Volkswagen today took the wraps off its latest salvo in the compact sedan market, the new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta. Based on the MQB platform that also has produced the Golf, Tiguan, and Atlas, the newest Jetta promises more interior room via a longer wheelbase and increases in overall length, width, and height â€” with a starting price $100 less than the outgoing model.
The Jetta has long been the most important weapon in Volkswagenâ€™s arsenal â€” after all, one out of every three Volkswagens sold in the United States is this compact sedan â€” but sales have been steadily dropping, from a 2011 high of 177,360 to 115,807 last year. Certainly, some of that reflects the loss of the incredibly popular TDI models, but the de-contented nature of the outgoing sixth-generation Jetta has surely turned off prospective buyers who can find better equipped vehicles, often with better driving manners, elsewhere.
Compared to the prior model, the styling is evolutionary but distinctive, with a strong horizontal line extending back from the front wheel wells, defining the profile view. Volkswagen takes pains to call the rear roofline â€œcoupe-like,â€� and indeed the rear glass does have a good bit of rake to it. Still, itâ€™s not as extreme as the new Civic or even Volkswagenâ€™s own outgoing CC. Rear headroom, which was quite good in the outgoing Jetta, should not be negatively affected.
For some reason, Volkswagen also saw fit in its official photos to offer the exact picture with and without funky lens flare:
The short trunklid tapers to a abrupt cutoff that, from some angles, looks to create a bit of a ducktail spoiler effect. Itâ€™s a handsome feature that lends a touch of sportiness to an otherwise mainstream sedan. The hood features a series of fore-to-aft lines creating the illusion of power bulges, and the new wider grille features plenty of chrome to liven up the face. Standard LED headlamps ape the irregular hexagon of the big grille.
The redesigned interior looks to be more upscale, with Volkswagenâ€™s lovely Digital Cockpit now available on higher trims to replace the standard gauges. Heated and ventilated leather seats are available, as is a 10-color ambient lighting feature â€” I look forward to the VW hackers at Ross-TechÂ unlocking a pulsing disco-themed light pattern.
The Jetta boasts a wheelbase of 105.7 inches, up 1.3 from last yearâ€™s car, and has shorter overhangs front and rear. Mechanically, the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is carried over (147 horsepower, 184 lb-ft torque), mated to a new six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. All automatic-equipped cars will feature start-stop technology for the sake of fuel economy.
Optional safety aids include autonomous emergency braking with forward collision warning, blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta hits showrooms in the second quarter of 2018, with pricing starting at $18,545.