Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI

Photos by Ulysses Ang
The Volkswagen Jetta has always lived in the shadow of its more famous (and sportier looking) sibling, the Golf. And though most see this as something less than desirable, it also means that the Jetta is one of the best kept automotive secrets; one that requires you to do a bit of digging through the details to appreciate. Though most VW enthusiasts are patiently waiting for the imminent arrival of the Golf (and the subsequent hotter version, the GTI), after spending some good seat time with the Jetta 2.0 TDI, it can be said for certain: there’s no need for waiting. The Golf is here, albeit wearing a sedan body shell.

From a quick glance, the Jetta won’t win any flashy looks contest. In fact, it’s styled conservatively, but not in a boring way. It’s handsome, crisply-styled, and decisively Teutonic. It’s clean and without unnecessary body cladding; two key features which will age it very well. The overall theme is one of horizontal lines from the front’s bisecting bumper and slit headlamps, the body length creases on the sides, to the rear end’s rakish profile. Each corner is filled by 16-inch alloy wheels fitted with 205/55R16 tires, which look nicely proportioned but don’t really stand out. By and large, the Jetta looks like an Audi in training down to the high-quality paintjob and the weighty doors that surprise you as you pull the handles to get inside.

At first, the interior appears as promising as the exterior. The dashboard is cleanly styled in the classic Volkswagen idiom. The leather, plastics, and metal accents too are presented very well. However, as your fingers start running through the cabin, things start to take a different turn. In areas where you’d expect some give, there’s none. The upper panels of the cabin are fine, but everything else feels rather cheap. The single biggest culprit is the door panels which don’t offer any sort of soft-touch insert be in leather, fabric, or plastic. Knock it and it reverberates with an unconvincing hallow sound that seems more Chinese than German. The beige color doesn’t help things either.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad.

Despite a noticeable cheapening of the interior, the Jetta doesn’t shortchange you when it comes to the most important aspect: the controls. The leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter are pleasing to operate and the control stalks feel great. The wheel adjusts for both reach and height while the seats are widely adjustable for a great ergonomic fit. Air conditioning controls and all other secondary controls are intelligently located and pleasingly simple to use. Other automakers could do well in learning from Volkswagen when it comes to designing control layouts. A big plus is the available cabin space for all occupants, front and back, where there’s more than ample space for five full-grown adults. The trunk is also cavernous with a relatively flat and unobtrusive load space perfect for luggage or golf sets.

One sour note though is the RCD 310 infotainment system which is laggy at best and counter intuitive to use most of the time. It’s supposed to offer both iPod and Bluetooth audio streaming/hands-free telephony, neither of which could be done after countless hours of fiddling with the controls and flipping through the owner’s manual. And even after resorting to playing tracks on a USB stick, navigating through the folders is painfully slow. That said, if you just leave the car to play your music for you, the 8-speaker sound system is awesome offering crisp vocals and deep bass.

Equally appreciative is the way Volkswagen has dialed in the Jetta’s on-road demeanor. Although the sheet metal doesn’t look sporty, it’s actually quite spirited and fun behind the wheel. The 2.0-liter TDI turbo diesel, with its 110 horsepower output, may not seem like the first choice of enthusiasts, but the 280 Nm of torque from as low as 1,750 rpm certainly is. Cranking up the diesel-fed engine to life reveals a characteristic clatter before settling into a surprisingly quiet hum. It idles smoothly with little engine vibration compared to German diesels twice or even thrice the Jetta’s price. The jumpy throttle and high clutch engagement requires patience (and a well-honed left leg) to master, but after a while, you’ll get used to it. The gearbox itself engages crisply with precise, but slightly long throws. Being a diesel, the Jetta could certainly use an extra gear, but the spacing of the five-speed box is just as good. It makes full use of the TDI’s power band and produces both excellent in-city response and stellar highway cruising ability. Get this: 100 km/h comes up at an ultra-low 1,850 rpm on fifth gear. The engine/gearbox pairing produces 14.28 km/L in city traffic and up to 27.78 km/L on the highway; meaning the Jetta can realistically travel past 800 kilometers between fill-ups with its 55-liter tank.

The Germanic level of engineering continues with the Jetta’s body structure, which in a word is solid. The highly rigid platform then sees the fully independent suspension bolted on top of it. Thanks to this, the Jetta feels right at home tackling pothole-ridden city streets or curvy mountain passes. Everyday dynamics is largely superb with feathery-light steering and little friskiness from the suspension. It’s able to absorb most bumps save for a few ones. These few though make their way through the cabin rattling and jiggling the occupants, especially the rear, in the process. On more enthusiastic roads, it behaves neutrally at first through a corner, only to understeer midway. More than once, a steering correction is needed. On the flipside, it feels very composed at high speeds. The brakes offer a firm, easily modulated pedal with confident halts when needed.

