VW Jetta Business Edition Plus (+): better than the best
The C-segment sedan category is very much a dying breed. In fact, this segment struggles to sell in the thousands per month.
In contrast, a Toyota Vios sells thrice as many units a month than this entire segment combined over the same period. How’s that for perspective?
Some cars have dared to inject life back into this segment, and the Honda Civic is perhaps the strongest stalwart here, thanks to its roomy interior, excellent powertrain in 1.5 RS Turbo guise, plus excellent high-speed cruising abilities and driving dynamics.
But what if you wanted something more? Something with a tad more panache and street cred? And crucially, something both faster and more fuel efficient?
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the Volkswagen Jetta, here in Business Edition Plus (+) guise.
Let’s start with the basic architecture. The 6th generation Jetta shares its basic chassis with the PQ35 platform, found on the older 6th generation Golf.
The latest 7th generation Jetta won’t be hitting our shores anytime soon as it was recently unveiled at the 2018 North American International Autoshow in Detroit last January. But fear not, as the current local Jetta is a real gem.
Despite sharing the Golf’s underpinnings, it rides on a longer wheelbase, shares no external sheet metal parts, and though the major electronics and powertrain parts are very much German, 70 percent of the rest of the Jetta’s components were designed, engineered and made in Mexico under close supervision of VW Germany.
The powertrain is sheer genius: a 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine that outputs 150 horsepower and 340 Newton meters of torque.
The engine is turbine-smooth, accelerates hard on almost any gear to make the tires scrabble for traction, and shifts seamlessly smooth, thanks to the 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox from Volkswagen.
Just how efficient is it? Imagine breaking 10 km/liter with traffic in the city, and well over 20 km/liter on the highway.
The worrisome part is that it seems to be even more efficient the faster you go….
Inside, the BE+ variant is clad in supple leather with a sliding and tilting glass roof to let in more light and more ambiance.
Interior space is good, at par with the Honda Civic: the fronts are particularly roomy, so intercontinental drives from, say, the UK all the way to Russia, or traversing the Americas in a Jetta is doable.
Spending four hours behind the wheel on Edsa traffic is no problem, too, thanks to the dual zone climate control that chills the cabin (and yourself) out.
At the rear, space is good for two XXL-sized adults, though three adults at the back for long drives is still a pinch.
The touch-screen infotainment system has Apple Carplay and Android Auto plus MirrorLink—sounds surprisingly analog, with soft, textured music, none of the highly processed and digitized sound we often get from Japanese makes.
The Fender-branded hi-fi surround system no doubt delivers as promised.
As a bonus, the LCD touchscreen also doubles as a reverse parking camera, making the Jetta easier to handle.
Rounding out the safety features are LED headlamps, cornering lamps that illuminate an extra lamp towards the direction you’re turning, traction/stability control, ABS-BA brakes plus six airbags as standard.
Isofix mounts are also available at the rear for carrying baby carriers and child seats.
The front suspension is a Macpherson strut design, while the rear is a multi-link setup that gives the Jetta amazing ride comfort and handling on the limit.
So how does the Jetta drive? In a word: sublime. The Jetta is perhaps the absolute perfect everyday no-frills car.
Fast, efficient, roomy and tough as nails, it feels very solid. Close the doors and it thuds like a bank vault’s door.
Scroll the interwebs, and you’ll find a ton of advertisements of big, heavy grown men hanging off the doors of a variety of Volkswagen vehicles. Gives you an idea of how solid, how rigid, and how well designed the cabin is, and how safe you will be.
The Jetta is also very stoic: inside and out, there are no fancy frills and gimmicks to distract you from any inherent weaknesses.
It might not be the most vocal, most charismatic in its segment, but it sure feels like it is the most over-engineered.
As mentioned earlier, on the highway, the Jetta seems to be more efficient the faster it goes. It just wants to lap up all the miles as quickly and as rapidly as possible.
On winding roads, it corners flat, without drama, transferring its weight around its four corners intuitively and confidently.
The brakes are powerful but require a bit of adjustment as they are slightly over-assisted.
The throttle is very progressive, but there’s a bit of an extra urge from the get-go, no doubt the DSG gearbox doing its thing at times to balance a smooth yet rapid getaway.
The steering has that firm and weighted accuracy you can only expect from a properly engineered German (albeit made in Mexico) car, and the overall package just feels spot-on.
Solid German engineering. Amazing powertrain. Solid chassis. Superbly fuel-efficient. Excellent driving dynamics. What more could you ask for in a car?
How about the absolute best-value-for-money proposition? The Jetta starts at P1.1 million for the base Comfort Line variant, all the way to P1.3 million for the top-spec Business Edition Plus (+) model.
Unfortunately, the Business Edition Plus (+) just sold out, but the lower-end variants are just as excellently priced, spec for spec, and crucially, retain the amazing powertrain and safety features.
In the market for a C-segment sedan? This is truly it!
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