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2011 VW Jetta: Power in Numbers

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Der neue Volkswagen Jetta

What do we know about the Jetta? We know that Jetta was a 2009 “Top Safety Pick” from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). We know that it’s named after the Atlantic Jet Stream during a period when Volkswagen (VW) dubbed nameplates after strong winds. This naming convention has paid off being that we know the Jetta is a volume leader representing half of VW’s U.S. sales. We also know that 9.6 million units have been sold since its introduction in 1979. With a cheaper, bigger, and better-equipped sixth generation model hitting dealers this fall, expect VW’s numbers for the Jetta to increase.

When business is good and products are moving what is the best strategy for staying on top and ahead of the curve? Sit back, lay workers off and decrease spending? Wrong! Smart companies continue to invest in their beloved products and reward the players who have helped them achieve such goals. This keeps employee morale high while outsmarting the competition. Well, VW is investing 4 billion dollars into their future by way of a new production facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee and building new dealerships like the 35,000 square-foot showroom in San Francisco, California. The VW Group’s aggressive strategy to triple U.S. sales to 800,000 by 2018 is evidence that the German powerhouse (parent company of Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Bentley, Skoda, Seat and Scania) is on a mission to become number one! Sales are up an amazing 30% this year. The all-new 2011 Jetta will absolutely help achieve VW’s financial prophecy. “Today marks the beginning of a new era for Volkswagen and for Jetta,” said Stefan Jacoby, CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “The all-new 2011 Jetta is a class-up driving experience with the kind of styling, design and power under the hood normally found in more expensive luxury cars. This car is sophisticated, fun to drive and practical.”

Traditionally, the Jetta has always been priced higher than its core competition (Honda Civic, MAZDA3, Toyota Corolla) and has always been sized a bit larger. So of course VW needed to position the Jetta at better price points. A 2011 model is now less than a comparable 2010 model. The new Jetta sedan starts off at a value price of $15,995 (excludes destination), offers five models (S, SE, SEL, TDI and GLI) with four power-trains, includes standard ESP and 6 airbags and is the second VW vehicle that will offer hybrid drive (due in 2012). We were able to experience the top-of-the-line Jetta SEL in San Francisco during its global debut. Updated styling, modernized multi-media technologies, added safety, and additional performance is how the front-wheel drive, 4-door Jetta should be defined. For starters, its wheelbase (104.4 inches) and overall length (182.2 inches) has increased, adding 2.6 more inches of second row seating space. Split fold seating gives the vehicle more flexibility. ESP is very important because it’s safety technology that helps reduce crash risk by helping drivers maintain vehicle control during untimely maneuvers. If an incident occurs where the airbags deploy then the Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS) intervenes. It turns on the hazard lights, unlocks the doors and cuts off the fuel pump. Very smart VW.

On California roads meant for Porsche 911s, the family-fun Jetta did all right. It’s a solid platform that offers adequate power. We focused on the 2.5-liter 5-cylinder with 170-horspower and 177 pound-feet of torque. There is also the base and all-new 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 115-horsepower and 125 pound-feet of torque. The 2.0-liter TDI, also all-new, offers 140-horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque allowing the Jetta to achieve 42 highway mpg. American consumers still don’t get the advantages of clean diesel technology.  Chances are they would choose a hybrid first. There’s not enough education on the power and mileage advantages of clean diesels. Next year, a juicy 2-liter turbo TSI 4-cylinder with 200-horsepower will arrive in the GLI model. A 5-speed manual is the standard transmission while a 6-speed automatic is optional. The advanced 6-speed DSG will be offered on the 2.0-liter TDI and 2.0-liter TSI. DSG is a dual clutch transmission that intelligently shifts faster than the traditional one clutch manual transmission.

The Jetta’s interior is cleaner, sharper and livelier than the previous model. One touch up and down windows are standard while the infotainment system provides 5-inch touchscreen navigation with iPod connection, SD slot, Bluetooth, etc. VW uses very animated and gaming like graphics for the navigation while I found the iPod integration slow as it takes a minute to load up your music and it’s a bit quirky.

Jetta will continue to raise the bar for VW, yet VW needs to continue to raise the bar in the industry. The new Chevy Cruze has made a powerful statement with its introduction and expect more assaults from the compact sedan market. I think all auto companies are starting to realize there is power in numbers!

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