Getting More With Less: The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T
2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T.
I have yet to see it in advertising, but Volkswagen has a new slogan on its window sticker: "Great. For the price of good." It is a summary of Volkswagen's approach the past few years, which has seen the automaker, which once charged premium prices for somewhat over-engineered German compacts, shift to simply competing with Japanese makes like Toyota, Honda and Nissan on features, content and price.

Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T
2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T
Purists decried the change, especially the somewhat more bland styling, but buyers have flocked to the brand because for them, price matters and the cars are good.  Case in point, the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T.  Here is a roomy compact sedan that seats 5, starts at $17,325 in base trim, gets four and five-star safety ratings---four for frontal cash and rollover, five for side crash---and has an EPA fuel economy estimate of 25 city/37 highway.

The stock Jetta engine generates 115 horsepower. That is 15 shy of a Nissan Sentra, 17 horsepower less than a Toyota Corolla ECO and 38 fewer than the Honda Civic.

The "T" when you step up to the 1.8T is what saves the day. It stands for "turbocharged", and it boosts the horsepower to 170. Using their normally aspirated (and less powerful) engines, those three all deliver slightly better EPA numbers---30/40 for the Sentra and Corolla, 30/39 for the Civic. The Volkswagen doesn't win the comparison on mileage numbers, but is close enough that real-world driving mileage is likely within a margin of error for all four, especially when factoring in personal driving styles.  And the turbo, once you experience it, may encourage a more aggressive driving style.

Interior view of 2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T (manual transmission shown)
2015 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8T interior (manual transmission shown).
Our test vehicle was the second-from-the-top-of-the-line SE with Connectivity and Nav.  The base price takes a significant jump to accomodate all the additional standard equipment.  The Nav is self-explanatory---satellite navigation---but the entire package encompasses a power sunroof, a touchscreen 6-speaker audio system that also houses the nav and rear-view camera, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, gearshift knob and parking brake handle, keyless entry and fog lamps.

Ours also had one option, the lighting package, which upgrades the headlights to high-intensity Bi-Xenon, adds LED daytime running lights and an adaptive front lighting system and adds ambient interior lighting.  Extra cost is $995.  With $820 destination charge, the as-tested price was $25,465. And  it's a lot of small car for the money.