You begin the Volkswagen Jetta Sport with a key. Bear in mind these? Ignition keys are to vehicles what snail mail is to e mail: so final century. That key says lots about what to anticipate from this model of VW’s compact sedan too. It is a easy, primary, and easy vehicle. Nothing fancy right here. However on condition that this Jetta additionally comes with a six-speed handbook gearbox, a Sport badge caught to its B-pillars, and a surprisingly low MSRP, we felt compelled to search out out if it is a budget-priced GLI—a sports activities sedan we now have greater than slightly affection for.
The Sport suits into the Jetta lineup one up from the bottom S, a modest $900 upcharge to a really affordable $22,650 beginning worth, some $10,030 lower than a GLI. Within the Sport’s case, primary does not imply completely bereft, although. The Sport comes with a good quantity of kit. Its commonplace 17-inch alloy wheels and the LED headlights and taillights on all Jettas hold it from trying like a penny-pincher from the skin.
There is not any mistaking that the Sport’s roomy inside is outfitted to a worth, nonetheless. It is effectively assembled and there are just a few niceties available, such because the 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster, a pair of entrance USB ports, and enticing fabric seats. However onerous plastic abounds, the usual HVAC system is manually managed, the entrance seats lack bun heaters, and the tiny 6.5-inch infotainment display screen is a glance again in time. As a result of it is not VW’s newest touchscreen system, although, it does no less than characteristic each a easy person interface and quantity and tuning knobs. Our take a look at automobile had however one choice, the $955 Driver Help package deal, which provides adaptive cruise, rain-sensing wipers, a number of driver-assist options, and a satisfyingly thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed, leather-covered steering wheel.
That steering wheel is sort of as good because the one within the GLI, and it’s the sportiest factor concerning the Sport. No worries, although. This can be a pleasant, pleasantly refined automobile. It begins, actually and figuratively, with the Sport’s engine, a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that develops 158 horsepower at 5500 rpm. It keys to life with a quiet hum that hardly rises above a whisper, is clean throughout the total sweep of the tach, and makes the Sport really feel costlier than it’s. It is no shock our six-speed handbook automobile’s straight-line sprints—60 mph in 7.0 seconds and a quarter-mile in 15.5 seconds at 92 mph—aren’t any match for the 228-hp GLI six-speed’s—60 mph in 6.1 seconds and the quarter in 14.6 seconds at 100 mph. Nonetheless, not a nasty exhibiting for the Sport, because it matches the efficiency of the final Jetta computerized we examined, with a 1-mph increased lure pace within the quarter-mile.
Sadly, the Sport’s efficiency falls to its knees relative to the feisty GLI in regular city driving. Although the specs say the Sport makes its full 184 pound-feet of torque at 1750 rpm, our proper foot stated in any other case. In metropolis visitors it is simple to catch the engine napping off-boost; let the revs drop under 2000 rpm and it is as if gerbils have changed the horses underneath the hood. Flooring the accelerator has minimal impact. That shortfall of prepared torque confirmed up graphically in our top-gear acceleration take a look at the place the Sport took an interminable 28.7 seconds to go from 30 to 50 mph; the GLI did it in 12.3 seconds. The Sport does lots higher at increased engine and highway speeds, posting a 13.6-second 50-to-70-mph time to the GLI’s 8.4 seconds. It is enjoyable to maintain the engine in its perky zone because of the easy-shifting six-speed handbook. Clutch motion is gentle too, so this can be a pleasantly involving automobile to pilot, even at decrease speeds.
The Sport proves adept at the remainder of the driving expertise, if not intoxicating. A supple trip and assured steering imbue it with a surprisingly refined persona that enhances the engine’s quiet methods. Volkswagen even made some minor efforts to make it extra partaking to drive than the bottom S mannequin by reducing its suspension 15 millimeters and becoming it with a bigger entrance anti-roll bar. Whereas it is not a automobile that begs you to flog it down a two-lane, when leaned on, it stays composed. And although it will probably’t match the sharper responses of the GLI, the Sport’s 0.87-g skidpad grip is 0.01-g higher, whereas its 176-foot cease from 70 mph is just two ft longer. The limiting issue right here is that each vehicles are shod with all-season tires; a sports activities sedan just like the GLI deserves stickier rubber.
Out on the open highway, the 1.5T proves itself impressively miserly at consuming gas, with the Jetta averaging 44 mpg in our 75-mph freeway fuel-economy take a look at. That is 2-mpg higher than each its EPA freeway determine and the final Jetta computerized we examined and opens up the chance for 580 miles of freeway vary.
No, the Jetta Sport cannot fairly muster the strikes or the efficiency essential to be thought of a reduced GLI. However with a roomy rear seat, a velvety engine, and respectable highway manners, it is way over a budget-priced individuals provider. Ignition key apart, after all.
2023 Volkswagen Jetta Sport
Automobile Sort: front-engine, front-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Base/As Examined: $22,650/$23,605
Choices: Driver Help package deal (adaptive cruise management, lane-keeping system, blind-spot warning, rain-sensing wipers, leather-wrapped steering wheel), $955
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct gas injection
Displacement: 91 in3, 1498 cm3
Energy: 158 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 184 lb-ft @ 1750 rpm
Suspension, F/R: struts/torsion beam
Brakes, F/R: 11.3-in vented disc/10.7-in disc
Tires: Nexen N FERA AU7
205/55R-17 91H M+S
Wheelbase: 105.7 in
Size: 186.5 in
Width: 70.8 in
Peak: 57.7 in
Passenger Quantity, F/R: 51/43 ft3
Trunk Quantity: 14 ft3
Curb Weight: 2937 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 7.0 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.5 sec @ 92 mph
100 mph: 18.6 sec
Outcomes above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.4 sec.
Rolling Begin, 5–60 mph: 8.0 sec
High Gear, 30–50 mph: 28.7 sec
High Gear, 50–70 mph: 13.6 sec
High Pace (gov ltd): 128 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 176 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.87 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Noticed: 26 mpg
75-mph Freeway Driving: 44 mpg
75-mph Freeway Vary: 580 mi
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Mixed/Metropolis/Freeway: 34/29/42 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
Director, Purchaser’s Information
Wealthy Ceppos has evaluated vehicles and automotive know-how throughout a profession that has encompassed 10 years at Basic Motors, two stints at Automotive and Driver totaling 19 years, and 1000’s of miles logged in racing vehicles. He was in music college when he realized what he actually needed to do in life and, someway, it is labored out. In between his two C/D postings he served as govt editor of Vehicle Journal; was an govt vice chairman at Campbell Advertising and marketing & Communications; labored in GM’s product-development space; and have become writer of Autoweek. He has raced repeatedly since school, held SCCA and IMSA professional racing licenses, and has competed within the 24 Hours of Daytona. He presently ministers to a 1999 Miata and a 1965 Corvette convertible and appreciates that none of his youthful colleagues have but uttered “Okay, Boomer” when he tells one among his tales concerning the loopy outdated days at C/D.