Since its first run in August 1979, the Volkswagen Jetta has lived past its reputation as a sedan version of the famous Volkswagen Golf. It has gone on to live up to its name, “Jetta,” which refers to the Atlantic jetstream—a fast flowing, narrow air current found in the atmosphere. Over 6.6 million Jettas have been sold worldwide as of 2005, and by 2011, the number has gone up to almost 10 million. Over six generations, the Volkswagen Jetta has been marketed under many names—Fox, Vento, Bora, and Jetta City, to name a few—but it has certainly taken on a unique role in the automotive world.
1979-1984: Volkswagen’s three-box vehicle
At a time when Volkswagen was naming its vehicles after prominent winds—the Passat, Bora, and Scirocco, to name a few—the Jetta was born. It was initially positioned to fill a sedan niche above the Volkswagen Golf and was actually adapted by adding a conventional trunk to the popular hatchback. Volkswagen needed a two-door saloon/sedan to replace the aging Volkswagen Beetle. It also felt a need to create a vehicle that appealed to those who preferred the three-box configuration. It had a standard 1.6 L four-cylinder engine that produced 78 hp when it was introduced, and by 1984, its GLI high-performance version made 90 hp.
1985-1991: A critically acclaimed vehicle
The second generation Jetta is the longest-running version so far. When it was released in 1985, it quickly became a bestseller for the car manufacturer. It won several awards during this period, including best-selling European car in North America by Farmers Journal COTY 1991 and surprisingly outsold the Golf by two-to-one. A major change came in the form of an increase in the interior room to 14%—this changed the vehicle’s class from sub-compact to compact.
1992-2004: Volkwagen’s savior
At a time when Volkswagen’s sales were so low that it almost decided to pull out of the North American market, sales of the Jetta became the car manufacturer’s saving grace. It continued to be the best-selling Volkswagen in the USA. The Jetta had a 1.8T engine that produced 180 hp during the end of this period, which was a 30-hp improvement over the previous 150 hp engine.
2005-present: The modern Jetta
The modern Volkswagen Jetta is known as a NCS (New Compact Sedan) and holds its own in the market with other compact cars. The model range returned to using the Jetta name on the continent, rather than Bora (in Mexico) or Vento (in Latin America). A hybrid is being planned to meet the need for people who prefer this type of vehicle.