Teenage girls, take note: an all-new Volkswagen Jetta is here. Actually, it was here a couple of years ago, but this blog wasn’t. Not that it matters, because there aren’t any teenage girls reading this. Actually, no one is reading this except my mother, who occasionally sends hate mail.
Anyway, the new Jetta is here, and – as a highly qualified automotive blogger who has seen a few of them on the road, or at Avis lots – I’ve decided I’m more than capable on providing a full and honest review.
When I was younger, Jettas were really cool. Well, no, come to think of it, they were mostly Brazillian-built crap. But that changed with the fourth-generation Jetta (or, in 1337 speek, the MkIV) which came out in 1999. That one actually was cool, and, as I recall, it was the “it” car for girls in their teens, girls in their early 20s, girls in their late 20s, and men who were confused. The same was true of the next model, which came out in 2005 and inexplicably used a five-cylinder engine.
But the coolness is gone from the latest Jetta. From just about any angle, it looks like an amorphous blob styled by people who were apparently tasked with averaging out the lines on every other sedan sold in the last decade. Normally, this is where I’d provide some platitude about one single aspect that looks particularly nice, but there are none – a fact I’m sure of after visiting my local Hertz, where the Jetta has been the featured car of the week for the last sixteen months. Worse, the latest Jetta has lost its appeal to young, attractive women who seem to always be in workout clothes. Last week, for example, I saw a man driving one, and he didn’t even look confused.
Based on photos I’ve seen on eBay, there are many positive aspects about the Jetta’s interior. For example, if you work at a plastics company, it provides job security. If you own a supplier that specializes in boring, clearly-labeled gray buttons, you’re probably reading this from Hawaii. And if you’re an automotive industry consultant who trades in inoffensive blandness, you’ve probably been promoted after the heroic job you did making sure not a single iota of interesting found its way into the Jetta’s interior. But what the hell do I know? I’ve never even sat in the car.
It’s often difficult to write this portion of the Car Review Without Actually Driving It, since – as the title vaguely implies – I’ve never actually driven this car. But for the Jetta, it’s easier than you might think. The car is bland on the outside, and it’s bland on the inside. My money says it’s not exactly going to be a hoot to drive.
That viewpoint is cemented by the fact that the base engine in the Jetta is a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder. That’s the very same engine that was the base engine in the 1994 Jetta, which I may have earlier called “Brazillian-built crap.” And while nobody probably actually gets this version, the fact that they offer it at all demonstrates Volkswagen’s deep commitment to removing the driver from the driving experience. Plus, do you really think stepping up to the 150 horsepower five-cylinder is going to transform it into an excitement machine?
I highly recommend the Jetta to most people. Yes, it’s bland; yes, it’s boring; yes, it might lose a drag race to a forklift. But it’s reasonably priced, it seems roomy in photos, and it’s probably not that different from most of its competitors. Except blander.
So the Jetta is a good car for most people. However, if you have stumbled over the darkest corners of the Internet and found this blog, you’re probably not one of those people. So stay the hell away and buy a used WRX instead.