Jump to content
Drew Dowdell

Interactive Review: 2011 Volkswagen Jetta SE

Recommended Posts

Interactive Review:

2011 Volkswagen Jetta SE

post-51-0-99656300-1305684404.jpg

Due to incredibly crappy weather here in Toronto - Stock Jetta Photo Shown

I'm in Toronto this week for training. Work policy dictates that if I need to drive more than 200 miles, I am to rent a car instead of using my own. The nice lady at the rental counter gave me my choice of 2011 Chevrolet Impala, 2011 Ford Fusion, or 2011 Volkswagen Jetta. I thought "Hey, the Jetta would make a good car for an interactive review since it's been debated so much already". I got all of 5 miles before I regretted not going with the comfort of the Impala..... so just remember the sacrifices I go through for you lot. You better ask LOTS of questions to make this worth it.

Clearly not a good start eh? (only been in Canada about 8 hours now). For one, road noise in the Jetta on concrete highways is loud.... it's turn-your-stereo-up loud. Seat comfort on the other hand is excellent. The leatherette VeeDub is putting into this Jetta will fool a good number of people into thinking it's leather. The dash looks soft touch, but it's not. The interior is a sea of gray and punch outs where switches would be if it were a better equipped version. I've counted no less than 8 punch outs for non-existent buttons.

The Interior is VERY roomy. I'll look up specs later, but being the largest of the compact class surely has some advantage. I'm thinking that this new Jetta is larger than some mid-size cars from years ago.

What has already been said in other threads about the 2.5 liter 5-cylinder is entirely true. I question it's very existence. It is the only non-turbo engine I have ever driven that feels like it has turbo lag. The lag is so distinct I'm going to actually try to get a video of it. It provides neither the power of a V6 nor the fuel economy of a 4-cylinder. The transmission is very shift happy and it needs to be to get any power. All sport mode does is stop the transmission from lugging the engine constantly. In typical driving, the engine note is smooth and pleasant. Under full throttle it's loud.

The Jetta is EPA rated at 31mpg highway and my first fill up calculated out to be a smidge over 26mpg. However, I don't know that the tank was truly full , so we'll see more fuel economy postings later. Fuel economy numbers also could be down because I am the very first customer in this car. It had 14 miles on it when I picked it up. Knowing the area, it had to have rolled from the dealer to the gas station to the rental lot into my hot little hands.

Handling is unremarkable so far, not that the weather has allowed for any pushing of the car.

So have at it C&Gers, what do you want to know about this 2011 Volkswagen Jetta?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do the looks put you to sleep more than any other car?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before anyone says anything about my wish for the Impala over the Jetta... it's purely in the "I have to sit in this thing for 6 hours going in a straight line how can I stay comfortable" sort of way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you embarrassed to be seen in it? Is it even more of a chick car than ever?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ignoring the obvious differences to the previous Jetta, how would you compare it to other compact cars, such as the Cruze? (Not for me, but probably informative for others)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You obviously have not detected the special feel in a Volkswagen. Relinquish the key immediately.

Seriously though, how do the doors and trunk lid sound when you close them? How does it feel while driving, structure-wise?

Having owned a couple of five-cylinder vehicles, I know they have an unusual sound. Does the engine song turn you off or endear you?

Concrete roads are the worst for noise, no matter the car you're driving. Rolling a tire on a concrete road is like running your fingers along corduroy pants... you're going to play a tune.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you embarrassed to be seen in it? Is it even more of a chick car than ever?

I don't think the new one is a chick car at all. I'm not embarrassed to be seen in it because most people won't even notice it's there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ignoring the obvious differences to the previous Jetta, how would you compare it to other compact cars, such as the Cruze? (Not for me, but probably informative for others)

It's roomier than the Cruze by a lot. The trunk is massive for a mid-size much less a compact. In 2.5 form, it doesn't feel *that* much faster than a Cruze turbo (which I had two weeks ago as a rental).

