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Tom Wolfsburg Edition Jetta: Caravella-Colored Steamlined Baby Revisited

Thomas Wolfsburg Edition Jetta?

(VW's Caravella-Colored, Jetta-Streamlined, Fahrenheit Baby)

Volkswagen's promotional models that are, well, special.  VW often calls them Wolfsburg Editions.  This year, the Jetta gets the Wolfsburg treatment:  a turbocharged 200 hp direct-injected engine, a choice of six-speed transaxles and sport suspension similar to its on hiatus GLI.  Some time ago, I tested a similar Fahrenheit version squirted with glossy crayon-yellow paint.

Highlights:  Whereas, many of today's automotive interiors are Tupperware parties on wheels--not the pastel stuff, but lifeless beige plastic--VW's designers took the brick road to Technicolor Oz and added dash to the dash board and door panel inserts with vivid yellow trim.  For further whimsy, yellow thread ties together leather-trimmed seats and the shift-lever boot--even the floor mats show mellow-yellow stitching. Glossy yellow-coated metal extends into the trunk and engine compartments.  You'll find smooth paint in places where few carmakers put their finish first.

Yellow accents aren't the whole car story. For example, this Jetta is endowed with a sport-tuned suspension, potent engine and supportive seating.  An energetic direct-fuel-injection, turbo-charged, 2.0-liter, 200-hp, four-cylinder engine resides under its hood.  That mill is mated to either a six-speed manual or a six-speed, direct-shift gearbox.  The latter is a manual transmission that automatically picks gears and operates clutches.  My tester had the manual. Its tightly-spaced gear ratios encourage swift driving.  You row through the gears via a stout-feeling, short-throw shifter.

The clutch engages firmly with a long-travel pedal. Foot controls are well placed for heel-toe operation--a method of revving the engine while braking with your right foot.  This lets the entrepreneurial driver scat, when exiting a corner.  You don't need fancy foot-work though; this VW's torque is plentiful from about 1,800 rpm to redline.

The engine's ample power moves the front wheels with astonishing ease--zero to 60 mph in a prompt 7.2 seconds; top speed is limited to 128 mph.   The speedometer tops out at a wildly optimistic 180.  You'll hear a purposeful grunt from the engine, feel little if any torque steer, and barely notice that an inter-cooled turbocharger kicks in the extra thrust.  With its fluid power delivery, you just grab the beefy three-spoke steering wheel and point this solid Caravella-colored, high-spirited, streamlined baby toward your favorite roadway.  The car stops well too, although a firmer brake pedal would be nice.

On that roadway, you'll discover that the electric power-assisted steering feels just right--never too slow, never too light, never nervous, always calm.  Plus, it telegraphs through your fingers what the front tires caress.  At times the sensation is magical; the car flattens out crowned roads and hangs onto curves with gorilla-like grip.

The manually adjusted front bucket seats are firm amusement places to park your keister.  Get in, strap on the belts, grab for the gusto.  When it comes to karting your kin, the Jetta ferries four adults with lots of room up front and a bit of a squeeze in the back.  Rear occupants have heater and ventilation outlets. The center rear position, which is also an armrest, beverage holder and trunk pass-through is a hard perch.  Interior trim, fit and finish are luxury grade.  An ample trunk is nicely finished; the rear seat backs fold to increase cargo room.

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