Review: Volkswagen Jetta (2006 – 2011)

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Comfortable, economical and a decent drive. The boot's so big your voice echoes. Key-lockable 60/40 folding rear seat backrest.

Unrelentingly gloomy dashboard design. Handling is okay but doesn't encourage you to hustle it.

Volkswagen Jetta (2006 – 2011): At A Glance

I have the dubious distinction of not only having owned two Atlas Grey Jettas, but of having owned them both at the same time.

One was a ‘GT', described by ‘Car' magazine as "a Golf GTI with a rucksack". We seemed to have it forever. Eventually I advertised it on my website for £150 or "free to a man of the cloth", and it reverently soldiered on in the hands of a West Country vicar.

My other Jetta was a 16v, which, in Autocar's capable hands, had actually proved to be slightly faster than the Golf 16v hatchback. 0 - 60 was just over 7 seconds, in second gear. Those old Jettas were quite raw cars. They just looked so dull that no one in a policeman's uniform ever even noticed their existence. I remember tagging a BMW 535i across Oxfordshire at 120mph. In fairness I'd better point out that the BMW was slightly handicapped by a stepladder on its roof rack. The case would never have got to court anyway because no one would have believed it. An invisible Volkswagen and a 120mph window cleaner.

Now Jeremy Clarkson has given the new Jetta his kiss of death in The Sunday Times. He could not find a single feature to redeem it, likening the prospect of a forthcoming return journey to "spending an hour in a coma". To the great man's credit he desisted from ever mentioning the name of the new Jetta's predecessor.

Actually, the Americans for whom the Jetta is built, never got a Bora. Or even a Vento. To them the new Jetta is simply the fifth incarnation of VW's Golf with a trunk, now built for them and everyone else who wants one in Mexico. JC questioned why anyone would ever want a Jetta rather than a Golf or a Passat. The answer is why Jettas, Ventos and Boras have always sold well in Europe. You can fit an LPG or CNG tank in the trunk while still leaving plenty of room for luggage.

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What does a Volkswagen Jetta (2006 – 2011) cost?

Volkswagen Jetta (2006 – 2011): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4554 mm
Width 1781 mm
Height 1459 mm
Wheelbase 2578 mm

Full specifications

As with Jettas of the past it's so cavernous you can get your voice to echo in there. It takes 529 litres, which is the equivalent of the contents of 705 bottles of wine. It's 29 litres more capacious than the old shape Mercedes S Class, and 44 litres bigger than the current VW Passat. Golfers can lay their clubs length-ways and get their trolleys in too. On top of that, the rear seat backrests not only fold down 60/40 but also are key-lockable. (Not much point in a car with a boot if the boot cannot be made secure.)

With the weather forecaster promising white-out I thought I better get the snaps done as soon as possible so took it a favourite horizon. On the way I found out it's geared about the same as my long-term 307 and C-Max but the PD injectors allow a lot more flexibility. You can get right down to 40mph in 6th at just over 1,000rpm and still pull away cleanly, whereas the 307 and C-Max aren't very happy below 55mph in 6th. And it had none of the all-or-nothing turbo surge I have sometimes experienced from VAG's 2.0 litre PD 140.

The doom and gloom dashboard is so unrelentingly black you feel like you're driving a coal face. Not as bad as Jettas used to be, though. One of mine even had a black headlining. On the other hand, the central console has so many places to put things even a pickpocket would be pushed to fill it up with the day's takings. Oddly, it also has a pair of handles. Not quite sure what they're for.

VW seems to insist on side-bolstered seats these days that serve little purpose other than to wear out and make it hard to get into the car. However, the rear seat will take three 5' 9" adults as long as they haven't been eating too many pizzas. And unlike the Lexus IS250, piggy in the middle does not have to sit with his head directly under the interior light.

Child seats that fit a Volkswagen Jetta (2006 – 2011)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Volkswagen Jetta (2006 – 2011) like to drive?

Mine came with VAG's 140PS TDI and six-speed manual. It arrived in the middle of a snowstorm, happily on ‘comfort' tyres (Michelin Energy 205/55 R16s).

Steering is very light on those Michelin Energy 205/55 R16s. Handling is okay but this is not a car that encourages you to hustle it. At normal cruising speeds it's quiet and doesn't chuck muck all over its backside like a Golf does. And it must be more aerodynamic than a Golf because I found it extremely easy to average over 50mpg, which is a lot better than the EC combined figure.

That means drivers with more time on their hands should regularly get a real world 55mpg plus. Making the Jetta 2.0 TDI probably the most economical 2.0 litre diesel you can buy.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.4 TSI 43–45 mpg 8.5–9.8 s 149–154 g/km
1.4 TSI DSG 44 mpg 8.5 s 148 g/km
1.6 FSI 41 mpg 11.1 s 165 g/km
1.6 TDI 60 mpg 12.0 s 122 g/km
1.6 TDI DSG 59 mpg 12.0 s 125 g/km
1.9 TDI 54 mpg 11.9 s 137 g/km
1.9 TDI BlueMotion 61 mpg 11.9 s 122 g/km
2.0 FSI 34 mpg 9.2 s 197 g/km
2.0 TDI 55 mpg 9.7 s 135 g/km
2.0 TDI 170 52 mpg 8.5 s 143 g/km
2.0 TDI DSG 49 mpg 9.7 s 154 g/km
2.0 TSI 37 mpg 7.5 s 181 g/km
2.0 TSI DSG 37 mpg 7.2 s 180 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volkswagen Jetta (2006 – 2011)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

29–70 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Volkswagen Jetta (2006 – 2011)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

The turbo has failed on my 12 year old car - is it worth replacing or should I just scrap the car?

The turbocharger of my 2006 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 TDI has failed and the garage want £900 to replace it. Should I go ahead? The clutch has also not been replaced and with 90,000 miles on the clock is it worth doing the repair?
Do you want to scrap the car? Renault is offering £3000 scrappage against a new Kadjar. A new clutch and dual mass flywheel will be about £1000 on top of the cost of the turbo, so if things like brakes and tyres are also on the way out it might make economic sense to get out of the car.
Answered by Honest John
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What Cars Are Similar To The Volkswagen Jetta (2006 – 2011)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Diesel engine and Small family.

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