Interior wise, the Cruze uses nicer materials, but the Jetta is put together better.... though in the case of this car, that isn't really hard when most of the buttons are blanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You obviously have not detected the special feel in a Volkswagen. Relinquish the key immediately.

Seriously though, how do the doors and trunk lid sound when you close them? How does it feel while driving, structure-wise?

Having owned a couple of five-cylinder vehicles, I know they have an unusual sound. Does the engine song turn you off or endear you?

Concrete roads are the worst for noise, no matter the car you're driving. Rolling a tire on a concrete road is like running your fingers along corduroy pants... you're going to play a tune.

It is solid. Very solid car in that regard. Much more so than the Elantra or Kia or even above a Ford Fusion.

The engine turns me off by doing nothing well except make noise. I get that a 5-cylinder is supposed to be a compromise between a V6 and a 4-cylinder, but the 312 HP Camaro gets 30 mpg now. So why is this 170hp unit only rated at 31? It doesn't seem to have much torque low in the power band because the transmission is always wanting to kick down. I did the speed limit the whole trip.

I get that concrete roads are loud, but some cars handle them better than others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's another thing about the Jetta.... it uses cables to operate the HVAC airflow control..... what other car still does that?

I'm going to ask my friends in Germany their opinions about the Jetta's image. I remember them saying something about "old men in hats"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to ask my friends in Germany their opinions about the Jetta's image. I remember them saying something about "old men in hats"

I'm not sure that would really amount to much. The Jetta sees most of its success here in the U.S. It's always been an outcast in Europe, selling much like the Golf does here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you've driven it, how would you compare the driving dynamics to the previous Jetta?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to ask my friends in Germany their opinions about the Jetta's image. I remember them saying something about "old men in hats"

I'm not sure that would really amount to much. The Jetta sees most of its success here in the U.S. It's always been an outcast in Europe, selling much like the Golf does here.

Yeah, no one really drives compact sedans in Europe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How was Fit and Finish? So far VW has not been a good quality fit and finish compared to many other vendors out there.

So while the auto might have a tin sound in regards to opening and closing doors, does it seem to be well built or just too cheap of content to really put it in a solid build category?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting..didn't realize you could take a rental car to Canada. Seems like a long distance to drive on a work trip (I've always flown on business trips).

Anyway, how are the cupholders? NVH? Outward visibility?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting..didn't realize you could take a rental car to Canada. Seems like a long distance to drive on a work trip (I've always flown on business trips).

Anyway, how are the cupholders? NVH? Outward visibility?

Why couldn't you take a rental car to Canada?

The flights from Pittsburgh to Toronto are super expensive if you go direct and only a little less expensive if you connect in Newark or Philly. If you take a connecting flight, total travel time downtown to downtown is greater than just driving it.

When I priced flights for this trip I was coming up with rates of $650 round trip and travel times of 8 hours. I rented the Jetta for 6 days for $240 plus tax and drove it in 6 hours (took my time).

The cup holders are good and sturdy, and can handle a big gulp. They have 4 spring loaded arms that come out and hold your cup in place.

NVH is ok. The engine is smooth enough but gets loud if you rev it to pass. There is a lot of tire noise. Outward visibility is excellent, I'd rate it much higher than any of GM's current offerings.

My main comparison is the Cruze 2LT since I had one two weeks ago as a rental. Cruze is much quieter and the interior is more warm and welcoming. Jetta has more power, feels more solid, and is much roomier.

The Jetta platform feels like it is a mid-size car in the compact class; but in this trim, it is held back by its engine, spartan interior, and some cheap materials in noticeable places.

The 2.5 is the biggest issue with the car. Changing that one thing would likely change my opinion of the car. If I'm going to drive something spartan like this, it should at least get better gas mileage, right?

How was Fit and Finish? So far VW has not been a good quality fit and finish compared to many other vendors out there.

So while the auto might have a tin sound in regards to opening and closing doors, does it seem to be well built or just too cheap of content to really put it in a solid build category?

I'm going to go over the car in more detail later this week, but the fit seems excellent and the platform feels very solid... not tinny.