The Volkswagen Jetta’s claim to German engineering aside, you don’t get much for the P 1,295,000 asking price. Aside from cowhide on the steering wheel and shifter and the usual power features (windows, door locks, and mirrors), you don’t get much luxury features after that. Thankfully, the thin list of convenience features doesn’t scrimp on safety which includes a full suite of airbags, anti-lock brakes, parking sensors for both front and back, and electronic stability control. This all means that the Jetta is bound to attract only a specific set of buyers. For one, you need to be comfortable driving a manual on a daily basis. But for those who’re dead set on getting one, it’s an underappreciated gem of a car. It may be rough around the edges, but there’s some high quality stuff in there. The Jetta just needs some polishing, but drive one and you get glimpses of what Das Auto is all about.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI
Ownership 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI Trendline M/T
Year Introduced 2014
Vehicle Classification Compact
The Basics
Body Type 4-door sedan
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Turbo, Common Rail Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders Inline-4
BHP @ rpm 110 @ 2,750-4,200
Nm @ rpm 280 @ 1,750-2,750
Fuel / Min. Octane Diesel
Transmission 5MT
Cruise Control No
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,618
Width (mm) 1,778
Height (mm) 1,453
Wheelbase (mm) 2,651
Curb Weight (kg) 1,450
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Tires Michelin Energy Saver 205/55R16V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front and Rear
Exterior Features
Headlights Halogen
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear
Auto Lights No
Auto Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjustment Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Manual
Seating Surface Fabric
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control No
Audio System Stereo
No. of Speakers 8
Steering Wheel Controls Yes


  1. Cool. It has rear aircon vents.

  2. The review I've been waiting for...

  3. honest to goodness sedan. Problem is the rear seat space and the high hump in the rear passenger foot well. Clutch engagement takes getting used to but the car drives pretty well. Another problem is the high asking price for the equipment you'll get. VW be better to introduce the automatic or DSG anytime soon.

    1. That's because VW is banking on "German engineering".

    2. we want the Jetta with DSG - VW phils., when will you listen up!

    3. It has large rear seat compared to japanese suv.

  4. Boring design. For that price, there are several alternatives that are better-looking and well-kitted.

  5. A VW in 1.295m.. Interesting.. Although.. there is a Mazda 3 2.0R priced at 1.298m which is 3000pesos higher but has more Tech features than the Jetta.. Just saying.. hahaha.. But still.. what would you guys prefer? In terms of comfort and refinement? Is it a VW Jetta or a Mazda 3?

    1. I will go for 2016 VW Jetta. Jetta 2016 is a discounted Audi A3. They have the same engine.
      And M/T is available.

  6. There are only two things that justify the price: the engineering and the engine.

  7. The only thing that jacks the price of German cars are the fancy badges.

    Besides, if you live outside Metro Manila or Cebu, maintaining the Jetta would be a PITA.

  8. I have a jetta. The suspension is very good. confident and stable ride past 100km/hr. Fuel economy is significantly better than my 1.3 vios. Cabin space is best in class. it is not a flashy car. The car seat material is cooler than any other i've rode. Let my 5 yr old and 12yr kids choose between a jetta, vios, corolla, pajero, fortuner and hiace. Both of them always point to the jetta because of its more comfotable ride.

    1. Ang dami mo din pala sasakyan ah. Ako apat na sportivo at tatlong adventure lang naka garahe dito samen. By the way, seaman ako.

    2. I have 9 siblings and we live together. the pajero is a repossed unit. bought the jetta at introductory 200th discount. before, I really thought Isuzu is the king of diesel. actually, d4d of Toyotas are much better. German diesels are even better. check the engine oil level. the d4ds and the Germans have clean engine oil inside their engines.

    3. Hi. I am an OFW and I still would prepare the Isuzu brand. Tested na poh kasi namen ang sportivo. Isuzu is the #1 brand for us OFWs! Mas maganda pa kesa mga Toyota o Honda.

  9. jetta or mazda? Well, it is so easy to choose. If you want m/t, go for jetta. a/t, go for mazda. jetta = diesel. Mazda = gasoline. comfortable = jetta. sporty = mazda. kung ikaw ang driver, go for mazda. Kung ikaw ang passenger, go for jetta.

  10. I just can't believe that it's already 2015 and they're putting the 2014 model as 2015 model. I mean for 1.25 M pesos, they should at least import the new 2015 models with bixenon headlamps and led lights. It's fine that DSG variant won't be introduced yet, but it wouldn't hurt to at least sell us the new model, not the old ones that other countries are throwing away at us.

    1. They will release an updated version sometime during the year. It will have an AT transmission but I don't know what else.

      Likely as a 2016 model?

  11. I do hope they tune that TDI engine to similar outputs as the US and EUR models (150hp, 320Nm). Also, they should bring in the DSG tranny. Even though some would argue the value of German engineering but in the US, VW is marketing the Jetta to be competitively priced and targeted to take out a share of the sales of the Mazda3, Focus, Altis, and Civic. For around the same price, a Subaru XV will be a better choice.

    1. Tune the engine? First you gotta fix the shitty diesel quality if this country.

    2. Newer engines are more difficult to maintain. The simpler the engine, the better in the long run. I've driven a Philippine version jetta. It is not underpowered in anyway. I can say, it is the most fuel efficient car i've ever driven.

    3. Volkswagen is a little bit more expensive than most Korean and Japanese brands because they offer more safety features.

  12. the jetta is supposed to be a people's car but they are pricing it as a luxury compact.

    1. The people's car when compared to other german branded cars. But this jetta can save you fuel in the long run. That is, if the tdi engine do its job.

  13. Bringing a fully equiped jetta in the market will cost 2m approximately. remember 3 letters TAX