The eco-jet you wished for

Written by Vikram Chaudhary | Updated: Sep 29 2012, 06:43am hrs
In a market such as India, it makes more sense to have both petrol and diesel variants of a car in your armoury. After all, despite the mass appeal for diesel cars, there are always some people around who understand that if the cars usage is relatively low, petrol makes more sense to own and operate, primarily because the initial cost and servicing of a petrol vehicle is generally on the lower side than a diesel.

If we look at the executive segment (roughly R13-17 lakh), we see that the cars which are among the best-sellers (Toyota Corolla, Skoda Laura, Hyundai Elantra) come with both fuel options. Volkswagen Jetta, too, has been making a mark in this segment but the absence of an exciting petrol option did elicit a query or two by the car enthusiasts. And Volkswagen has answered the same by coming up with the Jetta 1.4 TSI petrol.

Now, the Jetta was always an able carthe owners loved features such as space, comfort, ride, handling, equipment, ageless looks and the Volkswagen class the car offered. With petrol, refinement has been added to the list.

The 1.4 TSI unit is basically a 1390cc, four-cylinder petrol engine that produces a maximum power of 90Kw@5000rpm (122bhp) and a maximum torque of 200Nm@1500-4000rpm. It come with six-speed manual transmission gearbox (no automatic option, though). It must be kept in mind that in the current market scenario, fuel efficiency has become extremely crucial for every customer. Thats among the reasons Volkswagen has considered the 1.4 unit rather than hugely exciting 1.8 TSI (which powers the Laura) that Indians are aware of and love. Fire the engine and you will see that it is quite refined and, once you close all windows, the cabin goes pin-drop silent. Shift into the first gear, let go off the clutch, and the engine responds slowly until it reaches 1500rpm. After which it really picks up pace and continues until 5500rpm. So, while the highway manners of the Jetta are quite refined and the car feels peppy, driving within the city means shifting down every time the engine drops below 1500rpm so that you can keep up with the traffic. But because the clutch is quite light and gear-shift smooth, frequent gear-shifts dont reflect into discomfort. The car comes with six gears, and although you will barely use the sixth during city driving, it works very well on the highwaysa speed of 80-90kmph in sixth gear results into exceptional fuel efficiency.

The Jetta has always been an able handler and rides quite well. The way the car changes direction on twisty mountain roads to the way it drives on the highway at three-figure speeds and handles pot-holed roads is phenomenal.

When it comes to the cabin, the Jetta feels like a mini-Passat on the inside. The front as well as rear space is quite generous; the rear seating position, in fact, is better than most cars in its class. The plastic quality is very good and fit & finish is typically Volkswagen. Although you will miss equipment such as powered front seats, climate control, rear parking camera, sunroof as an option, etc, what you are ensured of is enhanced safety (the car comes with six airbags and ESP) and a very quiet cabin.

With the petrol Jetta, Volkswagen has answered the calls of those customers who were looking for a decent, value-for-money petrol performer from the German brand. And though it is not the most powerful car in its class, nor it might turn out to be the most fuel-efficient in real-life driving conditions, but the petrol Jetta does make for a good option for people who value quality and who dont drive long distances regularly. It is priced at R13.6 lakh (Trendline) and R15.07 lakh (Comfortline), ex-showroom, Delhi.