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Cool Jetta offers a wealth of options

August 22, 2003|by KEN CHESTER, JR./Motor News Media Corporation

More of a good thing. Combining timeless good looks, sophisticated interior design with solid engineering, the compact Volkswagen Jetta sedan remains smart, youthful and hip - inside and out.

Launched during the 1997 model year, the front-drive Jetta sedan succeeds in still looking smartly handsome - despite an onslaught of capable competitors and changing consumer tastes.

Built on the same platform as the popular Beetle coupe, the Volkswagen Jetta offers consumers the unique qualities of a premium-class European sedan in design, performance, comfort and attention to detail.

Available in GL, GLS, GLI or the top-of-the-line GLX trim, the Volkswagen Jetta sedan has a different personality to fit just about everybody. Engine offerings include the 2.0-liter four-cylinder, 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder, 1.9-liter TDI diesel four-cylinder and a 2.8-liter VR six- cylinder powerplant. Available gearbox choices are a five-speed manual, six-speed manual (GLI), four-speed automatic and a five-speed automatic with Tiptronic.

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For 2003, Volkswagen increased the level of standard equipment on the entry-level GL model. For what amounts to a few dollars more, the German automaker added power windows, power heated exterior mirrors, cruise control, premium AM/FM stereo cassette with CD player and newly designed 15-inch steel wheel covers.

All Jetta models now offer the automaker's Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) - a system that uses sophisticated yaw and position sensors to help automatically stabilize the vehicle in a sudden emergency maneuver. Optional on GL and GLS, ESP is standard on GLI and GLX models.

On the road, the GLI model equipped with the 2.8-liter six-cylinder and six-speed manual transmission is very impressive. The performance of the powertrain is awesome. This Jetta is a low-cost autobahn stormer in disguise. Bank vault solid, the Jetta hugs the road and inspires confidence at speed.

A robust body structure with a high torsional rigidity is the starting point for the suspension components. Front and rear stabilizer bars, coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers are complemented by independent MacPherson struts in the front and an independent track correcting torsion beam axle in the rear.

In the cabin, the look and feel of quality and precision are everywhere. The manual adjustments for the driver's seat are excellent. Displays and controls are easy to read and use. Rear-seat passengers enjoy good leg and head room. The 60/40 split rear seat back folds down flat with the cargo floor to increase the useable space of the square trunk.

QUICK VEHICLE STATS

2003 Volkswagen Jetta sedan

Wheelbase: 98.9; overall length: 172.3; width: 68.3; height: 56.7 (measurements in inches)

Engine: 2.0-liter four-cylinder - 115 hp at 5,200 rpm and 122 lbs-ft of torque at 2,600 rpm; 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbo - 180 hp at 5,500 rpm and 173 lbs-ft at 1,950-5,000 rpm; 1.9-liter four-cylinder turbo diesel - 90 hp at 3,750 and 155 lbs-ft of torque at 1,900 rpm; 2.8-liter VR6 - 200 hp at 6,200 rpm and 195 lbs-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm.

Transmissions: Five-speed manual, six-speed manual, four-speed automatic and five-speed automatic with Tiptronic.

EPA fuel economy: Ranges from 42 city, 49 hwy. for the 1.9L turbo diesel with manual gearbox to 21 city, 31 hwy. for the 2.8-liter VR6 with the five-speed automatic.

Cargo capacity: 13.0 cubic feet.

SAFETY FEATURES

Side-impact door beams, energy absorbing side-impact door padding, daytime running lights, anti-theft vehicle alarm, immobilizer theft deterrent system, automatic locking feature, remote central power locking system, dual front air bags, seat-mounted side air bags for driver and front passenger, side curtain protection and four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock.

TDI models add engine braking control. The 1.8-liter turbo models add anti-slip regulation and electronic differential lock. GLI adds electronic stabilization program. GLX adds rain sensor windshield system and fog lamps.

WARRANTY

Basic: 5-year/60,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper

Powertrain: 5-year/60,000 mile, limited

Corrosion: 12-year/unlimited

Roadside assistance: 4-year/50,000 mile, 24-hour

PRICING

The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2003 Volkswagen Jetta sedan starts from $17,100 for the base GL four-cylinder manual up to $26,940 for the top-of-the-line GLX sedan. Destination charge adds $575.

© 2003, Motor News Media Corporation

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