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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist


Still missing it? Volkswagen Jetta updated in the ‘States

Updates highly unlikely to see Jetta returning to South Africa as production remains a left-hand-drive only affair.


Unveiled in 2018 as the first generation not be offered locally in its then near 40 year history, the Volkswagen Jetta and sporty Jetta GLI have both been revised in North America following a series of improvements to the latter earlier this year.

Heading for dealerships across the United States from the fourth quarter of this year, the Jetta, built at Wolfsburg’s Puebla Plant in Mexico, benefits from subtly redesigned front and rear bumpers, chrome bars on the updated grille and new alloy wheel designs ranging from 16-18 inches.

updated Volkswagen Jetta
More difficult to spot are the tweaks at the rear.

Also new are standard LED headlights across the range with the GLI receiving projector type lights as well as red detailing on the grille similar to the Golf GTI, dual exhaust outlets and a honeycomb pattern on the faux rear diffuser.

Volkswagen has also rejigged the Jetta’s trim levels by dropping the R-Line in favour of the Sport, which sits below the GLI but above the entry-level S and comes with model bespoke features such as dark graphite 17-inch alloy wheels, a black grille and black mirror caps as well as window surrounds.

ALSO READ: Forbidden fruit: Volkswagen reveals subtly updated GTI-powered Jetta GLI

Inside, all models are equipped as standard with an eight-inch Active Info Display digital instrument cluster with the 10.25-inch display fitted to the GLI. Also standard on the latter is a leather wrapped sport steering wheel and perforated leather heated and ventilated front seats, with the standard Jetta opting for a leatherette wheel and heated only seats depending on the trim level.

A black roofliner and cloth seats are fitted to the Sport and no other model with additional features, both standard and optional, comprising of a wireless smartphone charger, push-button start, climate control, a ten-colour ambient lighting system, sunroof and an eight-speaker Beats sound system.

updated Volkswagen Jetta
Jetta interior

With the exception of the S that boasts Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Monitoring and Front Assist as standard, the rest of the line-up comes fully equipped with Volkswagen’s IQ Drive system that consists of Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Emergency Assist, Travel Assist and Active Blind Spot Monitoring.

The biggest change has however taken place underneath the bonnet where the previous 1.4 TSI engine has been dropped in favour of the 1.5 TSI Evo that does duty in not only the bulk of Volkswagens in Europe, but also in the Taos made in the same factory as the Jetta.

updated Volkswagen Jetta
Interior of the Jetta GLI

Outputting 118kW/250Nm, the unit is mated to a six-speed manual or an eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox with the GLI retaining the 2.0 TSI from the Golf GTI that punches out 169kW/350Nm. While keeping the manual gearbox as well, the GLI’s self-shifting option comes in the guise of a seven-speed DSG with both it and the Sport getting the XDS electronic front differential as standard.

As indicated, sales are set to commence towards the end of this year, but as has been case since its debut three years ago, no plans are in place to bring the Jetta back to South Africa as it is made solely with left-hand-drive.

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