The compact Volkswagen Jetta has not only become the highest selling Volkswagen model ever, but it is also the top-selling European car in North America. The Jetta was originally Volkswagen’s sedan adaptation of the Golf or Rabbit, with a conventional trunk added. The car’s second and third generation models have become increasingly popular with buyers in North America. Year after year praise has been lavished upon the Jetta for the vehicle’s ride, roominess, and accommodating user-friendly cabin. This year, Volkswagen has boldly opted to restyle their most successful vehicle. A completely redesigned fourth generation Jetta is being introduced halfway through the 1999 model year. This means that both the third generation and fourth generation versions of the Jetta are being sold in 1999.
Body Styles: sedan, wagon
Engines: 1.9-liter I-4, 2.0-liter I-4, 2.8-liter V-6
Transmissions: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Volkswagen Jetta GL 2.0, Volkswagen Jetta GLS 2.0, Volkswagen Jetta GL TDI, Volkswagen Jetta GLS TDI, Volkswagen Jetta GLS VR6
The third-generation Jetta, originally introduced for the 1993 model year, has been carried over into 1999. There are now only four available trims for the third-generation Jetta: the base GL, the cost effective TDI, the well-equipped Wolfsburg, and the fully loaded GLX. Volkswagen has removed the GT, K2, and GLS trims from its lineup. The new fourth generation Jetta has a much more attractive and sophisticated look than the previous generation. Fourth generation buyers have three available trims to choose from: the GL, GLS, and GLX. The redesigned Jetta possesses increased structural rigidity for better handling with upgrades to the engine, brakes, and suspension. The new Jetta also has more standard equipment than ever before, and some stylish interior upgrades.
The 1999 Jetta’s styling is quite attractive and somewhat resembles the Passat, the Jetta’s larger sibling. The Jetta shares Volkswagen’s instantly recognizable rounded modernist shape. The vehicle rides the same 98.9-inch wheelbase platform as the new Beetle, the Golf, and Audi’s soon-to-be released TT sport coupe. Each trim is 172.3 inches in length, 68.3 inches wide, and 56.9 inches tall. Fifteen-inch tires are standard for all model trims. Each Jetta has rack and pinion steering and independent front and rear suspension.
The 1999 Jetta’s interior is very nice with textured surfaces and gauges that are rounded-off with Volkswagen’s signature red and blue backlighting. Gauges and components are logically placed. The Jetta can seat up to five occupants. The car is roomy and comfortable with plenty of front and rear headroom. Legroom in the front of the vehicle is a respectable 41.3 inches. Rear legroom can get a little tight for taller passengers at 33.3 inches. The Jetta’s interior look, and the quality of materials, makes the car look and feel more expensive than it actually is.
Performance & Handling
The1999 Jetta has precise handling. While road imperfections can be felt, comfort is never sacrificed. The car is built solidly and is practically rattle-free. That said, despite the sharpness of the new fourth-generation Jetta’s European design, some feel that the suspension is too soft. The car also leans heavily through turns and the brakes may feel a bit spongy. It is still a pleasurable luxury ride. The Jetta’s base engine is a 115-hp, two-liter inline four-cylinder. The third-generation TDI trim has a 1.9-liter, turbo charged, direct four-cylinder diesel engine with 155 lb-ft of torque at 1900 rpm for pep, cat-like movement, and way better fuel economy. Buyers can go with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for either isn’t anything to write home about on anything besides the TDI. The manual gearbox is recommended to get the most power from the four-cylinder engine. The 2.8-liter V-6 engine is the top engine of the Jetta family. The new fourth-generation Jetta has upped horsepower from 172-hp to 174-hp with eight more lb-ft of torque. The manual transmission comes standard with the automatic transmission available as an option. The 2000 Jetta GLS model will showcase Volkswagen’s excellent 150 horsepower, 1.8-liter turbo engine for those looking to bridge the gap between the economy of four-cylinder engines and the V-6 engine.
There is no NHTSA crash test rating for the 1999 Volkswagen Jetta, but IIHS crash tests resulted in a five out of five rating for safety performance.
EPA Fuel Economy
Jetta GL 2.0: 24/31 mpg city/highway
Jetta GLS 2.0: 24/31 mpg city/highway
Jetta GL TDI: 42/49 mpg city/highway
Jetta GLS TDI: 42/49 mpg city/highway
Jetta GLS VR6: 19/28 mpg city/highway
- Fun to drive
- Solidly built
- Very nice and quality interior
You Won't Like
- No standard CD player
- Poor gas mileage
- Prone to mechanical problems
- Lack of legroom in backseat
Not just another cute car.
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