An old tuning partner returns to give the Jetta a retro-inspired look

Volkswagen is bringing three Jetta sedans at the 2018 SEMA Auto Show. The flashiest of the three is the Air Design USA Jetta SEL, which takes its cues from all the accessories that Air Design offered for the sedan that was the rage back in the 1980s and 90s. The program is a perfect call back to those times, especially with the arrival of the A7 generation of the Jetta. The Volkswagen Air Design USA Jetta SEL takes its place at the SEMA Auto Show alongside H&R Special Springs Jetta R-Line and the decked out Jetta S by Jamie Orr.

What makes the Volkswagen Jetta SEL Air Design USA special

2018 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Air Design USA Exterior
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For those old enough to remember, Air Design USA’s first styling kits were developed for the Mark 2 and Mark 3 versions of the Jetta. Since then, it’s been a staple tuner for all things Jetta. It’s only fitting, then, that when VW launched the seventh-generation Jetta earlier this year — it’s called the A7 — Air Design is one of the first tuners to get a crack at building a program for the compact sedan.

Not one to disappoint, Air Design dug deep into its bag of tricks to build a body kit for the new A7 Jetta that includes a rear lip spoiler that enhances the sedan’s profile.

The tuner also installed a set of 19-inch TSW Hockenheim S wheels and wrapped those babies up in Falken Azenis FK510 tires. The wheels themselves are a nod to the 90s-era DTM-inspired Hockenheim wheel. Visually, the Jetta gets dressed in a tri-color red, orange, and yellow graphic that extends from the front intakes and stretches to the sloping roofline at the back.

2018 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Air Design USA Interior
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The interior of the Jetta is also awash in upgrades. The seats, in particular, are dressed in two-tone custom Cognac and Black leather. The steering wheel and door cards received the same two-color treatment, once again emphasizing the program’s retro theme. A number of other functional bits are also featured in the cabin, including a full suite of Volkswagen’s own Comfort & Protection Accessories. There are carpet floor mats from MojoMAts, trunk liner from MuddyBuddy, and rear bumper protection from Bumperdillo. Air Design USA also threw in pop-in sunshades for good measure.

The tuned Jetta doesn’t get any upgrades on the engine.

Since the tuner used an SEL trim for its project, the Air Design Jetta is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The output figures remain the same, but Air Design enhanced its ride quality with a lowered stance courtesy of Eibach’s Progressive Rate lowering springs. GLI Red-painted front performance brake calipers round out Air Design’s program for the Jetta A7.

2018 Volkswagen Jetta SEL Air Design USA Exterior
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The finished product isn’t ostentatious in the SEMA sense of the word. You can still make out the profile of the new-generation Jetta with all of Air Design USA’s upgrades installed into the sedan.

But this kit isn’t about giving the Jetta a new and more aggressive look. It’s about showcasing the sedan’s aftermarket potential.

That’s an important distinction to remember, especially since we’re dealing with a brand new model here.

For those who owned or are familiar with Air Design’s works on the second- and third-generation models of the Jetta, this new kit from the tuner is a nice callback to the good ‘ol days.

Further Reading

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta R-Line by H&R Special Springs Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta R-Line by H&R Special Springs.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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Volkswagen of America, Inc. is pleased to announce that the Volkswagen Jetta has been chosen by three top automotive builders and customizers as a platform to showcase parts, equipment and build potential at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show® in Las Vegas, between October 30 and November 2. The sedan’s large, more dynamic proportions have made it an appealing car to highlight both cosmetic and performance-based parts and accessories to attendees.

“Straight from the factory, the seventh-generation Jetta’s bold new design grabs people’s attention,” says Robert Gal, Senior Manager, Performance & Accessories, Volkswagen Sales & Marketing. “The fact that this group of top tuners and customizers chose it as a canvas for their offerings and creativity is further testament to its appeal."

The following Jetta builds will be on display from October 30th to November 2nd at various locations in and around the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Air Design USA Jetta SEL

Inspired by Jetta/Golf accessories from the 1980s and 90s, Air Design USA’s Jetta SEL build pays homage to the aftermarket’s embrace of the second-generation sedan and hatch. Nineteen-inch TSW Hockenheim S wheels, shod with Falken Azenis FK510 tires, are a modern redesign of the 90s-era DTM-inspired Hockenheim wheel. An Air Design USA body kit with rear lip spoiler is complimented by vintage look tri-color graphics that echo onto a roof-mounted bicycle, attached with Volkswagen Accessories roof bars and upright bicycle rack.

A lowered stance is achieved with EIBACH® Progressive Rate Lowering Springs and draws attention to front performance brake calipers, painted in GLI red. Inside, two-tone custom cognac and black colored seating surfaces with matching door cards and steering wheel complete the retro look. The car also sports a full suite of Volkswagen Comfort & Protection Accessories including MoJoMats® carpet floor mats, MuddyBuddy™ Trunk Liner, Bumperdillo® rear bumper protection, and pop-in sunshades.

“Air Design’s first styling kits were developed for the Jetta Mark 2 and Jetta Mark 3 and have been part of the Volkswagen Euro-tuning cult, with a legion of dedicated fans throughout the world,” states Mariana Lopez, PR and Social Media Manager for Air Design. “When the Jetta A7 arrived this year, we knew we had to make sure we developed a sporty styling package to be available for our customers.”

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