Friday, August 8, 2014

VW Jetta surprises with performance, agility

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews also can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website – via the “GALLERY: Reviews of new cars” link at

This review originally appeared in the July 2014 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, California Let me state straight-up that I like the Volkswagen Jetta sedan, and I’m obviously not alone in that.  It has long been Volkswagen of America’s No. 1 selling car.

Yes, the styling is pretty conservative, and yes, a brand-spanking-new 2015 Jetta was unveiled recently at the New York International Auto Show.

That new Jetta is something to look forward to, but let me suggest that if you can lay your hands on a 2014 Volkswagen SEL for a good price, go for it.

Why?  Because my 2014 SEL tester ran like a scalded cat.  This surprised me immensely, because the sticker told me that the power plant was a 1.8-liter, turbocharged in-line 4 with 170 horsepower.  Sure, that’s fine, but my ride really surpassed the expectations spelled out in print.  Truth be told, it all but demanded to be driven like it was stolen.

Imagine my surprise the first time I encountered a freeway slowpoke and rather GENTLY nudged the gas pedal.  Instead of slight increase in propulsion, I was pushed back into my seat and propelled to the rear bumper of the aforementioned poke in the time it takes to sneeze.  Darn near ran into the guy.

Now that the Jetta had my attention, I started making increasingly aggressive moves and was feeling like Mario Andretti in no time.  The performance was just so far beyond what one normally gets from a max horsepower rating of 170 and 184 foot-pounds of torque.  From a front-driver, no less.

And oh, there’s a bonus: exceptional agility.

The Jetta whistled into freeway holes without creating disruption, and its turn-on-a-dime dexterity made mincemeat of crawling downtown traffic.  Needless to say, I had a fun week in this Jetta, pretty much blasting anticipation of the upcoming 2015 version out of my mind for the time being.

For all its surprising, beastly oomph, my Jetta was quite civilized on the inside.  The long list of standard comfort and convenience features included satellite radio, a power sunroof, heated front seats, rear seat pass-through via armrest, front fog lights, heated exterior power mirrors and more.

Two reasonable-size people can fit in the back seats.  I would not try fitting three back there.

The tested Jetta’s safety features were plentiful, accompanied by most-favorable crash test ratings.  Extensive warranties also get a checkmark in the Jetta’s plus column.  And the Jetta can be had in, I’m serious, 17 trim levels.

Fuel mileage is very nice at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. The starting fare for all this: a reasonable $25,590.

No wonder VW sells so many of these Jettas on American soil.

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