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Volkswagen Jetta GL (2000)

SEE ALSO: Volkswagen Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin

Volkswagen Full Line Video footage (9:02)

     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 17,650
     Price As Tested                                    $ 19,495
     Engine Type               SOHC 8-valve 2.0 Liter I4 w/SMFI*          
     Engine Size                                 121 cid/1984 cc
     Horsepower                                   115 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               122 @ 2600 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                   98.9"/68.3"/172.3"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     2952 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  14.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                        P195/65R15H all weather
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                              Seven percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.30

     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            21/29/26          
     0-60 MPH                                       10.5 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          18.0 seconds @ 85.5 mph
     Top speed                                           110 mph

               * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

When the Volkswagen Jetta was introduced in 1980, it quickly took top sales honors from its Rabbit sibling, introduced just a few years earlier. Since then, the Jetta has been the best-selling VW in the U.S.

Now, as the New Jetta enters its sophomore year, Volkswagen couldn't be more pleased with its first-year success. Based on the company's CJ Concept Car of 1996, it's assembled for the American market in Puebla, Mexico. It is available in base GL, top-line GLX and as our tester, the GLS.

OUTSIDE - The Jetta's seductive body style represents a big improvement over the previous model and not surprisingly, looks like a small VW Passat. Prior to 1999, the Jetta seemed cautiously styled. The new version has short overhangs and fluid contours, with flush-mounted headlights, door handles and bumpers. Assembly techniques for the Jetta's body use laser welding and special bonding techniques, so its body seams and cut lines show tight tolerances. It shares what Volkswagen calls its "Global A-platform" with five different vehicles, some of which are built and sold only in Europe. Trunk space is a respectable 13 cubic feet, with hydraulic hinges that do not intrude on trunk space.

INSIDE - Its sport seats cradle the body firmly, with very good lateral support. The radio and ventilation controls are low in the dash, requiring a slight stretch for adjustment, and a pair of cupholders reside high and within easy reach. The seats are movable fore and aft, of course, but also have a unique pump-action lift for up and down adjustment. The padding inside the seats is stiff and the interior fit-and-finish is good. Features include side-impact air bags, a large three-spoke steering wheel connected to a tilt and telescoping column, plus large analog gauges backlit in vibrant blue lighting with glowing red needles. The Jetta is well-equipped, as even the base level Jetta offers such items as air conditioning, a lockable 60/40 split folding rear seat, an AM/FM/cassette stereo and keyless entry. GLS models add power windows and outside mirrors, which are also heated. New this year is an optional eight-speaker, 200-watt Monsoon Audio system that can be paired with a trunk-mounted CD changer. Child seat tether anchors for the rear seat are also new for 2000.

ON THE ROAD - There are three different engines available for the Jetta including a 90-horse direct-injection turbodiesel which delivers up to 49 miles per gallon with good performance. Optional with the GLS and standard with the GLX is a 2.8 liter V6 that produces 174 horses and 181 pound-feet of torque, but most Jettas will be equipped with VW's workhorse 2.0 liter four cylinder engine. It uses a single overhead camshaft, multi-port fuel injection and Bosch-Motronic ignition. It puts out 115 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque, and when mated to the standard five-speed manual transmission, gives sports-car driving fun.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - The Jetta rides on a MacPherson strut front suspension and a simple twist-beam rear axle. Both ends use coil springs, tube shocks and an 18-millimeter stabilizer bar. VW widened the front and rear tracks on the New Jetta by about two inches, so the platform became a bit more stable at speed. The wheelbase grew by over an inch, and the suspension was softened to give a smoother ride. Extra sound insulation and improved motor mounts smoothed some of the vibrations found in the old model. A bit of handling prowess was lost with the softer suspension and its power rack-and-pinion steering system could be a little sharper. Some blame can be attributed to its soft standard tires, however, and we've seen many New Jettas on the road with upgraded tire/wheel combinations. We've been told that they greatly enhance Jetta's ability to tackle twisting roads. Braking is done by standard four-wheel discs with an anti-lock braking system (ABS).

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags, dual side-impact airbags, side-impact door beams and ABS are standard.

OPTIONS - Cold Weather Package: $150; Monsoon Audio System: $295; four-speed automatic transmission: $875. Destination: $525.