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Volkswagen Jetta 1.4TSi petrol review

Driven June 2012

Volkswagen Jetta 1.4TSi petrol review

With Volkswagen launching the new Jetta as a diesel only option a year ago it, seems foolish to come out with a petrol version at a time when petrol is, well, as expensive as a date in the Taj for a college kid running on pocket money. But that may not be the tough part. The tough part is when prospective customers hear it’s a 1.4-litre engine in a segment that’s littered with 1.8s and twos.

However, that 122bhp, turbo-charged engine is brilliant. The meat of the torque comes in at a diesel-like 1,500rpm and all this is mated to a very slick, short-throw, six-speed manual gearbox. This is the kind of gearbox that makes you wonder why manufacturers resort to all that rocket science over dual clutches, steering-mounted paddles and artificial intelligence-infused transmissions. The manual in the Jetta is superb, and even for those of you too lazy to shift, you can actually get away with a lot.

It can pull from 50kph just under 1,000rpm in sixth gear without any shuddering or vibrations. Besides, thanks to the lighter engine (as compared to the 2-litre diesel), the steering feels more alive with the reduced weight that it has to steer around. Ride is extremely comfortable and the rear passengers get AC vents just like in the diesel.

The only disappointment? That cheap centre console and the utter lack of equipment. The centre console is made of shiny black plastic, the media system has been downgraded from the one that you get in the diesel, and you don’t get stuff like electric seats, climate control, Bluetooth, USB port, auto locking... stuff you get in cars under Rs 10 lakh these days. Which is the other bit. The pricing. VW hasn’t announced prices, yet. And logic would dictate that each variant would be at least a lakh cheaper than the equivalent diesel, or more.

Which is where the logic for a petrol comes in. VW says that on an average, people who buy new cars sell off their old cars within three to four years; just the time it takes for a diesel car to break-even in terms of running costs. So if you are one of those types, the petrol Jetta makes more sense than a diesel. So you see, it’s not that foolish... a petrol-powered car. But VW better cut a good lakh and a half off the diesel’s price for this. Will they? We’ll know soon.

 



Sriram Narayanan

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