After 6 years of driving the family Impala, the time has come to let it rest in the big car shop in the sky! It was a great car, a dependable car and a car that was great to drive. We needed another car like that, but what to get?
There are so many choices, not to mention other factors in play that were not an issue 6 years ago, a bad economy, US auto makers not doing well. Should we stay domestic or go with an import? We looked at numerous cars; domestically we looked at the Chevy Malibu, and the Ford Fusion, import wise we looked into the Hyundai Sonata and the Nissan Maxima. We ended up with the 2008 VW Jetta! Why? It is a smaller car than all the others we test drove and smaller than the Impala we laid to rest, so why did we choose it?
Being from England, i grew up around Volkswagen. They are incredibly common in England. It has been a long time coming stateside, but VW is now a strong player in the US Market. VW have been known for great craftsmanship and excellent reliability. The Jetta is no exception
We came across a Silver 2008 Jetta S on the lot and it caught my eye! There was something about it. Maybe it was seeing the VW badge on the gorgeous chrome grill that stirred memories of the classic VW Golf and how much fun they were to drive, maybe the sleek, sexy lines of the car drew me in, who knows? I just knew I had to drive it. Now the wife was not so sure, after all we have two children, I’m a big guy at 6ft 2″ and the Jetta is not a big car. I talked her in to taking a closer look and ultimately buying it.
The design of the Jetta is excellent! It is a great car to look at! The Chrome grill that i mentioned earlier on is stunning, sitting in the middle of the grill is a gleaming VW badge! The lines of the car are gorgeous from front to back; the dual exhausts are a nice touch as well.
We popped open the doors and climbed in, immediately we were both incredibly surprised at just how much room there was! Ample room for me to get my huge frame in and be comfortable, plenty of room for the misses too! We took a peek at the back seats and again, were impressed with the amount of room back there! More than enough room for the kids! I even jumped in the back seat to see if I could sit comfortably and I could, and had plenty of head room! The trunk is huge as well! Tons of room for groceries, golf clubs or whatever you need to get back there, not to mention the back seats fold flat for those larger items. There are also rear air vents on the back of the console that will blow that icy cold or hot air to the passengers in the back, which is important when you are trying to keep you kids comfortable!
The Jetta cabin is very well designed. The clusters on the dash made sense, the displays were easy to read, and the LCD information screen which glows red was easy to read, even with the sun beating down on it. The speedometer and Rev Counter are well placed and are again easy to read, and at night they glow and awesome electric blue color! The stereo is well placed and easy to use, but I am not a fan of the design of the radio, it maybe the only negative thing about the interior. The radio is huge! Way to big and is not that easy on the eye, but it serves its purpose well, it has a single cd player on the S, other models offer multidisc changers. One thing was a requirement was an auxiliary input for my Ipod. I did not see one on the radio, which was a disappointment, but open up the roomy glove box and in there you will find the auxiliary input for your mp3 player!
The seats in the Jetta are very comfortable. The tilt of the driver’s seat is controlled by a switch on the side, the back and forth motion of the seat is manual and not electric, but that is not a big deal. It has a control for lumbar support in both driver and passenger seat, and both driver and passenger seats can have their height changed, which is excellent. I have never been in a car where you can change the height of the seat. It makes it even easier to get into that sweet spot for driving. The steering column has rake and tilt controls as well.
Electric windows, power locks with remote entry and electric and heated mirrors come on the S model, as does cruise control and stability control. Wait a minute…why would a base model Jetta need stability control you ask? Well we will get to performance in a minute! Daytime running lamps are another safety feature as are numerous air bags, side mounted airbags in the seats for front passengers and head curtain airbags are standard. 4 wheel antilock disc brakes are standard as well, so the safety features are excellent.
The 2008 Jetta S comes equipped with a 2.5 litre, 5 cylinder engine that is mounted to a 6 speed automatic or a 5 speed manual. Our car has the 6 speed auto. The engine puts out 170hp and 177 ft lb of torque. On the gear shifter you will find the usual, park, drive reverse but there are also a couple of other options. At the very bottom of the gear shift you will see an option labeled S, and + and – signs. So how does it drive?
The Jetta S, is amazing on the road. Incredibly fun and easy to drive. I was taken back to the days of my youth and I remembered why I loved VW cars growing up! The 2.5 liter engine is incredible! Touch the accelerator and you zip down the road! Acceleration is brisk and the engine has a throaty growl to it. We came to a stop sign and I took the car out of Drive and moved the shifter to S, which I was told stands for sport. WOW! What a difference. This is the reason for the stability control! If you turn that off while in sport mode, say goodbye to your tires! When you put the Jetta into sport mode the gear ratios change, acceleration is mind blowing in this setting. Gear changes are quick and smooth and before you know it you are flying down the freeway! The next stop sign and I change to manual shifting. Yes the Jetta S has tiptronic shifting which means you control the gear changes, even though the car is an automatic. Let me tell you, I have not had this much fun driving a car in a long time.
The 2.5 liter engine in this smaller car packs some punch! Manual shifting is as easy as pushing forward on the gear shift to change up and back to change down! This little car can move and it is fun to get to the redline and then shift! I have a huge grin on my face every time I drive this car. The handling is crisp and very responsive. You can feel everything you need to feel through the wheel and you have a great sense of being in control and a huge sense of safety while driving. The brakes are excellent, the Jetta will stop on a dime, those disc brakes that are on every wheel are quite incredible.
The fuel economy is very good. I have had the car for 4 weeks now and i have been averaging 26mpg around town and 30/31 on interstate which is very good. I do not drive it hard, although it is incredibly fun to do so. The car is very well designed and visibility is excellent through every window, you can see everything around you with ease.
The Germans are known for their great engineering and this VW Jetta is no exception to that rule. Everything about this car speaks quality. The fit and finish of the interior. The excellent reliability and performance of the engine. The fuel economy and safety features are excellent. The overall design of the car from the chrome grill at the front, to the dual exhaust at the back, to the satisfying thud of the doors closing, everything about this car is pure quality. I’m happy, the wife is happy, the kids are happy and so is my bank manager. The Jetta S cost us just $12,995 with 28k miles on the clock, which is a bargain for such a great car! If you are looking for a great car that has great design, performance and functionality, then look no further than the Jetta!