As I walk towards the Jetta, my first impression is not a good one. It looked like a rep mobile, an appliance. Something that the exact average person would buy. The first impression doesn’t excite, it doesn’t ask the watcher to lust after it’s sexy curves or voluptuous edges – instead it looks like it was designed by someone called Johnathan in a studio without windows or proper ventilation.
The problem is not just that it’s a boring design, but that I’ve seen the shape a billion times. Well let’s rather say the shape of the vehicle has surely passed before my eyes a billion times…whether I’ve actually noticed it at all was another thing.
Be it as it may, I’ve got the now outdated “flick knife” key that was cool before y2k in my hand and I am now walking towards this beast of boredom and whether I look forward to it or not, I’m going to drive it.
Now I’ve heard lots of good things about the Jetta 1.9 Tdi. The best of which is fuel consumption. Often you can overhear old people bragging in the queue at the local Pharmacy about who can drive the furthest for the least amount of money. The winner in this circle of frugal old geezers more often than not will use the Jetta 1.9TDI as his sled. The Michael Schumacher of shady pines retirement village is not someone who drives a bright red Ferrari, but rather the elderly Stirling moss lookalike that drives the Jetta 1.9 Tdi with scuff marks on its bumpers.
This didn’t deter me one bit because I was going to find out exactly how little fuel I could use for my upcoming 200km trip and was strangely excited about the prospect of doing the trip on a cup of fuel. Could it be that all the marketing hoo haa about environment this and low emission that and fuel economy sis and save the trees so actually gotten through my need for speed and changed my mindset about driving cars? Well no. I didn’t have any money on me so I would have to do the trip on the fuel that was left in the car or take my hard earned cash to feed the yawnmonster.
Luckily it turned out that the Jetta was an awesome vehicle to drive. Not the quickest, most nimble, exciting or anything that would make you reminisce for THAT day you drove a Jetta. But something else. It was a remarkable epiphany on what is actually possible from a smallish diesel engine using the fumes from the tank of diesel. It opened my eyes to a fantastic blend of adequate performance and economy and yes, the old geezers were absolutely right to brag about his diesel sipping steed.
Thing is people probably thought the golden oldies were watching too many straight episodes of noot for noot when they told about the performance AND the fuel economy. But alas it’s true.
I ended up easily driving the 200km trip on what little fuel I had in the tank, but amazingly I didn’t try to drive like ‘n ou tannie. I drove it. I mean PROPERLY drove it! I even decided to take the alternative route to test the handling at speed and stability through corners at high speed. Something I wouldn’t recommend.
Make no mistake the Jetta can take a corner but it’s more flabby man boobs than perky Paris Hilton. The car I drove felt at high speeds through a corner as if there was an imaginary axis between the inside front wheel and the outside rear wheel along which the car rocked through corners. I never thought I was going to crash, but I prefer to think about exit angle rather than keeping the car on the road.
But that’s not what this car was built for. It was indeed built for the guy that wants to play it safe, on a budget. The buyer of a Jetta like this probably never thinks of bombing through corners quickly or rapid acceleration. The buyer of this car is more concerned with the fuel economy and drive on long straight roads and overtaking acceleration, all of which the car excels at.
So what do I think of the Jetta? It’s an amazing car to be honest. I actually enjoyed it immensely. The joy of driving enthusiastically and still getting just over 6 l/100km is much more than I thought it was going to be. It’s got enough power for most people, use less fuel than most cars, comfortable and ticks a lot of boxes in the option department.
For me then this car is a bit of an above average average. It’s the washing machine that also irons your clothes. The stove that also washes the dishes. the cellphone with excellent battery life, but also a great camera. It’s a Nokia 3310 with a 8 megapixel camera. Nice.