This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the longest time, Volkswagen has defended a confident stigma amongst its leading competitors. Offering an progressive driving appeal and premium finished interior, they served as the middle ground compromise for those who didn’t want to settle for a Kia but couldn’t quite afford an Audi. Now that times have changed, nearly every other brand out there offers the same eminence interior, upgraded tech and boosted performance, so that leaves us pondering, where does Volkswagen stand in the mix?

There is a lot going on with the new Jetta, more than that meets the eye. Based on Volkswagen’s new MQB platform, the Jetta starts to share many of its underpinnings with the rest of its siblings: Golf, Tiguan, Atlas and even a couple of the smaller Audi’s. While it may share similarities in suspension, steering and chassis work – the new Jetta is very different in other ways.

Driving dynamics for starters is somewhat of an amusing one. Making due with a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Jetta is forces on using all of its 147-horsepower in a inspiring manner. Though the numbers come in small, the turbocharged engine here touches on a frisky note – it packs a delightful punch when initially setting off with, thanks to its 184lb-ft of torque. Matted to an all-new eight-speed DSG automatic, the Jetta sends a spirited sensation with a energetic snappy gear change considering it’s a dual-clutch setup.

If you prefer to shift your own gears, the Jetta S is the only available way to go to get a manual option. While, yes, our example here is the S variant, it was option out with the $800 traffic friendly lifestyle. Having been geared toward fuel efficiency, the eight-speed auto is more of an up shifter than a down shifter. Hating on the lower gears, the Jetta manages to squeeze out almost 40 mpg on the highway, at least there’s a benefit to its guise. During our duration, we saw 32.1 combined with our mixed city/highway driving – just a hair below the EPA rating.

Even though the Jetta shares similar traits to the beloved Golf, there are other scenarios where the Jetta and the Golf vary. The steering for instance, although it is light and cohesive to inputs, it doesn’t share the same boosted enthusiasm we see in the Golf. The suspension is also softer than the Golf and generates more body lean in the corners; therefore, animated driving styles is left to the main interstate than byways. However, this also means the Jetta is more comfortable over long distances and copes healthier to the road deficiencies.

Our entry level Jetta S is as low as one can go when selecting their preferred options. It is here we see that even with a starting price of $18,545 the Jetta S carries a “business as usual” conceptual outlook. Offering standard LED headlights, taillights, and 16-inch alloy wheels – the Jetta carries a level of curb appeal that would make you want to upgrade to the next SE or R-Line trim. Opting up to the next level SE will incorporate more of the consumer favored feature’s like blind spot monitoring, a panoramic sunroof, and a leatherette interior; nonetheless, that comes with a heftier $22,155 price tag.

Going with the Jetta S, it’s not like you’re left behind in modern features. It offers Apple CarPlay & Android Auto connectivity. It carries all the standard available equipment found in all modern compact cars – Bluetooth, cruise control, touch screen interface, and automatic power up/down windows all around. There is even a button on the steering wheel for the $450 Driver Assistance Package. Forfeit the package and you are stuck with a button reminding you, you cheeped out – like our example was.

Considering the Jetta’s previous demographic, the Jetta S here serves up a more real world approach. Its interior may support a less enthusiastic appeal; however, given its price point it offers all the fundamental features and textures. The dash incorporates stylish, modern elements with soft touch materials with an integrated touch screen infotainment system. The SEL model will even come equipped with the same virtual cockpit information cluster that was once an Audi’s iconic signature. 

The Jetta’s competitors may go overboard with some of its design scheme to attract a younger demographic, but as we see here, the Jetta carries a straight forward composure – everything has a place and there is a place for everything. Its comfortable interior, boosted safety features, and ergonomic scheme undercuts its its competitors pricing by several hundred dollars, giving you more bang for your buck.