2013 Volkswagen Jetta Review

By on November 30, 2012
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A simple package for those who want fuel economy with German engineering.

Good: Smart looking design; Great interior finish; Excellent fuel economy.
Bad: Weak engine; Higher trims cost as much as bigger and more powerful cars.
Price: AED 74,000 (Base)/ AED 94,000 (Full options)
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.


The VW Jetta has a been a favorite drive for people who’ve not only been budget conscious but also performance enthusiasts, thanks to the GLI models carrying over the Golf GTI’s 200HP engine. With the latest six-generation Jetta VW continues the trend of providing a compact-car for the masses that’s easy on the wallet, or purse as it were.

For the time being the UAE Jetta gets the 2.0-liter (non-turbo) engine only, however, those specs are left for the later part of this review. Let’s see how the new Jetta looks like from the outside. Continuing with their corporate design, the new Jetta actually looks like a baby Passat.

While a good design on its own merits, the Jetta feels like it loses its identity when compared to the entire VW lineup. I have to say though, the new Jetta is a very smart looking car. It doesn’t concern itself with trying to look beautiful by using fanciful panels or over-done curves. It’s a straight cut, no-nonsense car engineered to keep you safe and help you save on your fuel bills. The extra amenities inside are just icing on this modest cake.


On the inside the new Jetta is similar to what you’d find in the Golf or, realistically, most VW cars in the market nowadays. Everything is fitted nicely, as you would expect from VW. For the Jetta the styling seems minimal, but with just enough flavor to keep things interesting.

For the most part, felt material is used on the dashboard and on the doors. The black trim in our test unit was particularly good looking. The full options model (SEL) in the Jetta comes with leatherette seats and the RCD 510 entertainment system. This system comes with a 6.5-inch screen that has a low resolution, but still remains easy on the eyes. Bluetooth connectivity is hassle free, while the 8-speaker system is actually pretty impressive. No rear camera, though you do get front and rear parking sensors.

Rear seats have their own a/c vents, with a decent enough legroom; standard in this class of cars. There is a fair bit of road noise at highway speeds, but again, usual for compact cars.

The Drive

The new Jetta only comes with the 2.0-liter engine for now, on all trims. Making 115HP and 169Nm is frankly not that impressive, especially considering that the new Corolla and Civic make more power from a 1.8-liter engine.

The general performance of the new Jetta isn’t exactly sluggish, but in no way is it responsive. The Sports mode on the 6-speed gearbox is a joke, because you’ll get the same level of grunt and general performance in the normal Drive mode as well; only in Sports you’re burning more fuel.

I must say the exhaust note is actually pretty nice, sort of like a tuner, so whenever pushing the Jetta it doesn’t whine like you would think. And honestly, if you’re pushing the Jetta in a proper way, you won’t feel underpowered when accelerating, although overtaking on highways certainly leaves a bad taste.

However, what really matters in this segment is not how much power you’re squeezing out of the engine, but how efficiently it works on the fuel, and this department the Jetta delivers in spades. On a full tank I was getting a readout of 640km on the trip computer, and after driving it for 6 days from home to work with mixed city driving (and a lot of flooring it), the fuel tank was still showing 55% left with 310km of drivable distance left!

So while the new VW Jetta may look slightly boring, it’s got the right looks for the most part. The interior is nicely furnished and well equipped. I will say that the 17-inch wheels on the full options, along with leather seats and full entertainment system add a lot to the experience, but for AED 20,000 more than the base price, I’m not so sure. Lastly there’s the engine, which feels weak, but more than makes up for in fuel economy.

So I guess if you want something apart from a Corolla or Civic, the base level Jetta is a great car. Jumping up to the second option at AED 85.5K you can buy a Camry instead. And for the full option version we got for test, at AED 94K, you may as well but the Passat instead.


From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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