However, they used cheap plastic materials in a lot of places they shouldn't have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting..didn't realize you could take a rental car to Canada. Seems like a long distance to drive on a work trip (I've always flown on business trips).

Anyway, how are the cupholders? NVH? Outward visibility?

Why couldn't you take a rental car to Canada?

Legal reasons like insurance, etc. I've noticed on rental agreements before clauses about not taking out of the country.

My main comparison is the Cruze 2LT since I had one two weeks ago as a rental. Cruze is much quieter and the interior is more warm and welcoming. Jetta has more power, feels more solid, and is much roomier.

The Jetta platform feels like it is a mid-size car in the compact class; but in this trim, it is held back by its engine, spartan interior, and some cheap materials in noticeable places.

I haven't noticed in reviews/comparison tests, but I assume the Jetta is dimensionally bigger inside (rear leg room, etc) than other compacts like the Cruze and Focus, or at least it *looks* bigger on the outside..surprising they are still using the 2.5, guess it's a cost issue in trying to keep the prices down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Jetta is really approaching small-mid-size class if not by EPA standards at least by everyone else's. It feels about equally roomy as a Fusion. I'm not in a position to look it up right now, anyone know the official EPA classification?

I'm surprised they are still using the 2.5 AND the 16 valve 2.slow in the really base version, but at least that engine returns decent economy numbers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 2.slow in this new car is 4 valves/cylinder? That's an update, IIRC the older version was an 8-valver, 2 per cylinder if my mathematics are correct.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Legal reasons like insurance, etc. I've noticed on rental agreements before clauses about not taking out of the country.

Usually Mexico is the issue, I have heard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have actually driven one... Here's the verdict:-

  • Exterior looks -- looks less defined and less solid than the previous generation. Nice chrome grille gives way to black plastic slots.
  • Interior Finish -- Significantly WORSE than the rather posh previous two generations. Looks cheaper without the flush shut vents and rubberized thumb wheels. Lots more hard plastics, dubious chrome trim that's plastic and looks plastic. One piece dash molding looks like Rubbermaid is the subcontractor.
  • Ergonomics -- Generally an improvement over the previous A5 Jetta/Golf. White on black is sharp and well defined over the booey blue lighting. Buttons are easy to reach, but are no longer exquisitely damped in their detent action.
  • Powertrain -- 2.5L I-5 engine revs slowly but is relatively smooth. 5000 rpm redline is a tad low though and the 170hp feels like 130~140.
  • NVH -- Pretty good, better than the kinda roary Civic, but not as good as previous two generations. More road noise and wind noise.
  • Handling -- Nicely Planted but a tad too much under steer up to 7/10ths. Didn't push beyond that because colleague is in the car.

Generally, the new Jetta looks and feels like it went downmarket with this revision. But, wait, that is exactly what it did. The new Jetta starts at $16.5K. That's about 2K less than the previous based model despite less favorable exchange rates. Heck, that is less than the Cruze. And... well... it shows! BTW, I haven't driven the BASE modek with the 115hp 2.0L SOHC-8v I4 in the A6 Jetta, but if memories of the A3 (1992 model) which has the same engine serves me correctly, that engine might actually rev a tad higher and be a tad quieter. The good old 115hp iron block 8v is actually quite smooth.

Volkswagen tried the posh compact route and now it is trying the me-too at a low price route.

Edited by dwightlooi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Interior Finish -- Significantly WORSE than the rather posh previous two generations. Looks cheaper without the flush shut vents and rubberized thumb wheels. Lots more hard plastics, dubious chrome trim that's plastic and looks plastic. One piece dash molding looks like Rubbermaid is the subcontractor.

I'm glad I have backup on that one. I was expecting a fight there. I pretty much agree with the rest of your assessment so far. The interior design isn't as refined, but it is put together well for what it is. I just want to make that distinction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Who's Online   1 Member, 0 Anonymous, 99 Guests (See full list)



About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We ♥ Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets

facebook

×
×
  • Create New...