Volkswagen Jetta 1.4T 2016 Coming

 Years ago that Volkswagen brought out the current Jetta, VW miscalculated. It offered the strong-selling compact sedan in essentially two versions: Entry-level models were fitted with naturally aspirated engines, an inexpensive beam-axle rear suspension, and a basic electronic architecture. Only upmarket models like the GLI received the European-market multilink rear suspension, turbocharged engines, and more sophisticated electronics.

Entry-level configuration wasn't bad, and compared with other economy sedans like the Nissan Sentra and the Toyota Corolla, the Jetta performed admirably. But customers nonetheless shunned it in favor of the upmarket versions—and the unexpected sales breakdown in favor of the pricier cars negated the savings VW was hoping to achieve with the decontented entry-level versions. The solution: Upgrade the components for all Jettas, a mission that was mostly completed for 2015. The naturally aspirated 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which mustered an unremarkable 115 horsepower, was the last bit to go; it has finally been dropped for 2016.

 VW's 1.4-liter TSI. This turbo four makes 150 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque; that's far more than the predecessor's 125 lb-ft, and in fact it matches the torque of the 170-hp 1.8-liter TSI that’s found in the SEL and Sport models. The 1.4 revs quickly and suffers little turbo lag. Although the actual performance numbers we recorded during our testing are just midpack in the competitive set, the engine feels responsive and sophisticated, turning the base Jetta into one of the livelier cars in its class. It comes with a slick five-speed manual transmission or—as in our test car—an optional six-speed automatic with a tall sixth gear that helps keep revs down on long trips. We achieved 27 mpg over 300 miles of mixed driving, and the EPA rates fuel economy with the automatic at 28 mpg city and 39 mpg highway (it's 40 mpg highway with the manual). Those ratings are a whole lot better than the old 2.0-liter engine’s 23- and 34-mpg figures (25/34 with the stick).


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