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Don’t Like The New Jetta? Hope That Others Do

Posted in auto industry, Promoted, Volkswagen by Kurt Ernst | January 30th, 2011 | 4 Responses |
2011 VW Jetta

Image: Volkswagen

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.

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4 Responses

  1. Jen says:

    That response is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. When I heard they lowered the price of the Jetta I took a look at it but the decontenting is obvious. I have never been in a previous-gen model but just comparing what you get (even in the most fully-loaded model) to the competition made me drop it from my list with haste (not to mention the yawn-inducing “styling”). I know their leadership wants to sell a huge number of VWs but this is not the way to do it.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Jen, the last generation Jettas had really nice interiors; think one notch down from Audi, and you get the idea. The new Jettas are filled with cheap, hard plastic, guaranteed to squeak and rattle as soon as the temperature gets cold. Or hot.

      It’s one thing to target competitors like Hyundai on price, but if you can’t match their quality then you won’t out-sell them. I agree that VW is about to learn a hard lesson about U.S. consumers.

  2. eddie_357 says:

    i honestly think vw is missing the the mark.people that i know who drive the jetta are status driven.i feel sorry for the current jetta owners.i test drove a golf gti and almost bought it,and iam glad i didnt after reading right here on ride lust that they didnt bring over the scirocco here was it might take sales away from the gti.good bye VW.

  3. BigRuss says:

    the last generation of the Jetta was loaded with options you could sit there and make the car YOURS, i checked out the VW website last night and it seems like VW is making their cars like they did back in the 50’s-70’s… it kind sucks now because i was looking forward to checking out the TDI Jetta