Don’t overlook the Jetta

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The Jetta is the oft-overlooked member of the Volkswagen family. In fact, a number of my colleagues expressed surprise it was still a current model.

It’s a shame, because it may be undemanding on the eye without any particularly striking features, but it’s smart, comfortable and, in the BlueMotion model we had on test, is remarkably economical.

The combined figure of 67.3mpg is outstanding, with the 1.6 litre diesel engine and its 102bhp proving surprisingly nimble for such a large car.

Acceleration from 0–62mph takes just 11.7 seconds, with a potential top speed of 118mph. You need to be prepared to work the gears to get the best out it, though, but the gearbox is so smooth that’s never a hardship.

Though big, on paper the Jetta is actually quite a bit smaller than a Passat, although at first glance that’s difficult to spot. It is, however, much larger than a Golf and this, the sixth generation model, on sale in the UK since May 2010, looks nothing like it. That, though, is no wonder as, for the first time, they share no body parts.

Every internal and external panel is new, with nothing carried over from the previous model. It’s very sleek and elegant with a long wheelbase that ensures five adults can seat themselves very comfortably. The 510 litre boot is a bit smaller than the previous model but not so you’d notice

BlueMotion technology is certainly the way forward with most major manufacturers developing their own versions. In VW’s case this translates as wheels with low rolling resistance tyres, multi-function computer to recommend gear changes for optimum economy and an automatic Stop Start system with no delay in restarting the engine once the clutch is depressed. The interior, as is the VW norm, is of the highest quality and is a little more imaginatively designed than usual, with an all-new dashboard with aluminium highlights and a leather-trimmed three-spoke steering wheel. An option fitted to our test car was the touch-screen navigation and radio system. At just under £2,000 this is top-end kit and notches up the £19,960 OTR price.

As usual, a comprehensive array of safety features is added, including six airbags, anti lock brakes and an Electronic Stabilisation Programme.

Volkswagen only expect to sell around 3,000 Jettas this year in the UK, 55 per cent of these to fleet customers. This, though, is twice as many as they sold in 2010.

It remains to be seen if this new model captures the motoring public’s imagination. But those who take the plunge will find themselves with a splendid, stylish, mid-sized saloon that won’t break the bank.