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Old 1st July 2012, 16:42   #1
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Default Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review

The Volkswagen Jetta 1.4L TSI (Petrol) has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 13.60 - 15.07 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• Classic, timeless and understated styling, mated with solid build quality
• 1.4L TSI Petrol has excellent urban driveability. Superior even to the 2.0L Diesel
• Improved space; rear seat can easily accommodate taller occupants
• Balanced ride and handling. Extremely well-tuned suspension
• Safety kit (ESP, 6 airbags etc.) and 5 star NCAP rating

What you won’t:

• Small engine makes only 121 BHP. Outright performance isn't in the competition's league
• Engine noise is on the higher side, especially for a petrol car from this segment
• The Laura with its 1.8L TSI gem is cheaper (with almost identical equipment levels)
• No Highline variant offered, and no automatic transmission either
• Interior quality is a grade or two lower than the previous generation Jetta

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger high-res version in a new window.

Last edited by Rehaan : 3rd July 2012 at 13:13.
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Old 1st July 2012, 16:43   #2
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Default The Full Review

This report will only focus on the petrol TSI variant, since the VW Jetta 2.0L Diesel has already been reviewed by Team-BHP. Changes vis-a-vis the diesel will also be covered. For easy reference, here are direct links to the complete VW Jetta review:

Exterior Design & Build Quality

Interior design, space, practicality & features

The 2.0 TDI Diesel Engine

Other Pertinent Points

The Smaller & Significant Things

Last edited by Rehaan : 1st July 2012 at 16:50.
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Old 1st July 2012, 16:43   #3
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Default Specs, Pricing & Competitors

The petrol Jetta has a 1.4 Litre, 4 cylinder TSI engine under the hood. Definitely smaller than what we are used to in a big car. Well, the T in TSI stands for Turbocharged, which runs along with the Stratified direct Injection, helping it put out a reasonable amount of power for such a small block, and (claimed) higher efficiency too. That’s 121 BHP @ 5,000 RPM with max torque of 200 Nm @ 1,500 - 4,000 RPM. The engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. However, there’s no automatic transmission available on the petrol, and no Highline (top) variant either!

A lot of people were expecting the 1.8 TSI to appear in the Jetta, simply because VW’s sister brand Skoda offers that engine in the Laura (a direct Jetta competitor). Now, Euro petrols aren’t really known for their high sales figures in India; petrol prices are ever rising, Indians are fuel-efficiency obsessed and add to that – the Jetta isn’t offered with the 1.8 TSI in any market worldwide. We get the 1.4 TSI as a result.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review-specifications-jetta-tsi.png

The psychological aspect of it being a small 1.4 liter engine, regardless of the acceptable power output, is bound to be some sort of deterrent to prospective buyers. “A 1.4 petrol? Isn’t that what the Indica has as well?”. All its competitors have 1.8 liters of displacement, a full 400cc more. With this in mind, you’d imagine the Jetta to be a tad underpowered. Well, in typical driving situations, you won’t find the engine lacking or struggling in any way - due to its wide torque curve. Sure, it doesn’t have the performance to put an instant smile on your face, but its not a laggard either. You won’t ever hear an average driver complaining about the car feeling underpowered, its par for the course.

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review-prices-jetta-tsi.png

Pricing observations:

• Unlike the Jetta, the Laura TSI, Civic and Altis offer only 2 airbags, and don’t have ESP either. Keep that in mind when comparing prices.
• There is a Rs. 1.33 Lakh difference between the petrol & diesel Jetta, variant to variant. I’d say that current fuel prices and resale value make this difference negligible for most buyers in this segment.
• The Laura TSI from the same VAG family is the Jetta TSI’s biggest threat. Its similar in many ways...the Euro feel, solid build, equipment levels, safety – but it completely overshadows the Jetta when it comes to the engine. Its 40 additional BHP make it the performance leader in this segment, whilst the Jetta TSI is the back-marker. Don't forget, the Laura is Rs. 80,000 cheaper on average too. That's before the discounts currently available on the Laura TSI, further enhancing its value quotient.

What are the reasons for picking the Jetta TSI over the Jetta Diesel (or the Laura TSI)?

