The Volkswagen Jetta – A (Price) Class Above

May 18, 12 The Volkswagen Jetta – A (Price) Class Above

Ok, let’s get the most obvious fact out of the way. At about RM155k on-the-road with insurance, this is effectively the most expensive C segment sedan you can buy in Malaysia. The next most obvious question is, is it blardy worth it? Now that is subjective …. after all, being expensive or not is a relative point.

Depending on your perspective about its pricing, the Jetta is often thought of as:-

1) Pay a bit more and get the iconic Golf TSi which, unlike the Mexican-made Jetta is fully imported from Wolfsburg, Germany and has better driving dynamics (or so you imagine a hot hatch would be)
2) Pay some more and get the bigger D segment VW Passat which, if you opt for 7 years repayment just costs an addition of about RM280 extra in monthly repayment (assuming you take 90% loan and interest rate @ 2.5% PA).
3) If it’s a conti you want, Peugeot, arch nemesis of VW seem to offer just as much at a lot less prices

So, is the asking price justified? Let’s look at this in detail.

Design

Some have criticized the designers of the Jetta to have made it a tad boring. Personally from my point of view, I love its understated classy, evergreen design. The Audi A4-ish rear is probably worth all the money you have to part with to take this car home (which is to say you don’t have to pay an Audi A4 price for a car that looks like it’s an Audi A4 at the back).

The front wears the VW family grill and if you like it but can’t afford it, you can buy the cheapest VW (the Polo Sedan), stare at it closer till the dimensions matches the Jetta. Tada! You’ve just saved RM50k

The first few Jettas were essentially a Golf plonked with a boot. This Mk VI of the Jetta no longer shares any body panels with the Golf and has a longer wheelbase

Performance

Powering the Jetta is the same 1.4litre twin-charged TSi engine as the Golf 1.4 TSi, churning 160PS @ 5,800rpm and 240Nm torque from a low 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm. The engine is mated to the ubiquitous 7 speed DSG dual clutch gearbox.

There has been numerous complaints about gearbox juddering/engine misfiring and in more serious cases mechatronic (imagine a manual car where your left foot controlling the clutches when changing gears is replaced with an electronic component that works the clutches) failures. Fortunately, VW has a gearbox firmware update that is supposedly the cure to the juddering/misfiring issues as well as control the mechatronic issue. So, do not need to be overtly worried about this.

Acceleration is brisk, hitting the century mark in 8.3 seconds which is just marginally slower than the Golf TSi’s 8.0 second sprint.

Push the gears down to S and gear changes happen at higher RPM, allowing you to drag the car longer and faster. Good for some heady excitement but not good for the engine in the long run (heard this is the key suspect in mechatronic failure but no actual data to support this so it’s just conjuncture)

Handing and Ride

Though the Jetta is made in Mexico, it has German DNA and the Jetta demonstrates it capabilities well around high speed corners. Body roll is kept in check and the car turns with little drama. You’ve got to love the excellent NVH … the car certainly feels it’s worth every sen you pay for.

But …. whatever the Jetta can do in handling and ride, I felt the Golf can do it better. Both Golf and Jetta has galvanized body parts and when doing some car stunts on the road, you truly feel the car’s chassis and suspension work as one. The laws of physics can’t be fooled however, the longer sedan can never match the driving dynamics of the Golf. I’m not saying the Jetta is unrewarding to drive; just that it is shadowed by the Golf. Of course, this don’t matter much if you’re a family man and playing corners is just not your thing … now if that’s really true, you should have a Toyota Altis catalog somewhere in your house too.

No, a conti is a conti and no matter what, ride, handling and performance of Asian made cars can never match a conti (the Nissan GTR however is a totally different monster). Those who go for the Jetta wants the dynamics of a VW without sacrificing space …. and space is something the Jetta has in abundance.

Cabin Convenience

The Jetta has acres and acres of space inside! A man in a Godzilla suit won’t have any trouble fitting in there. It’s amazing how much the Germans can squeeze out of a mere 2,651mm wheelbase.

