Jetta model brings VW class for a budget price

The City branding concept Volkswagen has developed for Canada is a nifty one: take the previous generation Golf/Jetta duo and offer them, revised, at a budget price.

While 2007 was the first year of that strategy, aside from equipment choices, the pair for ’08 has hardly changed from the original concept.

The basic structure remains the same, offering a solid chassis, spacious interior and very good handling.


Style-wise, the front and rear ends get new treatments, with the front getting the most attention via a new grille and headlight treatment.

Inside, the City Jetta keeps the excellent driving position and quality ergonomics this fourth-gen version was born with and adds useful standard features like a height-adjustable driver’s seat, electric mirrors, remote central power locks and a six-speaker radio with CD/MP3 capabilities, auxiliary input and USB connectors.

The car maintains the same luxurious look and feel as the original, with a soft-rubber dashboard, good seat fabrics and an adjustable armrest. The steering wheel and centre console are revised for ’08, the latest to accommodate the new double-DIN sized radio.

The City Jetta is still powered by a trusty 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 115 hp.

But the single most important upgrade is the available six-speed automatic gearbox. This transmission offers the choice of operating in normal ‘drive’ mode, a sporty S mode that keeps the revs up longer and downshifts more aggressively, and a ‘+/-’ mode that lets you select and hold any one of the six gears. Standard is a good, short-ratio five-speed manual gearbox. Both gearboxes are good choices, but the new six-speed auto is very good and perfectly suits the engine.

Driving leaves the impression of a car that costs more than it actually does. It certainly doesn’t shout “economy car.”

Handling is its forte, as are passenger and driver comfort in the long run. Fuel frugality is also a strong selling point.

As tested, with the new six-speed automatic and most options — heated seats, electric windows, A/C — the City Jetta has a fuel consumption rating of 9.9 L/100 km in town and 6.9 L/100 km on the highway.

So, how much for this second take on the fourth-gen Jetta?

In base form, $16,900. The must-have six-speed automatic is a $1,400 option; A/C is $1,350; the comfort package, which includes electric windows, power heated mirrors, cruise control and 15-inch alloy wheels is $975; the cold weather package, which includes heated seats and heated windshield washers is $275; sunroof is $1,200 and ESP is a $450 touch.

Far from being outdated, the City Jetta has plenty of wonderful years ahead of it as an entry-level model offering a lot of features and driving fun for not too many of your precious loonies.

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