• A fear of Skoda’s reputation or a preference for the Jetta’s looks (similar to why some people pick the Vento over the Rapid).
• The customer who wants a Jetta has low running, and doesn’t want to pay more for the diesel version.
• Googly : Some ridiculous diesel tax gets imposed in the future, making Jetta buyers see the TSI as much better value than the TDI.

I really can’t think of too many more convincing reasons here.

With that out of the way, lets get on to the car….

Last edited by Rehaan : 3rd July 2012 at 13:13. Reason: Removing base Laura TSI from pricing.
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Old 1st July 2012, 16:43   #4
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Default Exterior & Interior Overview

Gorgeous rear-end that reminds everyone of the Audi A4:

Sharp front end:

The Vento's big brother:

No doubts about this being a classy looking package:

“Navarra” alloy wheels with 205/55 R16 Goodyear Eagle NCT 5 tyres. Same wheels on the Trendline variant too:

No cruise control on the manual transmission Jettas. Dummy phone control buttons don’t do anything:

6,000 RPM redline is the only easy way to tell this is the petrol you're sitting in:

The deal pedal exists, but its not going to provide full support as it only braces the left edge of your foot. The gap between the clutch pedal and the left wall (of the footwell) is pretty narrow too:

Uninspiring center console, most C-segment cars do better:

The 8-speaker (4 speakers + 4 tweeters) audio system has tight punchy bass, though the mids could use a little more. No USB input!

No climate control on any of the Jettas:

Push down + top left for reverse:

Another tiny difference between the Petrol and Diesel is the gear-knob's styling:

Here's what it looks like on the diesel:
Name:  Diesel Jetta Gearknob.jpg
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Even from as low as 60-80 km/h in 4th gear (2,500 RPM), the system will prompt you to upshift to 6th:

Nope, the spare isn't an alloy wheel:

Recommended octane is 95 RON:

Last edited by Rehaan : 1st July 2012 at 21:22.
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Old 1st July 2012, 16:43   #5
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Default Engine & Driving Experience

The Jetta TSI is identical to the TDI on the outside, except for the badging. The interior too is virtually identical, barring a different gear-knob design and a redline marked at 6,000 RPM on the instrument cluster. Steering and brake feel are exactly the same as in the diesel. Here’s another difference – the TSI’s clutch is fairly light and easy to use, unlike the diesel Jetta that has a noticeably heavier clutch, with a slightly shorter throw.

You do have to press the clutch to crank the engine. At idle, the engine has a certain audible thrum to it. I was quite surprised at being able to hear the petrol engine so distinctly at idle. What’s more, slight vibrations can be felt on the clutch pedal too. On the inside, it sounds more like a very well-refined diesel rather than a D-segment petrol car. I even had a friend casually ask if it was a diesel, while a Jetta TDI owner commented that it sounds similar to his car on the inside (his driving impression is in a post below).

The instant-ness of the throttle response on the petrol is an advantage over the diesel (especially below 2,000 RPM). Driveability in traffic is good, it beats the Civic here by a good margin. On a hill though, you can't start pulling away from low in the RPM range, the car will only really start to move post 1,400 RPM - expected of a turbocharged car. Its a very malleable engine. You can hang around in a chosen gear and you won’t have to worry about shifting up or down too often. The Jetta TSI has enough power through the range to move you around, even from as low as 1,000 RPM in typical city conditions. At 3,600 RPM, there is a small spike in power as the turbo gets into the zone, but its hardly a rush. At 5,500 RPM, it starts to run out of breath (peak power is at 5,000 RPM). 0-100 km/h is decently placed in the 10 second range.

The difference between the Jetta’s 1.4 TSI and the Laura's 1.8 TSI is, though they have the same linear style of power delivery (obviously in differing magnitudes), the 1.4 TSI doesn’t have the same silky smooth refinement throughout the RPM range. The 1.8 TSI engine feels just as refined and capable at 3,000 as it does at 5,000 RPM. The 1.4 TSI starts to show signs of it being taxed heavily as you approach 5,000 RPM. Refinement aside, the Laura 1.8 TSI blows the Jetta 1.4 TSI away when it comes to performance.

The 6-speed gearbox is smooth and fairly light, very similar to other cars from the VW family, though there is a slightly different feel between the petrol and diesel Jetta boxes. The diesel feels a little more notchy, with the gates being better defined. The petrol’s gearbox is vaguer in comparison. The gates are very close too...sometimes getting into 6th gear requires a conscious effort to pull the gear lever towards you as you move it down, else you end up slotting into 4th. It's the same when trying to downshift to 5th – you sometimes end up in 3rd. This could take a little getting used to. Gearing has 1st topping out at an indicated 53 km/h, and 2nd at 103 km/h. The 6th gear is a huge boon, making high-speed cruising a pleasure, especially since the dynamics of the Jetta mask higher speeds beautifully.

Turn the music and the AC off, and you’ll notice a definite boomyness coming from the engine bay, even when you lift off the accelerator! At low RPMs (2,000), because of the engine's gruff note, it seems like its revving a lot higher and harder than it actually is. To nitpick, you can feel a faint vibration on the gearshift as well at 3,000 RPM. The unmistakable BOV noise is quite noticeable every time you come off the accelerator, but only when the windows are down; petrol-heads will enjoy this. On the flip-side, its good to have some audible feedback when you are having fun with the car. Maybe it even makes the Jetta TSI feel faster than it is.

The 1.4 engine might not be extremely sprightly, yet it’s a pretty good engine on its own. Mated with this platform of good neutral handling, solid build, sharp brakes and smooth gearbox, the Jetta TSI is still a car you can have fun with on a twisty road. On spirited ghat sections, 2nd gear is phenomenal. Everything from 25 km/h to 103 km/h is covered. You don’t need to worry about shifting gears except for super-tight hairpins. There isn’t a huge amount of power for a car this size – but for a 1.4, its pretty entertaining.

We noticed a lot of wind noise. Even at speeds like 80 km/h, a swishing sound was evident from the A-pillar area. However, this could be due to it being a very windy pre-monsoon day, since no other Jetta owners we checked with mentioned the issue.

A bit of free space in there?

TDI badging says “2.0 TDI”, this just says "TSI"

Tailpipes are identical between the petrol and the diesel:

Loved this. Rather than all the confusing pull or slide-type latches for opening the bonnet, here you just lift. One motion, very intuitive:

Last edited by Rehaan : 3rd July 2012 at 13:14.
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Old 1st July 2012, 16:43   #6
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Default A TDI Owner's Take

Nikhil, a Jetta Diesel owner, shares his views on the 1.4 TSI:

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review-img_2246-copy-copy.jpg

Jotting down a few observations from my drive of the Jetta Petrol :

To start with, I was expecting the obvious lower decibel levels from the engine, and that's exactly what I got. On the exterior bit, leave alone the rear badging change from "2.0 TDi" to TSI" absolutely no change [when compared to the TDI Comfortline]. Once on the inside, can't tell the difference in sound levels from the petrol or diesel motors. Guess the superior door cladding and insulation play a part here. This is true even generally while driving, general road sounds are very muted in the Jetta cabin.
The exhaust muffler note at the rear sounds very similar on both models and you can tell these are siblings.

The first obvious difference was the clutch operation. The pedal was much lighter than on the diesel version. I noticed that the gear knob is also slightly different on the petrol variant from the "round & chrome necked" knob on the diesel. Personally I preferred the round on the diesel variant. The next observation was the gear operation. The gear stick on the petrol felt there was more "play" and the throw seemed slightly more as well. In comparison the gear operation on the diesel is more defined, lesser play and all 6 forward and the reverse get engaged in a "more gated" fashion almost like there were defined slots to move into.

On the performance front, the petrol motor seemed torquey on the low-end and quite peppy at lower rpms. Drivability of the petrol is quite handy below 3.5k rpm and one does not find the need to shift to lower gears driving in city traffic. But once you go beyond the 3.5k revs then the performance seems slightly lackluster compared to the diesel sibling. The power delivery is more linear on the petrol compared to the diesel version, which literally is a different animal below 2k revs and then shoots off once the turbo gets engaged. Flooring the accelerator pedal in the petrol feels more safer than on the diesel sibling, where you actually feel the need to slow down sometimes given you have gained far too much momentum than expected.

