What is it like?

Used Volkswagen Jetta 2011-2017 review

(2011 - 2017)
Used Volkswagen Jetta 2011-2017
Review continues below...

What's the used Volkswagen Jetta saloon like?

Fashion is whatever goes out of fashion, as Coco Chanel observed. Once upon a time people buying a family car whether big or small didn’t quite trust this new-fangled hatchback business and preferred instead a conventional four-door saloon with a boot. Volkswagen filled this niche by sticking a boot onto the back of its immensely popular hatchback the Golf and creating the Jetta, the roots of which go all the way back to 1979.

The wheel having now swung all the way round the other way, this Jetta quietly disappeared from the VW UK pricelists in 2017, as buyers flock instead to hatchbacks and SUVs. However, a used example of a car that is essentially the same as a Golf underneath and remarkably similar to a Passat on the surface will still be seen as a good buy for many people.

This sixth generation car was launched in 2011 and was built in Mexico, and under its shapely bonnet there’s a healthy choice of some of VW’s best engines, too, including the 123bhp and 148bhp versions of its economical 1.4-litre TFSI petrol unit, and including the 108 and 148bhp versions of the 2.0 TDI diesel.

From new there were three trim levels to choose from - S, SE and GT. Entry-level models got 16in steel wheels, hill-hold assist, a post-collision braking system, electric windows, and electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors as standard, while inside there was air conditioning and Volkswagen's infotainment system complete with a 5.0in touchscreen display, a DAB radio and an SD card reader. Upgrade to the mid-range SE trim and you'd find 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, lumbar support, and a 6.5in touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, while the range-topping GT model added 17in alloy wheels, sports seats, tinted rear windows, sports-tuned suspension, and automatic lights and wipers.

On the road, all the engine options impress, although the lower powered 2.0 TDI diesel sometimes feels short of puff. The two 1.4 petrol units get along well, though, and both are smooth and refined in use, with an even spread of power. The most popular engine is the 2.0 TDI 150 diesel, which combines decent performance and low-end grunt with high-speed refinement and good fuel economy. The Jetta rides well, too, being both stable and unflustered, and it absorbs bumps and large road imperfections with a certain panache. It steers and handles competently, if without any real flair or driver enjoyment, and the only way you’re likely to run into any problems with the Jetta is if you enter a corner at supercar speeds.

Inside is a functional interior that bypasses style for a no-nonsense approach. The seats are firm and the driving position good, being adjustable in a number of planes. The dashboard and its surrounding areas are all laid out in an entirely logical pattern, with large, clear and sensibly located switches and dials. Although there are soft-touch plastics on display, the interior quality is, in fact, a little mixed, with some more brittle materials used lower down.

One area on which it scores is space, however, as this is a long car and the passengers benefit from that length. There’s plenty of space up front, and rear seat passengers get loads of leg and head room. There’s even room for three abreast in the rear for shorter journeys. Its boot is large and easily accessed, with up to 510 litres of space, although inevitably its opening is not as commodious as that of a regular hatchback’s.  

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