Volkswagen’s new Americanized Jetta will be improved quietly over the coming year, executives from the company have told us. Some of the things we criticized when the car launched, such as the standard rear drum brakes, have already been addressed—all Jettas, regardless of trim level, now have four-wheel discs—and others are going to be dealt with soon. Interior materials should be upgraded somewhat; higher-trim-level models will switch to a soft-touch dashboard from the current hard. In the U.S., the European-grade squishy dash has been found exclusively in the Jetta GLI.
The more interesting news, though, is a probable change in the powertrain department. At present, the engine in a plurality of Jettas sold—if not the majority—is a 2.5-liter inline-five. We’ve already reported that in some VW models this engine could be replaced with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four, but it now appears that engine will only sub in for the 2.5 in larger models like the Passat. The Jetta would instead ditch its 2.5 for a new 1.4-liter turbo four.
This 1.4-liter engine was, in a way, introduced in the Jetta hybrid that debuted at this week’s Detroit auto show. Installed in that car, the turbocharged gasoline mill makes 150 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, both of which would be reasonable numbers in the middle or at the upper end of the Jetta’s segment. (The current 2.5 makes 170 hp and 177 lb-ft.) What’s more, the 1.4T ought to be significantly more efficient than the five, which earns the Jetta unimpressive EPA fuel-economy ratings of 24 mpg city and 31 highway when equipped with an automatic transmission. Competitors like the Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, and Hyundai Elantra are way ahead with highway numbers that start with a 4, and VW wants to be back in that game.
(Take note that this four isn’t related to Volkswagen’s “twincharger” engine sold in many European cars. That is also a 1.4-liter four, but comes from a different engine family and makes use of both a turbocharger and a supercharger. VW says the twincharger is far too expensive and complex to install in cars for this country.)
Although the plans to swap the 2.5 for the small turbo four aren’t yet finalized, the VW execs we spoke with seem confident that they’ll be approved. And if the engine does get wider Jetta application than the hybrid model, it’s reasonable to assume that the 1.4T would also find its way to the Golf and Beetle.
Text Source: Car & Driver