This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
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*Please remember too, that prices quoted were those ruling on the days I wrote the reports.
This is a launch report. In other words, it's simply a new model announcement. The driving experience was limited to a short drive over a prepared course chosen to make the product look good. We can therefore not tell you what it will be like to live with over an extended period, how economical it is, or how reliable it will be. A very brief first impression is all we can give you until such time as we get an actual test unit for trial. Thank you for your patience.
“Please don’t call it a ‘Golf with a boot’ because that’s no longer true,” said Hein Schafer, Product Marketing Manager at VWSA. “It’s aimed at a different audience, has different competitors and there isn’t a common body panel anywhere.” This new Jetta is built on the same modular AQ35 platform used by Golf 6 and 18 other VW Group products, but that’s where the similarity ends. It comes to life at Puebla in Mexico, with additional assembly plants at Aurangabad in India and Jakarta, Indonesia. We get our European-specification jalapeño versions directly from Mexico.
Seven models using five engines are available right now. A 90-kW 1400 turbo with DSG transmission, expected by the end of this year, will make it eight. Engines include a turbocharged 1200 developing 77 kW, turbocharged 1400s developing 90- and 118 kW and a pair of diesels. The 1600 TDI puts out 77 kW and is presently the only one offering a choice between five-speed manual and seven-ratio automatic (DSG) gearboxes. Its big brother 2.0 litre TDI develops 103 kW and uses only a six-speed manual, like all the others in the lineup. Trim levels range from Trendline on lower powered variants to Highline on the top models.
Now in its sixth generation, Jetta has sold some 10 million examples since it was introduced in 1980. Compared with version 5, it is 90 mm longer at 4 644mm and the wheelbase has grown 73 mm to 2 651 mm. What this gives you is a further 67 mm of rear legroom. Every panel, inside and out, is new. Five adults and a good load of luggage, 510 litres-worth, can be accommodated comfortably. Standard safety features include six airbags, ABS, ESP with braking assistance and electronic differential lock, trailer stabilisation and traction control. Hill holding, to make it easier to juggle brake pedal, accelerator and clutch is included, as is ISOFix child seat preparation on the outer rear seats.
Convenience items included on all models include ‘Climatic’ manual air conditioning, an RCD-310 radio and CD unit with eight speakers, electric windows all around, height adjustment on both front seats, electrically operated and warmed outside mirrors and alloy wheels. Moving upscale to Comfortline level one can expect cruise control, tyre pressure monitor, front fog lights, more comfortable seats, additional trim items and different wheels. At Highline level you get sports seats with lumbar adjustments, lowered sports suspension, headlamp washers and 17” alloy wheels with a full-sized alloy spare. Other levels make do with steel spare wheels.
Options available on most models include leather upholstery, parking distance control, Bluetooth phone preparation, satnav, a more advanced RCD 510 radio/CD player, a removable and lockable towing hitch, Xenon headlights and a 230-volt socket. Finally, one can specify a dual-zone Climatronic air conditioner that cleverly defaults to ‘recirc’ whenever you reverse or use the screen washers – you don’t really want to inhale your own exhaust fumes or sniff the delicate aroma of washer fluid do you? Didn’t think so.
Target market? Difficult question, because you just can’t tell, can you? Entry-level cars are also sold to older folk buying their last new ones before final retirement, for example. Putting his head on a block, Schafer guessed that typical buyers would be between 30 and 49, mostly male and family oriented, but not yet ready to be dull and suburban. Choosing a Jetta would not be a purely sensible decision. In other words he or she would look beyond “reliable, trustworthy, economical, comfortable, big enough and with excellent backup” to “what’s in it for me?” The tagline is “liberate the driver in you” - have a little fun with your rational choice for a change.
The orientation drives confirmed this. New Jetta is spacious, comfortable, well built and practical. But over a mix of freeway, traffic, mountain passes and country roads the examples we tried drove like Golfs. Targetted owners might possess more formal clothes and be the ones making 21st birthday- and wedding speeches rather than listening to them, but they’re still kids at heart.
Prices range from R222 000 (1.2 TSI Trendline) to R297 200 (2.0 HDI Highline)
1.2 TSI – 1197 cc turbopetrol – 77 kW at 5000/175 Nm at 1500 – 4000
1.4 TSI – 1390 cc turbopetrol – 90 kW at 5000/200 Nm at 1500 - 4000
1.4 TSI – 1390 cc twincharged – 118 kW at 5800/240 Nm at 1500 – 4500
1.6 HDI – 1598 cc turbodiesel – 77 kW at 4400/250 Nm at 1500 – 2500
2.0 HDI – 1968 cc turbodiesel – 103 kW at 4200/320 Nm at 1750 – 2500
Zero to 100 km/h: 8,3 seconds (1.4 twincharged) to 11,7 seconds (1.6 diesel)
Maximum speeds: 190 km/h to 221 km/h
Fuel economy: 4,5 l/100 (1.6 HDI manual) to 6,3 l/100 (1.4 twincharged)
CO2 ratings: 119 gm/km to 145 gm/km (same cars)
Tank: 55 litres
Warranty: 3 years/120 000 km
Maintenance plan: 5 years/90 000 km at 15 000 km intervals
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
My articles appear every Wednesday in the motoring pages of The Witness, South Africa's oldest continuously running newspaper, and occasionally on Saturdays in Weekend Witness as well. I drive eight to ten vehicles most months of the year (press cars are withdrawn over the festive season - wonder why?) so not everything gets published in the paper. Those that are, get a tagline but the rest is virgin, unpublished and unedited by the political-correctness police. Hope you like what you see, because there are no commercial interests at work here. As quite a few readers have found, I answer every serious enquiry from my home email address, with my phone numbers attached, so I do actually exist.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
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