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If you think the 2000 Jetta GLS is the same old 1999 compact sedan, you haven't looked under the hood. Here lurks Volkswagen's secret weapon in the car wars, a brand new turbo engine, first seen on the New Beetle, that'll knock your socks off. Don't be misled by the fact that there are only four pistons jumping up and down in their cylinders, either. In fact, matched up against most larger six-cylinder jobs, the Jetta's four-cylinder will catch the flag first.
Okay, maybe with the manual transmission that's not such a stretch. Well I've got news for you. The automatic transmission is just as powerfully and quickly responsive as the manual, if not better, thanks to mating its adaptive "fuzzy logic" with that turbocharger, though the 1.8T gulps up gas a bit faster than the manual transmission.
What gives the Jetta its race pace? The engine's five-valve technology uses a turbocharger and an intercooler for cool, high-density intake air, a basic ingredient of power. The five valves per cylinder supply the engine with excellent top-end "breathing" and the double overhead camshafts provide for optimal valve control.
The result is 150 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 155 lb-ft of torque all the way from 1750 rom, when you need it to accelerate real fast, to 4600 rpm. This all makes for an extraordinarily flat torque curve that gives you lots of pulling power all the way through to the top. With this kind of power and a grip that paints itself to the pavement, you're going to enjoy taking this car to the edge.
A more upscale proposition
While the Jetta has lots of features you'd pay extra for with other cars in this category, and the GLS with the turbo engine is a very fine car, this isn't a luxury model, although its price is slightly higher than you'd expect to pay for a compact. However, the Jetta is a best-seller and leads the compact sedan market. Over the past two years this car has helped to take Volkswagens out of the utilitarian category and into a much more upscale segment.