Overview: Volkswagen turns up the wick in making the Jetta more competitive in the compact-sedan class and is now an all-turbocharged lineup; hot GLI gets a fresh front, rear and cabin styling; Jetta SportWagen is actually a Golf.
Drivetrain: The Reagan-era four-cylinder for base Jetta sedans is replaced by a new 1.4-liter turbo with 150 horsepower; 170-horsepower turbo four-cylinder standard for other trims; 140-horsepower turbo-diesel and 210-horsepower turbo-four are optional; Hybrid’s gas-electric combo nets 170 horsepower.
Volkswagen is building on its reputation as not only a master of turbocharged engines but also the sheer variety of its small Jetta sedan. After almost 30 years with minor changes along the way, the old 2.0-liter four-cylinder is finally retired. In its place is a new 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Both of those figures not only pound the old 115-horse motor into the history books, but the torque number ties that of the new-last-year 1.8-liter turbo. The 1.4 is also seriously efficient, with the manual-transmission version being able to hit a claimed 40 mpg on the highway. Even the six-speed automatic does 39. More spice comes with the available 170-horsepower turbo-four-cylinder and 210-horsepower turbo-four in the GLI. The 2.0-liter 150-horsepower turbo-diesel that’s rated at 31 mpg in the city and an impressive 46 mpg on the highway will carry over, but the outcome of the company’s emission scandal wasn’t known by press time. It’s a good chance some of the power/torque/fuel economy figures will change. As an alternative to the diesel, the Jetta Hybrid that’s uniquely teamed with a seven-speed automated manual gearbox (DSG). The Hybrid can run for up to 1.2 miles on electric power alone at speeds up to 44 mph, reach 60 mph from rest in less than nine seconds and achieve a claimed 42 mpg in the city and 48 mpg in highway driving. However at $32,500 fully loaded, you’ll have to judge for yourself if the payoff is worth the initial cash outlay. All models get VW’s MIB II infotainment system with USB connectivity and charging. The Jetta’s option list now includes increasingly popular safety items such as a blind spot monitor, cross-traffic alert when backing up, forward collision warning and parallel-parking assistance. Also for 2016 is the new-look GLI, which takes more cues from the Golf GTI hatchback.