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Sharper pricing for edgier Jetta

Proven formula: The Jetta is the most popular European vehicle in North America, with annual sales of about 110,000.

VW’s Golf sedan will add value to its armour, but the new model is still a year away

8 Nov 2010

SHARPER pricing to match crisper styling will spearhead Volkswagen Australia’s renewed attack on the compact sedan segment with the next-generation Jetta.

Due in about a year’s time, the sixth-generation three-box sedan version of the Golf small car is expected to expand its repertoire in both directions, to include an entry-level model (matching the recent move with the Golf hatch), as well as a high-performance sports model.

The new base model could see prices plunge below the $25,000 barrier for the Jetta 90TSI powered by a 90kW 1.4-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine – and lower still if the 77TSI 1.2L DI turbo makes it.

3 center imageAt the other end of the scale could be a rumoured 2.0-litre all-wheel drive version wearing the ‘R’ nomenclature.

Volkswagen’s increased engine choices will be the direct result of increased production capacity in Mexico – which is the global source for all Jettas (the existing originated there in 2005 but switched to South Africa from 2008 until the latest Polo light car sent it back earlier this year).

Earlier this month, the company announced details of the European-specification Jetta that Australia will receive from about September 2011.

This includes the continuation of the current model’s Golf-sourced multi-link independent rear suspension system, which was dropped in North American-market 2011 Jettas for a simpler and cheaper torsion beam set-up similar to the one used in the Mk4 Golf and New Beetle.

This was deemed necessary to make the Jetta in the Americas more cost-effective against the popular Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra and Chevrolet Cruze.

Like the US car, the ‘Euro’ Jetta gains about 67mm in rear legroom thanks to a longer wheelbase than its predecessor, as well as overall length (4640mm versus 4550mm).

European Jettas will come with 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre TSI petrol turbos, the 147kW 2.0-litre DI turbo petrol unit found in the old Golf GTI, and the 77TDI 1.6-litre and 103TDI 2.0-litre direct injection turbo-diesels available in the existing version.

Transmissions include six-speed manual and six- and seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox depending on the engine (77TSI excepted), while BMT BlueMotion Technologies – devices such as idle-stop and higher gearing aimed at cutting fuel consumption and emissions – are to be offered on the 77TSI and 77TDI.

Volkswagen says the 77TDI BMT returns as little as 4.2 litres per 100km – 1.1L/100km less than the petrol equivalent.

Meanwhile, talk of the so-called Jetta R has emerged following a report in UK weekly Autocar that a group of journalists saw a 3.6-litre V6 petrol-powered prototype with 4MOTION all-wheel drive at the newcomer’s European launch last week (ahead of sales early next year).

“If there are customers asking for it, we will do it,” said Volkswagen board member and product planning head Ulrich Hackenberg.

“It wouldn’t be a problem for us. The Jetta’s platform can take four-wheel drive.” On the safety front, all models are expected to include six airbags (with an optional eight), front seat head restraints with anti-whiplash design, daytime-running lights, belt-fastening detection, automatic hazard flasher lights that activate with hard braking, Hill Climb Assist, ABS with brake assist and stability control.

Jetta sales have boomed upwards of 25 per cent to 2120 units this year, driven by improved affordability when the all-turbo upgrade came along during 2009, as well as some sharp finance deals.

At 4.1 per cent of the sub-$60,000 medium segment, it trails the Toyota Camry, Mazda6, Subaru Liberty, Honda Accord Euro and Ford Mondeo by significant amounts and is outsold marginally by big brother Passat.

But the Jetta is a big deal in North America, being far and away the most popular European vehicle with sales of about 110,000 annually.

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