My wife was in need of a car, and we had 7 days to car shop. She insisted on a manual transmission. We looked at the Accord Sport (excellent car, a bit to big for her taste), Mazda 3 with the base engine (anemic/cheap) and a Subaru WRX (amazing). We already have a BRZ, so we decided the extra expense of the WRX was unnecessary. There were only two 1.8TSI 5 speed cars in Houston at the time, and the first one I test drove was already purchased when I came back a second time to buy. The second test drive sold me on the car. The engine has a beefy flat torque curve, and it's probably underrated. It can produce "neck snapping" torque that can move the car to where you want it. The car does not come with a TC off button. Surprisingly, with aggressive driving in low speed sharp turns, the traction control allows for an appropriate amount of wheel spin to get you around quickly, and the corrections don't slow you down too much. Its rare that you find 15" wheels on a new car, and I greatly appreciate them. They do well on rough roads, and overall comfort. The 15" wheels also fit more than adequate brakes. Up there with the brilliant engine is a phenomenal suspension. There is very little slop in the suspension, and it is tuned well. It's extremely comfortable and can handle rough terrain like a champ. Another thing it does well is maintain stability through high speed corners. It hunkers down and there is a good amount of grip, and it can be driven smoothly at a nice pace. Compared to Japanese/Korean luxury cars I have recently driven, I prefer the Jetta's suspension, and for that matter, the over all comfort. The cabin is vault like. The only thing lacking in this base model is the front seats. I find there is not enough lumbar support, and sometimes when I'm moving about, the construction of the seats feels cheap. On the positive side, the fabric is durable and the heaters work well. The clutch on this car is pretty light, and I'm not sure if its a VW thing, but it feels weak. It doesn't grab as well as the sports cars I have driven. It has hill start assist which is helpful, but on a big hill, I find myself using twice as much clutch as I need to use in my BRZ. The gear shift has a vague feeling to it, but once you hit gear, there is a bit of a satisfying engagement. I have probably shifted into 3rd instead of 1st about 5 times over the past two years, and stalled, easy to do with the "light" clutch. The overall value is questionable. I think the trade in value is around $12,000, and I paid $18,000 OTD interest free. Still, at that price, I don't think the power, and overall quality feel of this car can be matched. Not considering the new Civic, which was not available at the time of purchase. But with max torque across the board, this sleeper is a blast to drive, and you can surprise some big bad wolves for a 1/2 a second. This is a sub 7 second 0-60 vehicle. I'm hoping to keep this for 100,000 miles or more, but I will probably tire of the manual transmission in traffic. We have achieved 43 mpg on a tank of gas on the highways traveling 75 mph+ (wife was driving). In town I believe it gets somewhere above 30 mpg. With just me city driving on a tank, I returned 27 mpg, but I stay in the boost. It's addicting.
I recently bought a 2015 Jetta S 2.0 5 speed manual. My previous cars have been 2002 Z-28 M6, 04 GTO M6, and 06 GTOM6. I am used to performance, but I was looking for an economical car. After reading the reviews, I was expecting a slow as molasses car. I was surprised. This 4 cylinder is sprity. It revs effortless through the gears. This engine lives over 2000 RPM and it does have some acceleration power 2000-3000 RPM. I havent done any ful throttle runs though. Below 2000 RPM, the engine has no power. But run this engine as it should with RPM, and it is peppy. I have actually found myself very much enjoying driving this car and running through the gears.
Very fun car to drive it does not do so well on mileage when you have the A/C on and get on it but still has good power even with the air on. Handles terrific for the size of the car and very comfortable inside.
The interior room of the Jetta is pushing the size of a mid-size car, especially the rear seats. I'm 6'4" and my 5'11 son can sit behind me comfortably without nagging me to move the seat up. The car handles confidently at high speeds; I can tell this was built for the Autobahn. It seems to be more sure-footed the faster you go. The acceleration of the 1.8 turbo is exceptional. Granted, a good-sized V6 would be able to pull away, but I've gotten out of some tight spots because my car had the yank to put me ahead of cars and trucks whose drivers were probably playing Bubble Witch on their phones. To be honest, I am a bit concerned about the long-term reliability though. Compared to a Honda or Toyota, I have a feeling it might be more costly in the long run. Time will tell. Some people seem to have really good experiences; others, not so much. For now, it seems to be very solid. No rattles or squeaks. It's more fun to drive than a Corolla or a Civic, and it's much roomier, so I'm happy for now. I'm going to take the advice of other VW owners--stay on top of maintenance. German cars don't seem to handle neglect well.
Overall I love this car. The new 1.8t is very quick and provides outstanding fuel economy. The ride and handling are considerably better than the Kia I traded it in for it. Where it comes up short are the cheap looking and horribly uncomfortable car seats that come standard on the 15 SE. I found a gel pad that pretty much takes care of the problem. I guess it was cost saving reasons that caused VW to go away from the nicer leatherette seats that previously came on the car but it's a real turn off.