German automaker Volkswagen has had success over the years producing special editions of its vehicles, and the most popular among them have been the Wolfsburg Editions. These have always been well-received by consumers, and the “Wolfsburg” brand on even a used car has proven to be a good selling point.
By now, the VW recipe is well-established: Take a model whose sales are strong, add a group of elements that enhance its visual presentation, comfort level and sometimes even the driving-pleasure factor. Apply this marketing stratagem when the model is nearing the end of its lifespan and a totally revised new version is on the horizon. The idea is to provide an added push to sales while awaiting the new edition.
There’s no doubt it’s a reasonably successful strategy, if we go by the 2017 Jetta Wolfsburg for example. First thing you notice is the medallion attesting that this is a Wolfsburg, located on the “B” pillar and featuring a silhouette of a castle, with a wolf placed in the centre. This heraldic animal has been used a number of times by the manufacturer, and it’s a fitting one at that since the Volkswagen headquarters are at Wolfsburg, site of the spectacular Autostadt that includes different pavilions for each of the makes comprising the Volkswagen brand, as well as an imposing delivery centre.
In actuality, this city has gone by the name of Wolfsburg – loosely translated as “city of the wolf” – since 1945, before which the urban centre, created in 1938, was known as the “Stadt des KdF-Wagens bei Fallersleben”. Which meant, quite simply, “City for the production of KdF cars”, in reference to the Beetle before it attained worldwide fame. The British administrators who ran the sector after the Second World War decided to take the new name from a castle located in the region, known as…Wolfsburg. Incidentally, the castle was originally built in the 14th century and underwent a number of modifications over the years.
When trying to infuse some added value into a vehicle set to be transformed in 2018 (a timeline announced by the manufacturer), it would make little sense to invest in costly elements and major mechanical modifications. In designing this Wolfsburg edition, the brain trust at VW chose to start with a Trendline version and add several features that add up to a package offering real value, without there being anything really astounding in it.
If you opt for this version, you’ll benefit from all the Trendline has to offer, plus 16-inch alloy wheels, a mini rear spoiler, blind-spot detection, a power driver’s seat, keyless entry and push-button start, as well as some other extras that serve to make your life in it easier and more comfortable. On the other hand, there’s nothing special going on in terms of its visuals, other than the Wolfsburg emblem; the shape is the same sedate and timeless one some appreciate so enormously and others decry as hopelessly stuffy.
For sure, those who prize simplicity will be happy campers when they get in the new Jetta. The dashboard is sober, featuring as it does well-placed commands that are easy to reach and use, while the seats, though firm, provide impressive comfort as you rack up the kilometres. What’s more, the modest dimensions of the car belie a surprisingly liveable interior, with the back row for example providing quite generous legroom. As for the trunk, it’s relatively large for its segment.
Many of the vehicles offered as special editions tend to offer an upgraded engine setup providing above-average power. Not so with the Jetta Wolfsburg, which actually does the opposite! It’s only available with VW’s new 1.4L, 4-cylinder turbo engine. The 150 HP it produces leaves it 20 HP short of the 1.8L turbo offered with other versions. Transmission options include a 5-speed manual or a Triptonic 6-speed automatic – our road test model came with the latter box.
At first glance, the lost 20 HP of the 1.4L turbo motor would seem to represent a handicap in terms of delivering performance. But as the new motor produces torque equivalent to the 1.8L version, performance is quite acceptable, with the car able to go from a stop to 100 km/h in under 10 seconds – very adequate for a family sedan. If you’re generally in a hurry and ready to lay down more cash, the GLI and its 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds is probably more for you.
While the Jetta in its current form has been on the market since 2011, its behavior on the road and the driving experience it offers are the equal of its competitors. The car is neutral when cornering and its steering is precise. Though its sober shape and common-sense interior presentation may fail to excite, this Volkswagen is a practical car offering significant driving pleasure, its 1.4L engine able to do adequate work. One caveat is the 8.4L/100 km in fuel consumption, which seems somewhat high for an engine of this type.
So while we wait for the next iteration, the Jetta Wolfsburg offers interesting value for the price, in terms of the equipment included and the balanced driving experience it delivers. At the same time, the basic Trendline edition might do you just fine if you don’t mind foregoing the special edition and its little extras.