The previous generation VW Jetta wasn’t inexpensive (especially in top trim levels), but it always felt like you were getting more for your money than you should be. It was almost like buying a Toyota Camry and getting a Lexus ES350 instead, which is one of the reasons why VW developed such a loyal following with the Jetta product line. All that changed when the new Jetta was introduced to the U.S. in 2010; suddenly, VW wanted to be a price leader, at the expense of content and refinement. I’ll admit to not disliking the new Jetta, but it’s clearly a step down in interior materials over previous generations and the Jetta currently sold in Europe. VW hopes that cost savings will draw new customers to the brand, and they’re confident that they didn’t pull too much “Fahrvergnügen” from the brand to drive away VW loyalists. What if you’re one of them, who really wants a Jetta but prefers the premium version, sold on the other side of the pond?
Inside Line recently interviewed Jetta Global Technical Project Leader Frank Donath, and the question of the up-contented Euro Jetta reared its ugly head. Donath’s response seems to leave the door open to the Euro Jetta on these shores before the middle of the decade: “There is a strong chance that the midlife Jetta for North America could get all of the European features. It depends on sales performance.” In other words, if the current models sell well, VW would consider adding select Euro Jetta models to round out the product line.
That seems counter-intuitive to me, almost like saying “we’ll add steak to the menu if the rice and beans sell well.” Volkswagen will surely attract new buyers with a sub $16k Jetta, but existing owners aren’t likely to be impressed with the new sedans. Will new customer growth offset existing customer losses? VW says yes, and those wanting the Euro Jetta in the U.S. can only hope they’re right.