After adjusting the front seats to my 5’10″ frame, I could still see my shoes while sitting at the back! I can’t think of another C segment vehicle that has this much rear space inside …. I can imagine playing futsal inside the cabin …. on an iPad

While Veedubs may not win any aesthetic design contest, the ergonomics are all clinically German. Everything you would ever need is within reach and controls are all intuitive. Some call it boring … I call it functional

It’s just a bit sad that the door frames are all made of hard plastics. The dash board is, fortunately soft plastics.

Leather-wrapped steering has audio controls on the left and MFD controls on the right. Found behind are the signal and wiper stalks as well as paddle shifters:

Here’s something interesting … on this signal stalk, the cruise control is missing. If you’re  going to buy a Jetta, be aware that you have 2 specifications to choose from. With and w/o cruise control. If you pick without (ie don’t foresee driving outstation much), you get RM1,000 discount.

Here’s a cost-cutting item that (I feel) makes the driving experience a little less exciting:

Above is the instrument cluster of the Jetta ….. functional, informative …. and boring as a hospital wall. In contrast, here’s the Golf’s:

I don’t know about you but I feel aside from looking outside the car, the instrument cluster is the next most often thing you’ll be looking at inside the car. Do you have enough fuel? Are you traveling too fast? Are there any fault warning lights? The Golf’s cylindrical supervision cluster on the tacho and speed meter lends a 3D effect to the overall feel, instantly giving you a feeling of class. Watching the same cluster in the Jetta reminds me of (sorry for sounding sexist) of a beautiful chick that’s a little flat on the front (just to set the records straight in terms of female appearances, I think that’s perfectly fine. I’m not a boobs man and wholeheartedly believe that beauty shines from the inside).

Huge glove compartment with the USB cable inside. You can also choose to have an iPod/iPhone adapter to stream music directly to the head unit. That Mobile Device Interface (MDI) for iPod/iPhone needs to be purchased separately and I got mine from eBay for around RM80 something.

The RCD310 previously had a blue background. Towards the later part of last year, it became black with white fonts. Looks a lot better now, if you ask me. Sound is just ok …. nothing great to shout about. Changing the HU to RNS510 does improve the sound a bit since the RNS has an in built amplifier.

Right below the headunit you’ll find the cigarette lighter and the AUX port. Maybe it’s because I have a Golf back home, I can’t seem to get around the fact that there’s a missing plastic panel here that covers these items (the Golf have them). But I guess that’s just nit picking on my end.

You get auto light, auto wipers and manual leveling halogen headlights. Yes, for a car costing above RM150k, you still get good ol’ halogen bulbs (and don’t get me started on the yellow halogen DRLs) …. that’s like wearing an expensive shirt, trousers and shoes then putting on an el’cheapo jacket from Chow Kit and even cheap perfume. *facepalm*.

BUT! Nothing to worry about. All owners need to do is purchase white LEDs from eBay and the DRLs can be as white as your toilet sink. As for the headlights, drop by your friendly car accessory shop and a pair of HIDs from China will instantly increase your car’s appeal. Never mind the fact that em reflectors aren’t designed for HIDs and may cause excessive glare to oncoming traffic not to mention that increased appeal will probably work just as well (if not better) with local law enforcement agencies and you get flagged down more often as the officers admire your new bling bling headlights and gives you his autograph on a white sheet of paper that costs some money. Oh well …. the chinese have a saying; “Want to look good, willing to die for it”.

Life in the rear is good …. space aplenty and the car has rear aircon vents with a 12V charger. My iPhone/iPad will never run out of juice.

