2020 Manual VW Jetta S in America: A teen's rating.
How does this car stack up in the teen world?
Today is a big day for me. As I'm writing this, it's about an hour since I passed my drivers test and recieved my license. And I've been waiting to get my license all summer long, and now I can, since I just turned 16 yesterday. The car I decided I wanted to get was a VW Jetta, mostly because they're sold with the option to have a manual transmission. Originally I was thinking of buying a Nissan Leaf, for the sole reason of cheap ownership cost (no petrol payments). But then I found out they have less range than what I could do on foot in a day, so I went for the Jetta. I was working all summer long to buy one, and I bought it in early July.
Not a bad looking front end.
After owning it for 2 months, I can say it definately satisfies my needs. It's not terribly quick, so it's good for a teen that shouldn't be going fast. It only has about 150 hp. It does the speed limit without breaking a sweat, it's fun to drive (if you live in America and are not used to driving a manual), and it gets really good mileage. It also has seating for 5, a big boot with seats that fold down, Apple CarPlay, and even a spring-loaded boot lid, which is the best of both worlds of the bootlid. It opens on its own (faster than a power liftgate), and you can slam it shut yourself.
The cockpit. 6 speeds of driving plea- actually, just driving.
No power seats here, by the way.
The seats are very comfortable. They're not luxury tier, but for a car that I bought for $18k, it meets the standards. Tl;DR: the seats do not feel like bricks.
Despite this car being FWD, there's still a hump. Any guesses why that would be?
I haven't ridden in the back yet (hell, I've only been in it when it wasn't being driven by me once), so I don't actually know what the ride feels like there. But my friends seem to like it, and sitting back there's a fair amount of leg room, as long as the person in the seat in front of you is a life sized fridge magnet (Eg: Richard Hammond). One complaint I have is there are no proper rear cup holders. You have the circular pocket in the door, but that's all you get.
An awesome audiobook... Oh yeah, it has CarPlay.
Sitting in the driver's seat doesn't make me feel like a medieval tramp. You have a 5" centre display compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink (whatever that is). You also get AM/FM radio, an SD card slot (for music), and USB-C ports. The S trim doesn't have satnav (unless you use CarPlay/AA), but higher trim levels do have satnav. There are voice controls, I've never really checked if the car has its own controls, but when you have a phone connected, holding the VOICE button on the centre display or the steering wheel will activate your voice assistant (ie Siri, Google Assistant, or... Bixby, probably)
In the centre console, you have 2 buttons, the electronic parking brake (what was wrong with a handbrake?) and the toggle for the eco button. Within those buttons, you have your gearstick, The Jetta has a 6-speed transmission, with the reverse being left and up. The shifter is pretty easy to operate, and I never accidentally put it in the wrong gear. Below the gear selector is the vertically arranged cup holders, which are an issue for me. If I have a big cup (ie: an XL), I kind of have to reach around it to get to the stick. You COULD just put the cup in the door cupholder, but they're not as stable as the centre cupholders.
That's a big boot...
I already talked about the seating, but the storage space is great. I've never actually had to use much of it, but if I need more, the seat flip down tabs (located at the top of the boot) unlock the seats, making them fold down.
Not something you'll have to see too often. It's even got the little hole for holding the filler cap!
The Jetta is rated for 30 MPG (US) in the city, and 40 on the motorway. Personally, I always get more than 40 when I'm on the motorway. And in the city, I usually get around 33. The Jetta has a ~13.2 gallon fuel tank, so Volkswagen says you can go 449+ miles on a tank. This great fuel economy comes from a 1.4-litre turbocharged inline-4 engine.
Damnit Myrtle, what does this pedal do?
This car is a car you could drive pretty much any day of the week. The clutch isn't too heavy, and the shifter doesn't take the might of a thousand gods to change gear. First gear is a bit jumpy if you're not on the throttle, but all of the other gears deliver the power to the road nicely. Also, when you lift off the clutch, it revs the engine to around 1,100 revs, so if you let the clutch up at the right speed, you can take off without touching the throttle. I'm not sure if every manual does that, but I'm pretty sure the Z4 I learned to drive manual in didn't have that.
That's as cinematic as it gets, this isn't a Lambo.
As a teen, I approve of this car. However, at $18,000, you might not wanna buy one without getting some help from dad, or saving up over a few years. And more advice: buy used if you can. I bought mine used with ~100 miles. It's cheaper that way.