While hybrids have garnered all the headlines and hype, diesel engines have maintained their traditional position, toiling away in anonymity while providing similar fuel economy to their shiny new hybrid brethren.

The current VW Jetta GLS 2.0L is marketed as a ’premium compact car’, but for the base Jetta at least, this premium status is difficult to justify. Its $24,750 base price is thousands higher than most of its compact rivals, yet its standard 115 horsepower 2.0 litre four cylinder engine is relatively underpowered, its 4-speed automatic transmission is no longer state of the art, and perhaps worst of all, there just isn’t a lot of rear legroom in the current Jetta.

A new Jetta that’s roomier, more powerful, quieter and more upscale for the about the same price would make more sense in the premium compact category - and that’s exactly what the 2006 Jetta 2.5L is. Priced $225 more than the 2005 Jetta GLS 2.0L, the 2006 Jetta 2.5L features a new inline five cylinder engine with 150 horsepower, a new independent rear suspension, new electro-mechanical variable-assist steering, a much stronger body structure, six standard airbags, and a roomier interior with more legroom. With the optional 6-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic manual mode, the price rises to $26,375.

The 2006 Jetta is longer by 177 mm (7.0 in.), wider by 25 mm (1.0 in.) and has a wheelbase that is 66 mm (2.5 in.) longer. Significantly, rear passengers have 48 mm (1.9 in.) more legroom, however headroom is tight for those over six feet tall. Cabin space is up 4.6% to 91 cubic feet, and trunk space is up 23% to 16 cubic feet. Volkswagen gleefully points out that the new Jetta has more cabin space than an Acura TSX and more trunk space than Accord and Camry.

In June, Volkswagen will introduce a 2006 Jetta TDI with a carryover 1.9 litre turbodiesel four cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual ($26,650) or 6-speed DSG transmission ($28,050). Diesel Jettas are very popular in Canada: a whopping 47% of all Jettas sold are diesels
The 2006 Jetta’s new standard 2.5 litre five cylinder engine is mounted transversely in front driving the front wheels, and features dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing. Peak horsepower is reached at a relatively low 5000 rpm, and peak torque of 170 foot-pounds is reached at 3750. With 39% more torque than the previous engine, this engine was developed specifically with North American driving styles in mind.

Fuel consumption is rated at 10.8 L/100 km (26 m.p.g.) city; and 7.2 L/100 km (39 m.p.g.) highway with the standard 5-speed manual transmission, slightly more thirsty than the current 4 cylinder engine. The new 5 cylinder engine takes Regular Unleaded gas.

With the five cylinder engine, Volkswagen reports a 0 to 60 mph time of 9.1 seconds, but the real benefit of this engine is its smooth, quiet operation. It’s almost as smooth as a V6, but not quite. Of course, it’s much quieter and more pleasant than the current 2.0 litre four cylinder engine.

More information at www.vw.com/jetta

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  (6023) posted on 01.20.2006


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