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New Volkswagen Jetta details emerge

So long: Volkswagen’s redesigned Jetta sedan has an extended wheelbase for extra interior space, enabling it to compete better with mid-sized rivals.

Three Jetta variants approved for Oz as new models set VW up for another record year

11 Jul 2011

VOLKSWAGEN’S volume-boosting new model assault is far from over, with the new Golf Cabrio, facelifted Tiguan crossover, Golf GTI Edition 35 anniversary special and redesigned Jetta sedan all set to arrive in Australia by the end of this year.

Providing clues as to what Australian buyers can expect to see in coming months, the enlarged Jetta, which Volkswagen has distanced from its Golf sibling and claims to be “more comfortable, sustainable and dynamic” than its predecessor, has completed Australian Design Rule (ADR) certification.

The sedan has been approved with three variants including 2.0-litre 103kW diesel and 1.4-litre 118kW petrol engines familiar to Golf buyers.

A third engine, a 2.0-litre 147kW turbo-petrol from the previous-generation Golf GTI will serve as the flagship but the base 77kW 1.6-litre diesel and eco-friendly BlueMotion variants are apparently omitted.

The 173kW Golf GTI Edition 35 has also completed ADR certification in three- and five-door body styles.

Volkswagen Group Australia has sold almost 15,000 Jettas since the beginning of 2006, an average of 222 per month, and managing director Anke Koeckler told GoAuto in April that the new Jetta would form a sales pillar alongside the top-selling Golf and Tiguan.

3 center imageThe Mexican-built Jetta is similarly priced model-for-model with the Golf hatch in the UK market, but VGA may elect to pitch it slightly upmarket Down Under, explaining the lack of a base model. The outgoing model was priced similarly to the Golf wagon.

Being 7cm shorter than the mid-sized Toyota Camry and 14cm longer than Holden’s Cruze small-segment sedan, the Jetta – which VW promises will offer plenty of space and comfort – will bridge the gap between Golf and Passat at the small end of the medium-car market, enabling VGA to compete on price with volume sellers like the aforementioned Camry.

Australian Volkswagen sales are up 6.2 per cent for the first half 2011, setting the scene for another sales high-water point after last year smashing its 1964 record of 31,419 sales by almost 6600 units.

The local new-vehicle market is down 6.6 per cent year-to-date, enabling the Wolfsburg-based brand to grow its market share from 3.6 per cent 12 months ago to 4.1 per cent and climb past Honda and Subaru in the Australian sales charts to eighth.

The brand achieved a similar market share percentage growth for the 2010 calendar year, from 3.2 to 3.7 per cent, with sales rising 26.4 per cent.

Asked if VW had Mitsubishi in its sights after overtaking Honda and Subaru, Ms Koeckler told GoAuto that, although the brand’s global aim is to become number one vehicle manufacturer, chart positioning in Australia was not the emphasis.

“We have taken some of everybody’s customers,” she said. “Honda was not a surprise they have been going backwards for a long time now. Subaru also, because they have such a small range.”

VGA general manager for press and PR Karl Gehling told GoAuto that, while the brand is reluctant to make sales projections available to the media, he could confirm the company will “sell a lot more than we did last year”.

“We will not be going backwards, that is for certain,” he said. “With all the models we have launched and are launching – which will total 13 this year – and the quality of those products, we are very confident.

“Next year we have even more coming, like the new Beetle, which will keep the momentum going.”

VW’s local growth spurt, part of its global drive to become the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer by 2018, has not been without pain, leading to reports from customers and dealers of stock shortages, waiting lists and long delivery times.

“It is not just Australia affected by this, it is global,” Ms Koeckler told GoAuto. “If we make one less car than we can sell we are happy that is a good place to be.”

Mr Gehling said that, with VW’s global production at 100 per cent, increasing capacity is not as simple as adding another shift because of the investment and careful planning required.

He agreed that the more significant stock shortages and disruption experienced by Japanese brands resulting from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami had helped accelerate VW’s rise up the charts.

Of the ten top-selling brands in Australia, VW is among the five that have grown market share over the past 12 months, along with Mazda, Hyundai, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

As GoAuto has reported, Volkswagen plans to add 20-25 new dealers to its Australian network, mostly positioned to better represent the brand in rural areas.

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