The term facelift alludes to a mild visual update, and that certainly is the case with the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta, though the main developments are further beneath the skin. Outwardly, the main exterior revisions applied to the refreshed Jetta – which was launched here in September – include a new grille, front and rear bumper and lights.
The new car is built on a chassis that is largely unchanged from the pre-facelift, with key changes being under the bonnet. There’s a new heart inside the Jetta, with the previous, twin-charged 1.4 litre engine having been replaced by another 1.4 litre engine, the single turbo EA211.
The unit, already in service in the updated Golf 1.4, offers 150 PS and 250 Nm of torque from 1,500 rpm to 3,500 rpm here. The numbers are 10 PS down and 10 Nm up from that on the previous engine. Meanwhile, performance figures include a 0-100 km/h time of 8.6 seconds and a 220 km/h top speed, a shade slower than the pre-facelift (8.3 seconds and 221 km/h).
Some notes about the new mill. In order to make up for the comparative, inevitable turbo lag when going to a single turbo setup from a supercharged and turbocharged configuration, a number of measures were taken.
The integrated exhaust manifold allows for a shorter path for the exhaust gases to travel before it reaches and spins the exhaust turbine, while on the inhaling side of the engine, the intake manifold is also integrated into the engine block, with a smaller volume charge air system allowing the engine to attain the required charge air pressure more quickly.
A different wastegate design enables more precise control of turbocharger pressure, while a variable valve timing setup varies the characteristics on both intake and exhaust sides. In theory, the ingredients for it to do what it says on the tin are there.
Volkswagen’s seven-speed dry dual-clutch gearbox hasn’t had the best of times in terms of reliability, and the automaker has acknowledged the matter by updating the DQ200 transmission with a redesigned, more robust mechatronic unit, along with a new clutch lining material and software to resolve the transmission’s juddering symptoms, particularly on part-throttle loads at low speeds. Volkswagen also claims a reduction in DSG mechatronic failure by 90% since the switch to mineral oil for the unit.
In the Highline trim level we sampled, seats are upholstered in black Vienna leather, whereas that on the two other available models (the Trendline and Comfortline) are trimmed in cloth, while the driver gets a 12-way electrically adjustable seat in place of manual adjustment found on the other variants.
The range-topping model is also equipped with bi-xenon projector headlamps and LED daytime running lights (the other two get halogen reflectors) as well as LED tail lamps, and wears 17-inch Queensland alloy wheels and 225/45 profile tyres.
It also features a Climatronic dual-zone AC system, keyless entry, push-button engine start (with the switch button located in front of the gear lever), cruise control and a five-inch RCD330G touchscreen-equipped head unit, with Bluetooth and Mirrorlink. Here, the infotainment system is hooked up to eight speakers; the Jetta gets six speakers elsewhere in the range.
Standard fit across the Jetta range is automatic stop/start with regenerative braking and a safety kit count of six airbags, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), an Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS) and a hill-hold assist function.
Hop inside, and you’ll find the dash architecture and layout to be intuitive, with the driver greeted by Volkswagen’s recent steering wheel design (which also graces the seventh-generation Golf and more recently, the Vento). In the rear passenger cabin, occupants will benefit from centrally-mounted air-conditioning vents.
Rolling out from a standstill, much of the previous Jetta is naturally present, and the workings of the new engine are very subtle. There’s very little difference in behaviour from the prior twin-charged engine, such is its polished nature when traveling at steady urban speeds.
The new powerplant’s characteristics are only made apparent when more sprightly progress is called upon. It isn’t found wanting for outright power, rather, the delivery is slightly mellowed when compared to the old 1.4 litre twin-charged unit.
In-gear acceleration feels slightly less urgent compared to the previous Jetta’s, with noticeable extra lag between the summoning of extra throttle and the delivery of shove. Once on the boil though, it hauls along nicely.
The updated, seven-speed dry dual-clutch transmission comes with a coasting feature intended to help improve fuel efficiency, though this function might take some getting used to. Particularly for drivers accustomed to decelerating by lifting off the throttle, the standard coasting function can make the facelift Jetta feel a little like a runaway trolley as it disengages the driveline from the driven wheels.
Small matter, so long as the driver doesn’t mind putting the transmission into manual override or ‘S’, then it will hold on to the present gear ratio like a conventional automatic.
Otherwise, the Jetta’s chassis and drive aspects are familiar, holding true to the typical German car stereotype of being rock steady at sustained highway speeds, making for reassuring stability. Happily, this steadfastness does not come at the cost of ride comfort, as the Jetta also tackles our rather interestingly paved Malaysian roads with well controlled damping.
What price then, a slice of Pekan-assembled Volkswagen? At RM129,578 on-the-road excluding insurance for the range-topping Highline variant, the Volkswagen Jetta facelift is priced somewhat in the middle of the C-segment sedan range.
It’s a crowded arena, and with entrants such as the locally-assembled Mazda 3 sedan (RM121,105), the Toyota Corolla Altis 2.0V (RM138,900), Honda Civic 1.5 Turbo Premium (RM131,883) and the Ford Focus Titanium+ sedan (RM139,888), there’s no shortage of challenges for the Jetta.
GALLERY: Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI Highline