- Interior room and quality
- Sharp handling in GLI edition
- Dual-clutch transmission
- Coming diesel version
- Japanese styling
- Dull five-cylinder acceleration
- Features omitted, not added
The 2008 Volkswagen Jetta has great room and a great turbo engine option, though its character’s been diluted a little.
The 2008 Volkswagen Jetta is in its third year on the market in its current body style. With a range of five-cylinder and turbocharged four-cylinder engines, a sport version, and wagon and diesel versions on tap for late 2008, the Jetta offers a sportier alternative to the compact sedans from Honda, Toyota, GM, and Ford.
With its restyling in the 2006 model year, though, the Volkswagen Jetta adopted a shape that some critics think is too similar to its Japanese competition. Some feel the new Jetta looks too much like a large Toyota Corolla, and not enough like its own crisply European ancestors. The interior, though, is precisely Volkswagen, with sophisticated looks and feel, switches that work smoothly, and grab handles that are well damped.
The 2008 Volkswagen Jetta’s powertrains start mediocre and finish brilliant. The base engine is a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter in-line five-cylinder with 177 pound-feet of torque. It’s a flat performer with either the notchy five-speed manual or the six-speed automatic. Volkswagen’s marvelous 2.0-liter turbocharged four, with 200 hp, is standard on the Jetta GLI, and it can be ordered with the magnificent dual-clutch transmission, easily the most entertaining drivetrain on the new Jetta. Fuel economy ranges from 22/29 mpg with the five-cylinder to 21/29 mpg with the turbo four--but a diesel version with up to 50 mpg highway fuel economy arrives at the end of summer 2008.
The 2008 Volkswagen Jetta is a roomy sedan, with a tall ceiling. It gives occupants more room to stretch their legs, bodies, and necks than the average compact, and it has a cavernous 16-cubic-foot trunk with fold-down rear seats for even more storage. The 2008 Jetta no longer offers automatic climate control or leather seats, but a sunroof and a premium sound system are options.
All 2008 Volkswagen Jettas feature front side-impact airbags, full-length curtain/head airbags, and anti-lock brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution. Electronic stability control is optional on the base and midtrim models, and it's standard on GLI. The Jetta gets four stars from the NHTSA for front-impact protection and five stars for side impacts.