I guess the petrol motor is not bad and does the job given the turbo and the 120 horses but just that being a 1.4 liter capacity, it feels like a larger car has been bolted on with a smaller motor for higher fuel efficiency. Personally, I was driving a 1.6 liter peppy Ikon Rocam before this for 7 years and I would definitely question my "upgrade" if I was moving to the 1.4 liter petrol.

While toggling through the steering mounted MFD controls it was obvious that the petrol motor was returning much lower fuel consumption than the diesel variant.

Form and fitment on the inside cabin is otherwise identical in both versions, including the stereo, and the other toys. Even the 5 spoke alloys are identical to the ones which are available on the "comfortline" model of the diesel.

I guess the pricing of the petrol will be crucial and also tricky since this baby needs to straddle the fine line of being priced more premium than the Laura TSi but lower compared to the Jetta Diesel. But with the current situation on petrol prices and potential resale values, I guess customers will probably make the leap to the diesel compared to the petrol most times.

Overall to sum up, the Jetta is definitely a good German tourer and I personally much rather be touring in the diesel version which provides a much more solid and planted stance.

Last edited by Rehaan : 1st July 2012 at 16:54.
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Old 1st July 2012, 16:43   #7
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Default Other Points

Other Points:

• Silver lining – will we be seeing this engine in the Polo & Vento anytime soon? Their current 1.6L petrol engine isn’t anything to write home about. The 1.4 TSI would be a great upgrade for power and fuel efficiency too. Though, a little birdie says that we’ll be seeing the 1.2 TSI in the Polo instead, along with a DSG `box (early in 2013).

• There's different versions of the 1.4 TSI offered on the Jetta abroad. The best one is the twin-charger version (its supercharged AND turbocharged). It has won the "engine of the year" award in the past, but probably wasn’t brought to India due to cost and octane requirements. You’ll see this twin-charger engine in the Polo R Cup cars this year. Its got 180PS on tap – and they get the DSG box too. Not fair!

• A reason why there is no Petrol AT : “VW has cleverly stayed clear of [the problematic] DSG7 here by only offering a manual transmission. The DQ200 DSG7 is the only Automatic gearbox which this car can be equipped with.” - .anshuman. Related thread.

• With the TSI being available only in Comfortline and Trendline variants, the Vento - its sibling from a segment lower - gets the RCD310 music system with USB input, visual indicator for the reverse sensor and climate control...none of which the Jetta TSI gets. The Vento is 5-odd lakhs cheaper!

• VW is using a premium branding strategy over Skoda, despite having less features at a higher price.

• With the recent move towards environmental consciousness and higher efficiency, there are a host of new small engines lined up for the Indian market – it’s not something to be frowned upon, though us petrol-heads are going to have to keep our fingers crossed for some value-performance cars too.

• Thanks to parrys for accompanying me on this drive.

Last edited by Rehaan : 1st July 2012 at 17:40. Reason: RCD510 -> RCD310. Thanks Akshay1234.
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Old 1st July 2012, 17:18   #8
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Default Re: Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review

Excellent review Rehaan! I still don't get VW's pricing strategy. The diesels are overpriced, but its a diesel and they can get away with it. But the petrol pricing is plain ridiculous, that too for a 1.4L engine. The diesel jetta offers better performance and is more fuel efficient, and not to mention will get a better resale value than the petrol. Considering these points who would buy the Petrol Jetta? I expect not to see many of these on the roads. The CL petrol costs 19L OTR in Bangalore. Good luck VW on selling the petrol.
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Old 1st July 2012, 18:06   #9
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Originally Posted by Rehaan
Other Points

• A reason why there is no Petrol AT : “VW has cleverly stayed clear of [the problematic] DSG7 here by only offering a manual transmission. The DQ200 DSG7 is the only Automatic gearbox which this car can be equipped with.” - .anshuman. Related thread.

