Rowing through the gears of an 2015 Volkswagen Jetta S TDI’s six-speed manual transmission since we roll over the scenic two-laners of Virginia’s horse country, we marvel in the fact that we’re actually having fun. Yep, fun. In the Jetta.
Never would we've predicted this back when Volkswagen first introduced the existing Jetta for the 2011 model year. As it boasted improved space, son-of-Audi styling, along with a more competitive price, the Jetta was soundly criticized to its utter dearth of character, relentlessly cheap-feeling cabin, gruff five-cylinder base engine, and chassis which had regressed into the Dark Ages with rear drum brakes and a torsion-beam rear suspension.
After that, VW has created incremental and substantial improvements to its North American bread-butterer, and with 2014, all U.S.-market Jettas featured four-wheel disc brakes with an independent rear suspension. Furthermore 2014, another EA888 1.8-liter turbocharged base four-cylinder engine forced the cantankerous 2.5-liter five-cylinder into retirement. Go into the 2015 Jetta, featuring its midcycle update that provides new front and back styling, upgraded interior materials (including-at last-a soft-touch dash top), plus a new EA288 diesel engine in TDI models. Alas, it appears that the Jetta has now become the car Volkswagen must have been building forever.
Generally, the most important aspects of the vehicle’s midcycle refresh are revised lighting and fascia factors, but in the 2015 Jetta’s case, these are arguably the least interesting of its updates. A fresh grille emphasizes the car’s wider, along with the new rear bumper, while new headlamps give extensively accessible LED daytime running lights plus the taillamps evoke its Audi-brand cousins. And for the first time, even the least expensive Jetta rides on aluminum tires. How much the adjustments increase the Jetta’s looks depends on the observer, however arguably it is now actually tougher to tell the gap regarding the Jetta and the one-size-up Passat.
The interior, once among the Jetta’s worst features, has become a convincingly nice place to hang out for 2015. It’s still Teutonically austere along with the door panels are hard plastic, however the dashboard looks far classier, covered as it is with tunneled gauges and reflective piano-black trim sections. High-end material including navigation has trickled down from higher trims to low- and mid-grade levels, and interestingly, an available touch-screen infotainment system without navigation is actually larger than that from the navigation-equipped cars. And the seats in the S, SE, and SEL models we drove were firm and supportive.