With top grade comfort levels, equipment and build quality, the new Volkswagen Jetta is a car worth waiting for

Volkswagen's new Jetta keeps its name but it is nothing like its predecessor. The manufacturer pulled out all the stops when they revealed the new car at Times Square to stunned New Yorkers. This included specially brought in sand, grass and deckchairs. The all-new Jetta is a car with which VW hopes to do well in America; the correct way for a quick and easy swipe at the compact saloon car market.

This new car takes VW's commitment to a whole new and improved level altogether. No more merely adding a boot to the Golf for VW; this is serious stuff, a completely new car.

The car is unlikely to hit Indian shores till the last quarter of 2011, but we can tell you now that it has the potential to shake up the segment. A mere glance at it in the flesh can tell you that. To begin with, it looks much more like a slightly shrunken Passat than a grown-up Jetta. VW designers chose to lower, widen and lengthen the car, both visually and dimensionally, to give it the profile of an upmarket saloon car. There are long flowing lines along the flanks, a crisply folded shoulder line adds definition, and wide wheel arches provide a confident stance. And the tight skinning and control of the sheet metal continues all the way around the rear, where the Audi A4-like lights are housed in a perfectly proportioned boot. But the best part is the nose, especially its sharp bonnet, detailed headlamps and traditional VW grille in black.

There are no signs of the Golf as the Jetta doesn't share any body panel with its sibling. Though the Jetta is loosely based on the Golf platform there are bits and pieces here that come from the larger Passat, itself a variant of the Golf. So while the front MacPherson strut suspension comes from the new Golf, the rear suspension is non-independent. VW has tried very hard to bring their new game to the opposition by reducing the price of the Jetta down to that of its competitors, and the rear suspension gets downgraded as a sign of cost cutting. However, it remains to be seen whether VW goes back to an independent rear suspension for European markets.

The longer Jetta now has much more space for passengers as the wheelbase is a full 70mm longer than its predecessor. The interiors fail to excite you as much as the exterior. The design is as VW as you can get and stuff such as the steering wheel, door pad and air-con vents seem to be lifted straight out of VW's inventory. But there's nothing wrong with them for they are superbly built, functionality is fantastic and feel built to last too. But they lack excitement and are not very different in design from even the Polo. Space comfort and utility, however, are right up where we expected. The large front seats are very supportive, the car is sold with six airbags and chrome highlights and the two-tone interior do help brighten up the cabin. There is plenty of space and legroom in the rear. Only marginally tighter than a Passat, there's acres of legroom and seat comfort is top notch in the new Jetta.

Powered by a normally aspirated 115bhp 2.0-litre petrol, the base model in the U.S. will retail for a very attractive $16,000 (Rs. 7.4 lakh). However, this motor is unlikely to make it to India initially. What will be among the first lot will be the 140bhp 2.0-litre TDI. A 175bhp five-cylinder petrol and a 2.0-litre 200bhp TSi are also among the range for now.

VW engineers also hint that the 1.2 TSi will be launched eventually in Europe, and there is a possibility of that motor coming to India too.

VW has set its sights high with the new Jetta. The car looks like it could cost twice as much as it does.

Comfort levels, equipment and build quality are top grade on the Jetta. VW has a winner on its hands — the new Jetta is worth the wait.