Volkswagen has pulled the wraps off the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, which is the sedan version of the Mk6 Golf hatchback. The Jetta, which received an American premiere at NYC’s Times Square will be priced from around $16,000, which is lower than the base price of its predecessor and should see it go head on with the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus sedan in the US. The launch tagline is “great, for the price of good.”

VW has high hopes for the Jetta in the US, which is understandable as the car is said to offer best in class rear legroom, a premium interior and a driving experience from the class above. “The 2011 Jetta is a class-up driving experience with the kind of styling, design and power under the hood normally found in more expensive luxury cars. At an extremely attractive price, this car is sophisticated, fun to drive and practical,” gushed Stefan Jacoby, CEO of Volkswagen America.

As with all new models, the Jetta has grown from the Mk5 Golf based car. Width and height are unchanged, but the new car is longer by 86 mm to make 4.64 metres. The familiar Golf 2,578 mm wheelbase has been extended to 2,650 mm for this application. Not so much a luxury as a must, as classmates like the Honda Civic have set the benchmark at 2,700 mm.

In terms of looks, the Jetta wears VW’s latest design theme with sharp lines and clean surfaces. They call it “timeless elegance and dynamic styling”, we say it’s a handsome car, if a little conservative. But that’s what people love and expect from VW; those looking for bold, avantgarde design will have to look elsewhere. Accurately previewed by the Detroit 2010 NCC show car, notable design cues include the gloss black long grille, well defined but not aggressive wheelarches and the prominent shoulder line or “tornado line” in VW speak. Rims can be up to 18 inches in size.

Inside, most will think that the Jetta’s dash is lifted straight from the Golf; it looks so, but that’s not the case. Although the layout is familiar, the main dash moulding is squarer in the Jetta. Here, the instrument binnacle hood “flows” into the centre stack while the Golf’s is independent. The air vents in the Jetta are rectangular. VW has also moved the wing mirror controls back to the door panel, which is less intuitive than in the Golf. Like the C-segment hatch benchmark, material build quality should be top notch.

North American Jettas will come with four engines, including a 2.0 TDI Clean Diesel with 320 Nm, good for 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) in 8.7 seconds. The others are a 2.0, 2.5 R5 (5-pot diesel) and the 2.0 TSI. All engines will come with a manual as standard, but a six-speed auto is an option. The 2.0 TDI and TSI can be had with a 6-speed DSG.

Would this have been the next-gen Waja if Proton-VW talks didn’t go down the drain? Gallery and a video after the jump.

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