Powerful turbo engines, fuel-efficient TDI power plant, fun to drive, comfortable ride, rich interior materials, loads of standard safety features, excellent crash test scores, solid build quality. Cons
Tight rear-seat legroom and weak base four-cylinder on old model, somewhat bland styling on new Jetta.
Acceleration is linear and smooth, if not terribly exciting. At full throttle the transmission shifts at 5,600 rpm, and redline is marked at 5,800 rpm. The wheels spin off the line with the traction control disengaged, and the five-cylinder pulls hard off the line with a second surge of power coming in around 3,800 rpm.
Under hard braking, the pedal is progressive with solid feel and minimal ABS noise or vibration. We noted some pedal sink and rear end lift during hard braking, but neither was problematic enough to cause concern. Distances were short and brake fade was minimal.
The Jetta benefits from excellent steering feel and a tight ratio. Body roll reared its ugly head as speeds increased through the slalom, but was not excessive for what is still a relatively inexpensive car. The tires give plenty of warning before sliding out, and the car is easy to place as a result. More power would have helped, especially as we tried to exit the last set of cones at speed.