Shown in a number of sketches in December last year, the long awaited seventh generation Jetta finally replaces the Golf 5 underpinned A6 model that debuted nearly eight years ago, and aside from moving to the Volkswagen Group's MQB platform, it also measures wider and longer than before.
Taking styling hints from the Arteon and T-Roc but also the Atlas in-line with Volkswagen's US styling language, the Jetta's interior now takes after that of the Golf and includes the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit Display as an option, a selection of new fabric choices, dual-zone climate control, choice of ten ambient lighting colours and an optional 400-watt Beats sound system.
As for driver assistance systems, either standard or optional and depending on the trim level, the Jetta can be had with Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking, High Beam Control, Automatic Post-Collision Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, Rear Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Blind Spot Monitor.
Model wise, the Jetta will be offered in five trim levels (S, SE, SEL, SEL Premium and sporty R-Line), for now all powered by a 1.4 TSI developing 110 kW and 250 Nm of torque. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard with a eight-speed Tiptronic optional. While Volkswagen has remained mum on other engine options including a TDI, a performance GLI model using the same 2.0 TSI as the Golf GTI has recently been spotted undergoing testing with a rumoured market launch of 2019.
Sales of the Jetta are expected to commence in the second quarter of the year with pricing from $18 545 (R229 401), but as indicted last year, it will not be offered in South Africa for the first time in nearly 40 years due to Volkswagen phasing out right-hand drive production.
Inspired by the GT Concept shown at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in 2016, the production Passat GT uses the top spec R-Line model as a base, but adds two-tone 19-inch Tornado alloy wheels, black honeycomb grille with red detailing, red brake calipers, black roof, mirror caps and door trim, black rear spoiler and darkened taillights, dual exhausts and a sport suspension.
Inside, the interior gets a piano key black centre console, carbon fibre look inserts, black headliner, black leatherette seats with Moonrock Grey inserts and contrasting stitching, and GT branded aluminium door sills. A 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, MirrorLink, and two USB ports are standard, with other creature comforts consisting of heated front chairs, dual-zone climate control and heated mirrors.
No changes have taken place in the switch from concept to production underneath the bonnet though, where the GT comes powered by a 3.6-litre VR6 engine producing 206 kW and 350 Nm of torque. A six-speed DSG gearbox sends the amount of grunt on offer to all four wheels via Volkswagen's 4Motion system. No performance figures were revealed.
Heading for US dealership floors in the second quarter of 2018, pricing for the Passat GT kicks-off at $29 090 (R359 843), but due to it differing from the European sourced model sold in South Africa, don't expect it to become available on local shores anytime soon.