-wheel-drive Jetta is the one of the best-selling European nameplate in the U.S. and it’s about 40% of Volkswagen U.S. sales. You can’t find a better interior for the money, darlin’. Doesn’t exist.
And are we totally obsessed with detail? Yes we are. From the cabin to 16-cubic-foot, entirely upholstered trunk, it reeks of class––understated, elegant class. With 60/40-split fold-down rear seats and you can haul some serious accoutrements. Interior details include a three-spoke steering wheel, wood, and metal accents around the gauges, on door handles, and on the parking brake and shifter. The handsome three-spoke steering wheel and a thoughtfully laid out dash and instrumentation complete an interior that could be called “maison”.
VW’s signature red and blue lighting in the cabin makes you wish for the nighttime. There are lumbar support front seats and 35.4 inches of leg room like the Corolla. The dials, buttons and switches are Audi-like––no-nonsense. Mercifully, you can operate the radio without going to advanced electronics school.
The Jetta is a good driver, holding the road in a devoted way that pays tribute to its new multi-link rear suspension and much stiffer body shell. An electro-mechanical steering system makes it a dream to handle. Traction control and ABS are standard. Electronic stability control system is standard except on the value model, where it costs $289. Passive safety includes front and side airbags for front seat passenger and driver as well as side curtain airbags for both front and rear seats. The new Jetta is based the Golf V platform and uses advanced energy absorbing crumple zone technology.
The base price for the 2.5-liter engine and a five-speed manual transmission starts at $18,515; for a six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic, $19,590. Options like power seats, leather and an upgraded audio system push the sticker $27,000. My fully loaded Jetta with no navigation system was almost $28,000––time to start looking at a Passat. It’s pricey for a 5-cylinder. Prices in this category range between $14,000 and $20,000 but base price is never the real story and beauty doesn’t come cheap. EPA fuel economy is rated at 22 city/30 highway.
Volkswagen is a gay-friendly company.