New 2017 VW Jetta: Now with Coasting Function

VW calls this a 'timeless look' - I agree. — Pic by YS Khong
VW calls this a 'timeless look' - I agree. — Pic by YS Khong

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — If you are looking for a C-segment car, check out the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta, launched a couple of months ago by Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM), and pay particular attention to a special feature that is only found in more expensive cars – the Coasting Function.

The benefit of the Coasting Function is approximately 10 per cent better fuel economy, and how it works is that whenever you take your foot off the accelerator, the transmission dis-engages to allow the car to freewheel and thus save fuel. The ids-engagement of the transmission is done automatically whenever the car senses ‘negative throttle’, but will re-engage the gears whenever the driver steps on the brakes or depresses the accelerator pedal again.

The Jetta is already a very fuel efficient car, with Volkswagen’s latest generation, down-sized 1.4 litre turbo-charged engine that delivers an impressive 150 PS of power and maximum torque of 250 Nm, which is equivalent to the power of a 2.0 litre conventional engine. When push comes to shove, the Jetta will show many other bigger capacity cars a clean pair of heels, doing the zero to 100km/h sprint in 8.6 seconds, and hit a top speed of 221 kilometres per hour. Fuel economy is rated at 5.0 litres per 100 kilometres – in real world terms, expect typical numbers around 7.5 to 10 litres per 100kilometres, depending on how diligently you drive – but I can assure you the coasting function will help you get good numbers. The Jetta features front-wheel drive, and the power is transferred to the road via a 7-speed DSG gearbox. Shifts are seamless, and transmission slip is all but eliminated.

The great thing is, the Jetta gives you a choice – to enjoy yourself thoroughly and let your hair hang loose – let the adrenaline flow – the Jetta will deliver that type of fun should you want it. It is not a Golf GTi, but 159 horses in a turbo-charged engine is a respectable number, and the high torque from the turbo-charger gives that additional oomph. Alternatively, you could take a relaxed drive, keeping the foot pressure light and ease your way through – the Jetta will respond by delivering a smooth drive and rewarding you with fuel economy close to what it claims to give. This alone would be enough to satisfy.

Why else would you want to pick the Jetta? There is the Golf 7 with the identical engine, which would perform just the same – but if you need the additional space from a larger body, and also the 510 litres of luggage space the rear boot provides, then the Jetta (sedan) would be a better alternative than the Golf (hatchback). On a recent overseas trip, I managed to squeeze four large bags, and four carry-on bags into the back of a Jetta. In comparison, my old 204 C Class couldn’t even take two of the same bags.

In terms of safety features, the Jetta has an impressive list – Electronic Stability Control is standard across all variants, as is hill-hold, which holds the car stationary on a slope for a few seconds to allow one to shift one’s foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator pedal. Dual front and side airbags, plus dual curtain bags make it a total of six airbags, and there is an intelligent crash response system in place. Children are not forgotten with ISOFIX points and top tethers. Things that are not seen include anti-submarine seats, and brake pad wear indicators that tell you your pads need changing. For convenience and added safety, the front belts come with height adjustment, belt tensioners and load limiters. Daytime Running lights are also standard across the range.

Other great features include Engine Start/Stop and regenerative braking, electrically adjustable wing mirrors with puddle lights. Steering is speed-sensitive and electro-mechanical.

A look at the Jetta's cockpit. — Pic by YS Khong
A look at the Jetta's cockpit. — Pic by YS Khong

I like the thought that went into power sockets for front and rear occupants, and also an additional point in the boot. I also like the rear split and folding seatbacks that allow for easy stowage or long items or bulky items. Parking sensors at the front and rear are also a great plus point to help prevent parking skirmishes.

The Jetta is offered in three variants, namely the Trendline, Comfortline and Highline packages. The Trendline is the base model, retailing at RM108,990.00 – key highlights are Halogen headlamps, 16-inch ‘Sedonia’ wheels, and ‘Sienna’ fabric seats. Remember though, that the base package includes all the features that are already standard across the variants, so even the base model is pretty well stacked up.

The Comfortline is the middle of the pack model, retailing at RM117,990.00. Extras in this package include a 5-inch touch screen display radio with USB and Ipod interface, SD Card slot, Aux-in, bluetooth and mirrorlink. Auto dimming rear view mirror, auto headlights, auto wipers, dual climatic control air-conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, and 16-inch ‘Navarra’ wheels, plus adjustable halogen lights are all standard for this package.

The Highline package is the top-of-the-heap at RM128,990 – the gap from the baseline is RM20,000 – for this, you get an additional 2 speakers, making it a total of 8 in all, Bi-xenon headlights with headlamp washers (the bi-xenons are worth it) and LED Daytime Running Lights, Keyless entry and Push Button start, lockable and cooled glovebox, 17-inch alloy wheels and leather upholstery.

I had the Jetta with me for three days, and it was a pleasure to drive – I especially like the great ‘balance’ of the car – it is neutral in handling, and corners very well. I once participated in a three model Volkswagen drive around five years ago, and that drive included the previous generation Jetta – even then, the Jetta never failed to impress, and I remember commenting that I liked the ‘balance’ of the Jetta then. The new one delivers the same confidence.

The C-segment is a rather crowded segment – every major manufacturer has a model with many variants that fall into this category, in terms of size and prize. The buyer is spoilt for choice, and there are many pull factors such as vehicle styling, attractive prices, and brand equity. In my opinion, the Jetta stands high in terms of specifications level, size, price, value for money, and fun-to-drive.

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