This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Volkswagen Jetta (11-18) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

The engines offered in the Jetta are also to be found in the Passat and Golf. When it was launched, the petrols started with a 115bhp 1.6 FSI engine fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox. Despite its modest size, this engine is sprightly enough and will happily keep up with fast flowing traffic. At the end of 2007, it was replaced across the Volkswagen range by a 1.4 TSI.

It may be smaller, but thanks to a turbocharger produces more power with 122bhp and as a result 0-62mph takes a respectable 9.8 seconds while economy is an impressive 45mpg. A higher power 160bhp version is available and can also be specified with a seven-speed DSG semi-automatic gearbox which delivers swift and slick changes. This effectively replaced the 2.0 FSI with 150bhp which was available for a short time when the Jetta was new.

The most powerful petrol is the 2.0T FSI with 200bhp – the same engine that is used in the 2005 Golf GTI. This propels the Jetta from 0-62mph in just 7.5 seconds and is also available with a six-speed DSG gearbox. The diesel line-up starts with the latest 1.6-litre TDI – introduced in mid-2009. This is a common rail diesel which means it is much smoother and quieter than the older Volkswagen TDI units.

It has 105bhp and is reasonably punchy while economy is an impressive 60mpg. Also available is the older 1.9 TDI which is fairly noisy and unrefined. It’s frugal though and can average 54mpg plus this engine is also used in the low emissions Bluemotion model. Thanks to engine and gearbox tweaks, this averages 61mpg while emitting 122g/km of CO2. The top diesel is the 2.0 TDI but be aware that there are two different types.

The older engine is what is known as a PD – and it’s fairly noisy. A newer common rail (known as CR) diesel is also available and this is much smoother to drive with minimal vibration in the cabin, plus far less lag when pulling away from low revs. Both version of the TDI are available with either 140bhp or 170bhp. The latter manages 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds given it great pace for overtaking.

The Jetta shares many of its components with the Golf and handles in a very similar manner. It feels surefooted on demanding roads, with plenty of grip and a composed ride. It’s not the most exciting of small cars – the steering lacks a little in terms of feel, but is precise and varies in weight according to vehicle speed so it’s light when parking and heavier on the move.

An electronic stability control system is standard across the range while the manual gearchanges are smooth and precise.