The 2011 Jetta will be available in four trim levels-S, SE, SEL, and GLI. As noted, the Jetta S will start at $15,995 with a 2.0-liter engine, five-speed manual, air conditioning, cloth interior, ABS/ESP, and 15-inch steel wheels. The SE gets a 2.5-liter engine, 16-inch wheels (still steel), leatherette interior, and a handful of additional conveniences for a base price of $18,195. For $21,395, the SEL adds rear disc brakes, chrome trim, 17-inch alloy wheels, trip computer, foglights, touchscreen nav, and keyless access. When it becomes available, the TDI will only be offered in SE trim, but with some of the SEL equipment thrown in with the pricier motor. The outgoing Jetta had more than 100 possible trim variations, whereas this has been reduced to just 18 in the new model (excluding colors and emission combos). This is the first of many moves that help bring the price down through reduced model proliferation.
I've followed enough of the VW fanboy sites to learn the new Jetta has caused more than a little consternation among the VW faithful. And rightfully so. No Volkswagen enthusiast wants to see his favorite chassis regress. Truth is, this car isn't designed for them. Volkswagen wants all those Toyota owners to step into something a little more engaging. If VW can match Toyota's bulletproof build quality, it just might work.
All you hardcore Jetta lovers will want to wait for the upcoming GLI with its 2.0-liter turbo engine, electro-mechanical steering, and independent rear suspension. I'd also wager Volkswagen will dress the body with snarky new aerodynamics to distinguish it from its lesser-equipped brethren. Or hell, try the TDI Jetta. For the money, the TDI Jetta is hands-down the best value in the turbodiesel arena. It's quick and quiet and gets absolutely phenomenal mileage. No, it won't be as inexpensive as the base Jetta S, but it represents as significant step forward in the Jetta's evolution.
2011 Volkswagen Jetta S
Transverse front engine, front-wheel drive
2.0-liter I4, dohc, 8-valve
Five-speed manual; optional six-speed automatic
MacPherson struts and coil springs (f), torsion beam axle and coil springs (r)
Disc assemblies (f), drum assemblies (r), ABS, ESC
Curb Weight: 2,804 lb
Peak Power: 115 hp @ 5200 rpm
Peak Torque: 125 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
0-60 mph: 11 sec.
Top Speed: 120 mph