• .
Really doubt whether VW is deliberately staying away from the DQ 200 - it is a core gearbox used by VW in much more important markets for the company. I think cost is probably a more important driver, the DSG variant would cost more than a similarly equipped diesel manual. Would you also say that Skoda stayed away from the DQ 200 for the Laura as the Laura is a more important model than the Superb? The fact is that all these models are low volume, and increasing variants adds costs without adequate benefits. Without wanting to jinx myself as a Superb TSi At owner, only 1 out of 15 odd Superb TSi AT owners I know has had a DSG failure in about 2 years of ownership - so while we do seem to have a close 100% failure rate on Team BHP, it is not as high in the real world ( though I do agree that various other problems keep cropping up). Sorry for drifting off topic, but I do think people on this forum are getting irrationally paranoid about the 7 speed DSG.

Moving back to the Jetta 1.4 TSi, I can't think of why on earth anyone would pick it over the Laura 1.8 TSi, which does seem to offer much more for less. In fact I strongly doubted VW would launch this variant, and the only reason it makes sense is if they plan to use the same engine in the Vento and Rapid, and gain scale economies for local engine assembly in the next 12 to 18 months.

Great review, overall.
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Old 1st July 2012, 18:12   #10
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Default Re: Specs, Pricing & Competitors

Wonderful review, Rehaan! Thanks for sharing. Rating this thread a well-deserved 5 stars.

Originally Posted by Rehaan View Post
There is a Rs. 1.33 Lakh difference between the petrol & diesel Jetta, variant to variant.
That's it in a nutshell.

The diesel Jetta has more power, torque, efficiency, practicality & (almost certainly) superior resale. The Jetta is my favourite car from the D1 segment, but it has to be with that wonderful 2.0L Diesel. If I wanted a petrol, I'd either buy Japanese or then, pick the cheaper + more powerful Laura 1.8L TSI.
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Old 1st July 2012, 18:25   #11
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Default Re: Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review

Only if it had an automatic. Every image conscious/non image conscious VW group car buyer would bloody well know that skipping on items like an Automatic gearbox and even a Usb is way too high handed, kinda reminding them that this petrol jetta is pretentious.

Who is this car for? Memsahib with chauffer for their 30 Km roundabout in the city? Or somebody who knows he doesn't want a diesel but wants a big car with a VW badge.
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Old 1st July 2012, 18:40   #12
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Default Re: Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review

Production shot on location for the TSI launch media campaign.

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Old 1st July 2012, 18:47   #13
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Default Re: Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review

This family look is going too far. Call me a novice but I almost mistook it for a Vento!!!
Also isn't Linea T-Jet cheaper than this? It might not be a D segment car but it is a much better package loaded to the brim with gadgets. And with discounts going on it is much cheaper on road.
I have a sneak feeling that we will see some discounts on this one soon.
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Old 1st July 2012, 19:04   #14
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Default Re: Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review

Is it launched only to boost Jetta TDI sales? You know, a customer walks in and checks all features. Then does a test drive. Then realises that TDI is much better, or if he/she is a petrolhead, might prefer Laura. Either ways, VW is at profit!
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Old 1st July 2012, 19:06   #15
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Default Re: Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI : Official Review

Thanks for the nice review!

Refinement has been one of the fortes of the Laura TSI. The engine at times is so silent that enthusiasts can get bored. I expected even higher levels of refinement from the 1.4L TSI. To read words like "Gruff note from the engine, boominess at higher RPMs etc... " are very disappointing to say the least.

I wonder who VW is targeting with this car?
Enthusiasts are not even going to give this car a second look. All other petrol cars in the segment are more powerful. Anyone with even half decent running is going to go the diesel way with petrol prices what they are today. The only hope for this car is if the Govt. decides to slap additional taxes on Diesel cars.

THis is what you call killer pricing. Kill any prospect of sale that is . I mean how do you justify an 80K premium over the Skoda when you are giving the customer 40 horses less?

Any idea what kind of FE this car could return? The only reason someone would actually buy this car would be if it returned 50 kmpl!

PS : THe Laura TSI is offered in only the base variant (Ambition). THere is no mid variant for the petrol.
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