You get a center armrest with cup holders. Oh, and in case you missed it, the car seats are all fabric …. the only leather you’ll find is on the steering, handbrake, gearbox cover and whatever that’s on your good self when driving. To be fair, the Golf TSi, which costs more and is a smaller car also has fabric seats only

At least reading lights for individual passengers are included:

Maintenance

Since the Jetta shares the exact same engine specifications as the Golf TSi, you can expect something like this:

Service once every 15,000km or 1 year whichever comes first

Specifications

For RM150,608 without insurance, you get:

Engine & gearbox
- 1.4l 160PS TSi twincharged direct petrol injection 4-cylinder engine
- 7 speed direct shift gearbox DSG

Interior
- 3 rear headrests
- Auto dimming interior mirror
- ‘Black Pyramid’ decorative inserts for dashboard and door inserts
- ‘Climatic’ air-conditioning system with 2-zone temperature
- Cruise control (optional to remove)
- Front and rear power windows
- Hand brake lever handle in leather
- Height and reach adjustable steering wheel
- Mobile device interface Media-In with USB/iPod/AUX interface
- Multi-function leather-covered 3-spoke steering wheel with control for DSG
- Multi-function display ‘Plus’
- Parking distance control PDC – acoustic warning signal for obstacles in the front and rear
- Radio ‘RCD 310′ with MP3 player including CD player
- Radio remote controlled central locking with 2 folding keys
- Seats in ‘Sienna’ fabric
- Split folding rear backrest with centre armrest with load through provision

Exterior
- Body colored bumpers with black protective strips
- Door mirrors with integrated turn signals
- Exterior mirrors, electrically foldable with environmental lighting and curb view
- Halogen headlights with integrated turn signal indicator
- Heat-insulating green tinted glass
- ‘Navarra’ alloy wheels 6.5J x 16″ tyres 205/55/R16
- Rear fog lights
- Steel spare wheel with original equipment tyre
- Twin exhaust pipes

Safety
- 3-point inertia front seat belts with height adjustment and belt tensioners and three 3-point inertia rear seat belts
- Airbags for driver and front passenger with front passenger airbag deactivation
- Curtain airbag system for front and rear passengers including side airbags at the front
- Child seat anchor for child seat system ISOFIX
- Collapsible safety steering column
- Electronic differential lock EDL
- ABS
- EBD
- ESP
- Euro NCAP 5-star rating for adult occupant protection
- Hill-hold control
- Power assisted steering, speed sensitive
- Rain sensor
- Traction control system TCS
- Warning buzzer and warning light for unfastening front seat belts
- Warning triangle breakdown sign

I heard VGM tried to price it at around RM140k. If they were successful, then it might enjoy greater popularity. Rumor has it that the CKD version is in the making and who knows? If it is introduced, they may be able to price it more competitively. As it is, the asking price puts it at a disadvantage compared to the other competition in the market

So, in the end, is it worth it? As I have said, it’s all relative; it depends on what you’re comparing against. My opinion is that those who buys the Jetta are those who wants the space but does not like the outlook of the Passat. However, these individuals are few and according to the Malaysian Automotive Association, the Jetta didn’t even make it to the  top 50 models sold in March according to quantity. Instead, the Passat was VW’s best selling model with 301 units finding new homes while the Golf sold 193 units.

Source: http://www.motortrader.com.my/Cars/NewsHeader/News-in-2012/Market-Reports/Top-50-models-in-March.aspx

So that means one more benefit in opting for a Jetta …. it’s as rare as a supercar.

With the imminent launch of the new Peugeot 408 which is a direct competitor to the Jetta considering they’re both continental C segments with huge cabin space, uses forced induction engine and sporting equal safety features such as 6 airbags and ESP (the 408 Turbo variant, that is), the Pug will definitely affect the Jetta’s sales volume. Until we know for certain what is the 408′s selling price(s), we can assume that the Jetta remains to be the most expensive C segment

And like anything expensive, whether the buyer likes it or not, he/she is conveying the message that I’m rich and I can afford this. Bashers buzz off.

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31 Comments

  1. Anonymous /

    Kenso, great review. On the dashboard material, it is using soft material.

    By the way, the service price is based on which branch?

