This new Jetta has caught a lot of flack from journalists, including our own Jamie Kitman and Jason Cammisa. I can't say that I disagree very much: the Jetta went from being a solid, fun-to-drive choice for savvy enthusiasts to a solid alternative to a Chevrolet Cruze. In other words, the Jetta is now mediocre at best. In what ways? Let’s see: the steering is overboosted and offers little feel; handling is acceptable but uninspiring (thanks in part to the downgraded rear axle); and interior materials feel inferior to those in Volkswagen's own entry-level Golf (which happens to be a class leader in that department), let alone the previous-generation Jetta.
The Jetta's base engine is now an old, normally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder, but I was actually pretty pleased with the performance of the 2.5-liter five-cylinder in our test car. It sounds tough and meaty, and it was paired with a fine-feeling, five-speed manual (where be the six-speed, though?). Exterior styling is anodyne but is starting to grow on me, although I agree that the car’s cabin is fairly grim.In conclusion, the GLI edition can't come soon enough.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor