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2016 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4L TSI First Drive

No, this isn’t going to be an article about the Volkswagen #dieselgate scandal. No, I’m not going to lambast the company and chastise them for lying to the public, and I’m also not going to defend them. No, I’m going to talk about the brand new 2016 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4L TSI and how good it truly is. 

Let’s all take a deep breath and look to the future and how Volkswagen is still making viable, good cars that run on regular fuel. Think we can do that for a moment? Good. 

Since the 1.4L is kicking out the 2.0L, Volkswagen is fairly certain the sales will simply transfer over to the new engine, and that would mean 20% of VW Canada sales will now be for the new 2016 Jetta with the 1.4L. That’s impressive, and a little risqué on their part. However, I think they made a massively good decision in nixing the old engine and putting in the new one. It’s quite brilliant. 

No more 2.Slow, I mean 2.0L 
Let’s start with some fabulously good news: the 2.0L engine is no more! Rejoice; break out the streamers and the bottles of bubbly! It’s been a long, long, long, long time coming, but it’s finally happened. Volks has ditched the much-lamented 2.0L engine and replaced it with a peppy 1.4L that’s really and truly leagues ahead. 

Since it is one of the most interesting updates on the 2016 VW Jetta, let’s start with the engine. The new 1.4L TSI is a pleasure to drive, and is not at all slow. Even though it’s a smaller displacement, the new turbocharged mill pumps out 35 more horsepower (150 total) and 59 more torques (184 lb-ft). And it’s evident when you’re behind the wheel. Power is sent to the front wheels and can be controlled via a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic. 

I took to the streets with the automatic transmission, and was pleasantly surprised. On twisty, hill-y country roads, the 1.4L TSI was easy to manipulate and the transmission played nicely with the engine never tripping up and keeping in the right gear at all times. Shifts were smooth, and the engine even sounded a bit sporty. Of course, there is an “S” option on the shifter, and selecting that will simply ensure gears are held longer for a sportier feel. I’d recommend leaving it in drive and just having a good time, it’s pretty much a guarantee. 

Inner growth and development 
Sometimes it’s the internal changes that matter the most. In fact, most of the time it’s our inner growth and development that really makes the difference. 

Since 2011, the VW Jetta hasn’t seen a huge number of upgrades or changes. Exterior bits were modernized and made more aesthetic, and since ’11 Volkswagen has moved to an entirely turbocharged lineup, as well as upgrading the infotainment system (which I’ll get to in a moment). And for all those little tweaks and upgrades, the price of the Jetta has only gone up $120 over the original 2011 sticker price. 

So, what about that interior growth? Well, now the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta offers up Bluetooth, 4-wheel disc brakes, touchscreen infotainment, and a rearview camera as standard equipment on the base model, which (by the way) is only $15,995 (for the manual transmission). Yes, you read that correctly. You get a peppy, turbocharged, well-equipped German vehicle for well under $20k. 

Now, let’s take a moment to take in Volkswagen’s brand new infotainment system that’ll trickle across the lineup. For starters, the Jetta will have an available 6.33” colour touchscreen available (largest size, 5” is standard). There will also be an available 8” screen available on the Sportwagen/GTI/Golf models, but that’s a subject for my Golf R review… 

Size isn’t all that matters though, there’s also the usability and speed with which the system responds. In the past, Volks systems have been… shall we say, lag-tastic for lack of a better word. The delay was nothing short of infuriating. Also, there was the dislike for certain phone pairings etc. Oh, and the VW-specific dongle needed to plug in your phone to the USB port. 

Well, all that’s been solved! Volkswagen vehicles, most noteably the brand new 2016 Jetta 1.4L TSI, now feature Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/MirrorLink, as well as a stand-alone USB port so you can use your own wire to plug in your smartphone. Trust me, this is all a big deal. And it’s marvelous. 

CarPlay is a breeze to use. Simply plug in your smartphone (my iPhone6 was the phone in question) and the touchscreen in the car becomes your phone’s homescreen with a few select apps displayed. Your phone then becomes inoperable and all functions must be accessed via the car. For iPhone it means you can use Google Maps, Spotify, and you can even have the vehicle read out your text messages and send them for you too with voice recognition. It’s all very futuristic and fancy. And super easy to use. 

A new lease on life 
Despite the dark cloud that’s descended on Volkswagen recently, there are still bright patches, and one of them is most definitely the brand new 2016 Jetta 1.4L TSI. Volkswagen’s made some stellar updates that are enough to make it relevant and keep it current for the foreseeable future. They aren’t glaring changes or huge stylistic upgrades, but again it’s all enough to keep the Jetta shining despite the scandalous fog. 

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2016 Volkswagen jetta
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2016 Volkswagen jetta
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Photos:S.D'Amour
2016 Volkswagen Jetta 1.4 TSI pictures