2005 Volkswagen Jetta Photo
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Spring is around the corner, and several automakers have already introduced 2006 models. Meanwhile... Read more »
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Spring is around the corner, and several automakers have already introduced 2006 models. Meanwhile, many 2005 models have been on sale for over a year — so you’d think there would be no more ’05s to be introduced. But wait, there is one more — VW’s 2005 new Jetta. The word “new” has to be inserted in its name, as the “old” Jetta has also been available as a 2005 model for many months.

Confusing? Yes, which is why VW tells us to think of the “new” Jetta as a 2006 model, even if it isn’t officially.

It should be though, as the all new fifth-generation Jetta is totally different from the previous generation in looks and feel.

The Jetta is a critically important model to Volkswagen in the U.S. It is the company’s best-selling model here, and also the best-selling European model in the U.S. VW’s sales have dropped precipitously in the last couple of years and, sadly, this is nothing unusual for VW as its U.S. sales always seem to drop during the first half of every decade.

And in each of the past four decades a new model has helped the company’s revival. Last time it was the New Beetle and the previous Jetta. This time VW’s turnaround will be almost entirely reliant on the new Jetta as the Phaeton and Touareg are too upmarket to ever be volume sellers.

The Jetta celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and it has always been a car that appeals to Americans far more than Europeans. In Europe it is called the Bora and its sales are miniscule compared to the Golf. As all manufacturers have discovered, Americans do not like hatchbacks while Europeans far prefer them.

That’s why the Jetta is being made exclusively in Mexico and will be exported around the world within a few months. It also explains why the Golf, which is already on sale in Europe, is still months away form being introduced in North America. Once it does reach these shores it’ll put VWoA in an awkward financial position. It’s supposed to be a less expensive vehicle than the Jetta yet as it is built in Europe it will actually cost VW more to make than the Jetta. It’s no wonder the new Jetta is considered so critical to VW at this juncture in its history.

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