If we didn't know the price of the new Jetta there is no question it would rank at the top of the compact to mid-size sedan market. While still not looking over at that big sticker price, the Mazda 3 is close in performance and fun to drive factor, even if the interior is not as elegant as the Jetta's. Now bring in that price tag and things change drastically.
However, I do see and think VW is right to move the Jetta to its current target price. There is no other car in this range $18-$27K that offers so much stuff. No one wants a stripped version, but the Package 1 option (I seriously advise VW to offer leather as a stand alone option) keeps the price under $25K and as some readers have said there are deals to be had.
My disdain for the transmission and acceleration not withstanding, the car is a blast to drive and I don?t think buyers would really grow tired of it. That?s a major statement for any car I test, especially when they?re under $30K. What really stands out is how easy the car is to live with. I got over 26 mpg with mixed driving, the rear seats fold down with one touch, all the controls are easy to use and feel great to the touch. It?s just a very nice product. Besides the seats, I?d put the interior quality a step above the Infiniti G35 I drove on my weekend getaway and it is on a par with VW sibling Audi.
You don?t get that in the Mazda 3 or the Toyota Corolla. But again that darn price tag sticks out like a thorn in your practical side. This is an interesting time in the automotive industry. We?re seeing entire new product categories that never existed before or have been absent for a long time. Besides the premium compacts, the muscle cars and the rebirth of roadsters automakers are considering once taboo vehicles like the sub-compact. So let?s not kill VW for trying to be ahead of the curve. And remember they have to think of Europe as well with this vehicle. All those thing put together make a lot of sense. Even if we can?t wrap our heads over paying $25K+ on a Jetta.