    DC

  2. Hey, thanks for the heads-up on the dashboard material. Made the necessary corrections.

    The service price is based on the branch in Old Klang Road

  3. Anonymous /

    Another thing to note, it seems most of the jetta owner have issue with the NVH especially on the wind and tyre noise.

    In ur article, u mention NVH is very good. What was the benchmark? Personally, i find it good compare to my lauya car :-)

    Maybe the owners have high expectation.

    Interior space is definately jetta trump card, it serve my family very well. Only the price. ……Sigh

    DC

    • DC,

      When I say NVH, I compare against many other 2.0 C segment cars. Among Asian made cars, the Jetta is much better …. heck, it’s definitely a lot more silent in the cabin compared to my Octy (but that’s an old car). Against the 408, I can’t really say …. need a decibel meter to truly check but overall, both are comparable.

  4. Hey kenso, tx for covering jetta as i requested earlier. Nice review! hehe. I didnt know the side panel is still using hard plastic. I mean car for this price should at least be soft material. Anyway, hoping the ckd can price it at below 140k other wise the new boring 2.0E camry will still win over this c segment. Of cz, if comparing 2.5 camry over passat. sure passat win la! hehe
    Indomee.

  5. Anonymous /

    I have enjoyed reading your website lately. Love the reviews that you have done and you have put in well thought out critiques. In no time, if you continue pursue excellent work, this website will one of the best referenced web site for cars sold here.

    Keep up the good work!

    By the way, can you do a write up on VW Cross Touran? Thanks.

  6. The VW Cross Touran is a very interesting car … a very functional family car. Will keep that in mind as the next review. Thanks for the suggestion, mate

  7. WaiHon /

    Just test drive 408Turbo yesterday .
    i think i will still wait for Jetta CKD .
    a big gap between 408Turbo and Jetta .

    • At this point of time, no one knows when the Jetta CKD will launched but if they can reduce the price to around RM130-ish, it’s a more realistic competitor to the 408T. As things stand now, the Pug is a more viable option, I feel

    • I’am also..test drove the Pug 408 1.6 turbo at COTY2012 recently..cannot beat VW Jetta..especially the brake safety features such ABS, EBD, EBA..the German did better than France..now I know why this German so pricey..memang berbaloi..with pre-owmed price lagi berbaloi..got discount up to RM18K for demo unit.

  8. Ezamx /

    If tonight they reduce the price to 130k, tomorrow i`ll put the deposit … eager to own JETTA.

  9. coward /

    Test driven 408T, power is ok, car is fast, but still not a small gap compare to Jetta.

  10. coward /

    but the price of jetta is way too high… rm130k+ will definitely pull in many potentially customers… any news of CKD jetta ?

  11. Centromt /

    Great stuff mate. I’ve been on the lookout for a C-segment car and came across your site. I think the Jetta is a great car for its class. The drive is just a class above. The SA I spoke to says no indication of a CKD as yet. Sales for Jetta are quite low and VW might not think it’s worth CKD-ing it…I guess it’s kinda a chicken/egg situation…

    I’ve test drove the 408 as well and overall think it’s a better buy given the price point…the handling/acceleration is not as good but breaking/NVH and styling is better.

    • Hi mate,

      Thanks for the compliment. I concur with your views concerning the Catch 22 situation of the Jetta. I actually booked the car before launch but was disappointed with the pricing and subsequently cancelled my booking. It’s a great car …. but not with the asking price, IMHO.

      The 408 will definitely eat into the Jetta’s relatively small pie. Hopefully we can probably look forward to more offers like the unheard-of-new-car-launch promo of the Polo sedan? *fingers crossed*

  12. Yoyo /

    Its kinda sad to see so little Jetta’s on the road..to me its a nice family (ample room at the back, nice safety features etc)+performance car (1.4Tsi 0-100 in 8.3sec!)..if only the price was cheaper..around RM130k would be ok huhu..OR if they want to charge RM150k at least have leather seats, golf style odometers, interlagos rims etc.

  13. waihon71 /

    due to low sales for Jetta , some of the branch offer pre own car at RM140K .
    but limited units and colour .

