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VW Jetta refresh coming later this year, SportWagen to become Golf model

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Volkswagen is finally set to launch its seventh-generation Golf family in the States this year, but the German automaker's stalwart Jetta sedan will be getting some love, as well. For the 2014 model year, Volkswagen launched a new 1.8-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine in its Jetta (and Passat). But here at the Chicago Auto Show, Vinay Shahani, the company's vice president of marketing, has confirmed to Autoblog that we'll be seeing an updated Jetta before the end of the year. It won't be an all-new model, however. Shahani confirms this is just the car's mid-cycle refresh, likely consisting of subtle styling tweaks and typical enhancements like new paint colors, new wheel designs and interior tweaks.

The longroof model will henceforth wear the Golf name in the States.

Shahani isn't worried about the updated Jetta cannibalizing any of the new Golf's momentum when it launches later this year. Volkswagen looks at the Jetta as a "complementary" vehicle, says Shahani, and that "hatchback [Golf] consumers rarely jump to sedans."

The MkVII GTI will be the first new model to arrive this year, followed by the regular-strength Golf, electric e-Golf, and finally, in early 2015, the Golf SportWagen. And no, we don't mean Jetta SportWagen – Shahani confirmed that the longroof model will henceforth wear the Golf name in the States, just as it does with the Variant model (shown below) overseas.

Why? Shahani says this will better position a "Golf family" of vehicles. And that makes some sense to us, considering the SportWagen will once again wear Golf-like styling. By moving the model under the Golf umbrella, there will no longer be two vastly different Jetta models to confuse the marketplace (the Jetta Sportwagen never adopted the larger bones of the North-American-specific Jetta sedan). However, given that the Jetta nameplate has historically vastly outsold that of the Golf in North America, VW will clearly have some marketing homework to do.

In addition to the standard gas-fed Golf and SportWagen, VW will offer alternative powertrains (TDI diesel and e-Golf) as well as performance versions in the form of the GTI and Golf R. Shahani even let slip that the company is evaluating the idea of branding the GTI as the "Golf GTI" in the States, as it is elsewhere, to better bring the performance model in line with this whole family concept, as well.

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