CAR REVIEW: Once
upon a time, in a land known for sauerkraut, Schnitzel and cool beer,
there was a small company called Volkswagen that made a little car for
the masses. They made a lot of little cars actually, with little
air-cooled engines and skinny tires and meager horsepower.
But now theyíre making
bigger cars, with bigger liquid-cooled engines and fatter tires and real
power. Yes, Volkswagen has come a long way since before World War II
when all they made was the Beetle. Now, with a bevy of new cars, station
wagons and SUVs, VW has got a foothold into the 21st century.
Enter the recently
redesigned Jetta, a venerable model that seems to get only better with
age. We got the opportunity to drive an S model with few options but
lots of personality, as we usually get fully-loaded test cars, so it was
nice to have a more basic model to drive.
The look of the Jetta
has morphed from a squarish, hunkered-down Euro-sedan to a more rounded,
svelte and attractive world car, not easily pigeon-holed into European,
Japanese or Korean styling. Lets just say it looks like a VW. And thatís
a good thing. Enough said.
That look includes an
attractive front clip with jeweled headlights, a thick chrome strip
dividing the grill, with chrome accents under the headlights, and a
large VW emblem to top it all off. Move down the flowing fenders, into
the large greenhouse, past the turn signal-embedded mirrors and feel the
body grow in height until you reach the rear end with its stylized
taillights with integrated reverse lamps and low liftover into the
cavernous trunk, with which you can easily store enough bags for three
or four people on a week-long trip.
Jetta S comes standard
with a 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower, and thatís up
from 150 HP last year, and 177 lb.-ft. of torque that flows through
either a five-speed manual gearbox thatís standard, or our testerís
six-speed automatic with Tiptronic and sport modes. With this engine
expect 0 to 60 times in 8.5 seconds or so, according to VW.
If your heart needs
more power, then you can upgrade to the GLI model with a 2.0-liter
turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 200 horsepower and 207 lb.-ft-
of torque. But those 30 extra horses come at a premium price of about
$6000 over the as-tested cost of our S model.
Added to that sweet
five-cylinder engine is a set of McPherson struts and a stabilizer bar
up front, plus a fully independent four-link rear suspension with
another stabilizer bar at the rear. and it rides on 16-inch all-season
tires. Now youíve got yourself a great handling car, with a good ride
and a high fun-to-drive quotient.
Since we had to leave
town for a few days, we didnít get a chance to drive our usual test
loop. We did, however, drive in some hilly terrain and never lost
confidence in the Jetta on the unfamiliar roads; it went where pointed
and never complained.
Driving the Jetta
around became more fun as the days passed with more familiarity of the
controls and adhesion limits and figuring out when best to shift for
ourselves or when to just let the computer do all the work.
computer really got us going, too. We found we enjoyed driving in the
sport mode through the hills, rather than shifting ourselves. There was
a delay in shifting that most automanuals have, so letting the computer
decide when to shift gears was more fun and really put to good use the
available torque at any given moment. With more time behind the wheel,
we probably would prefer the former but sometimes time is not on your
And since gas prices
are reaching ever higher, we were pleasantly surprised to get about 32
miles per gallon on an extended highway trip, especially considering the
EPA ratings of 21 city and 29 highway. When was the last time you heard
of an automotive journalist, or anyone for that matter, beating EPA
estimates? We could boil it down to an inaccurate trip odometer reset,
but the few miles difference wouldnít amount to that much.
Inside the Jetta is all
business with its tidy gauge cluster, easy to use controls and comfy
seats all around. As in years past, the speedo and tach gauges glow blue
at night, but the handy driver information display stays red, as do that
surrounding gauge lights. Itís a good look thatís easy on the eyes.
We loved the
versatility and ease of use getting a good seating position; it seemed
that everything was adjustable, except for the pedals. The steering
wheel tilts and telescopes, the seatback was motorized but the rest of
it was manually adjustable. It didnít take long for either driver to
find a good perch and both were fatigue-free by the end of eight hours
on the road.
The Jetta begins at
$16,990 with a whole big bunch of standard items, including power
windows and locks and a nifty feature where you can roll up or down all
four windows with the key in the driverís door, electro-mechanical speed
sensitive steering, split folding rear seats, eight-speaker AM/FM/CD
stereo, as well as ABS, traction control (Anti-Slip Regulation in VW
speak), Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution and TPMS (tire pressure
monitoring). Add the Tiptronic six-speed automatic and youíre only
talking another $1,075, for a grand total MSRP of only $18,065. For what
you pay, you really get a whole lot of automobile here for a very
Think of the VW Jetta
as a pair of sensible shoes that you can take out for a comfortable jog
on a nice sunny day.
By James E. Bryson ©
Byline: CAR Review provided by Tony
Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Volkswagen Home Page
Column Name: The Peoples Car For The Driver In all
Topic: The 2008 Volkswagen Jetta S
Word Count: 1,028
Photo Caption: The 2008 Volkswagen Jetta S
Photo Credits: Volkswagen Jetta Internet Media
Series #: 2008 - 36
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2008 VW Jetta
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2008 VW Jetta