  14. ric1234 /

    May I know it is a pre own or pre-reg or 2011 model that was on offer? and which branch?

  15. bystander /

    Hi Kenso,

    I also tested the same demo car at Veemer OKR. I brought the other half to test drive it as well, but it has been sold :(
    Just curious, did you experience wind noise, road noise and other kinds of undesirable noise? Maybe I am sensitive, but I did find the NVH to be slightly lacking, especially when speed past 110kph on the short highway stretch from Taman Desa towards Midvalley before turning into Old Klang Road. The SA did acknowledge the noise and rattles, saying that it was due to the doors not being aligned very well, and this would need to be rectified, so imagine my surprise that this very same car is now sold, heh. Any thoughts?

    On the CKD issue, let me just add my own opinions to the rumour mill. The current NAP 2 policy states that new brands who want to start CKD operations are only allowed to do so for cars with 1800cc and above, as well as above a certain price which I can’t really recall now – this should be why the Passat CKD is available now, but not the Jetta. If the Jetta can be priced below RM140k, it would then result in a better price positioning vs the Passat, and sales should follow. Again, this is just purely my conjecture.

    For your Golf, were you okay with the “Sienna” fabric? Don’t you find it abit coarse? I would definitely opt to have leather wrap for all the fabric areas whether it’s the Jetta or the Golf TSI :)

    • Well, I guess different people have different tolerances when it comes to sound. It also largely depends on what car you were driving and what you are comparing against. I know a friend who drives a Jetta and complained that the NVH is not that good …. coming from me who drives a 6 year old Skoda, the Jetta sounded as quiet as a library. It’s all relative, bro.

      As for my Golf, yeah, I’m ok with the fabric. I’m a bit apprehensive about installing leather for fear of warranty issues since it does come with side airbags.

  16. Samantha /

    Hi Kenso,

    Likes your review, very informative and compact.

    Urgently need advise on Polo Sedan vs Polo Jetta vs 2012 Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI. What should i buy my 1st Polo?

    Thanks

    Regards,
    Sam

    • Hi Sam,

      Nice of you to drop in …. before I answer your question, may I know what do you mean by Polo Jetta? Is it a Polo Sport (the hatchback) or Jetta?

  17. Ken. Jetta versus Optima K5. What’s your take? Both are competitively priced now. >”< such a tough choice

    • Hmmm, that’s indeed a tough one. If it’s gadgets and the perception of a proper D segment car, it’ll be the K5. If it’s performance, ride & handling and branding, go for the Jetta. At least, that`s what i think

      • Well.. that’s what makes the decision so tough. Other than that, FC is quite different for K5 and Jetta as well.

    • bystander /

      I just booked a Jetta. One of the reasons was because I valued safety over anything else and having seen the totaled VWs in the repair yards, I’m quite convinced about their safety. I did check out the K5 during my surveying, and maybe I am just a boring guy, but I suppose the novelty factor of gadgets will wear off after a while. No doubt it’s quite value for money in terms of specs… the choice is in the hands of the buyer and how he/she prioritizes what’s important to him/her…

      • I don’t think safety can be a deal breaker in terms of this comparison. In fact, At US and EU NACP, K5 scores 5 stars, Jetta scores 4 stars for overall safety. So I think K5 is a better choice if one put safety in front of everything else

        • bystander /

          I didn’t say the K5 isn’t safe :) I just got a good impression of VW safety from all the crashes I’ve seen, hence I just went along with the Jetta (as well as other reasons). For the K5, I had a brief experience with it in Seoul before it was launched here and just didn’t really like it, especially the interior. My subjective observations are really personal, so in the end, every potential customer should choose what suits their tastes and wallet best.

        • bystander /

          For Euro NCAP, it’s 5 stars overall http://www.euroncap.com/results/vw/jetta/2011/445.aspx
          but either way, i do think both are good cars :) go with your heart’s desire!

  18. Thanks for the informative review….already trade in my civic with jetta…got 18k discount some more…

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