Tuesday, October 4, 2022
First Reviews 2022 Volkswagen Jetta First Drive Review: Always Refined, Now More Efficient

2022 Volkswagen Jetta First Drive Review: Always Refined, Now More Efficient

The Volkswagen Jetta maintains its course as an affordable compact and premium sedan


  • The 2022 Jetta is priced at $22,895. The GLI starts at $31,895.

  • This is the MK 7.5 or facelifted 7th generation Jetta.

  • The “regular” Jetta gets a new turbocharged 1.5-litre engine.


Let’s not kid ourselves. Volkswagen says that cars are still important to them, this after killing the Golf and some other car, the Passat I think it was called, for North America. Yes, I’m still bitter about the Golf’s passing but the revised for 2022 Jetta almost forgives them. Almost.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The fact is that the Jetta nameplate still ranks as the most recognizable is Volkswagen’s product lineup in the US and Canada – I suspect they avoided questioning brand enthusiasts… No matter what, the Jetta was, for a good while, the best-selling vehicle for the German automaker, at least until the Tiguan 2 (from MY 2018 here) came on the scene.

Despite being part of a slowly-dying segment, the Jetta continues to be a strong seller, besting the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport in the US so far this year. Based on the 2020 and 2021 numbers, it seems as though the Taos is cannibalizing Jetta sales but that’s why the small SUV is here: To give Golf and Jetta owners an SUV alternative.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Even if the odds are somewhat stacked against the Jetta, Volkswagen has done anything but call it quits on the sedan. The current 7th generation car was launched for the 2019 model year and even when faced with slowing sales, they’ve made some serious improvements.


New 1.5T

2022 Volkswagen Jetta | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The major bit of news comes from the ousting of the turbocharged 1.4-litre engine and replacing it with the Taos’ boosted EA211 1.5-litre 4-cylinder engine. It produces 158 horsepower (up 11 from the 1.4) and 184 lb.-ft. of torque and can be fitted to a 6-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic transmission.

The extra power isn’t entirely noticeable as the torque, unchanged, is really why the Jetta feels punchy off the line. That, and the turbocharger’s variable turbine geometry. Although torque comes in 350 rpm later than the 1.4T, the near-complete absence of lag fully negates power delivery delays. Fast, the Jetta is not, but it is incredibly efficient. Not matter the transmission, the Jetta is expected to return an average of just under 7L/100km in mixed driving.

2022 Volkswagen Taos Review: This is Your New Golf


Still a wonderful cruiser

Where the Jetta shines brightest is while cruising. Many know-it-alls still scoff at rear torsion-beam suspension configurations but the reality the layout is simpler and lighter than a multi-link setup, and it more than does the job.

With the Jetta, the task at hand is comfort, poise, surefooted handling, and the chassis delivers brilliantly. The Jetta is incredibly refined without being “soft” or compromising steering inputs – the Jetta is as responsive as ever.


Mild visual changes

2022 Volkswagen Jetta | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Visually, the MK7.5 Volkswagen Jetta gains subtle styling updates. Namely, the front grille and bumper are changed for a slightly squatter and more aggressive presence. The rear bumper is different and there are new wheels and colours on offer. Changes onboard are subtle as well. The big updates are the standard digital cockpit, a heated steering wheel, improved cloth seats, and standard contrast stitching.


G L I

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI returns for the 2022 model year, and it is as competent as ever. It’s also value-packed, something that isn’t typically associated with Volkswagen vehicles.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Back for an encore is the GTI-sourced EA888 turbocharged 2.0-litre engine that continues to generate 228 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft of torque. To this mill can be attached either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic transmission. This amount of power makes for a very entertaining and satisfying getaway car. And I’d like to take a moment and give props to the 35% of GLI buyers who still opt for the manual transmission.

The GLI gets similar exterior visual upgrades as the “regular” Jetta while the cabin receives perforated leather seats, an MK8 GTI-sourced steering wheel, new shifters, and more.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

What remains brilliant about the Jetta GLI is its breadth of abilities. Thanks to the standard Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) with adaptive dampers, the GLI can be smooth and comfortable, or extremely sharp at the touch of a button or two. This sedan is as cossetting as the Jetta despite riding about 15mm lower but then, VAQ limited-slip differential and XDS, it will carve any all apexes thrown at it, and the more the merrier.


The new Jetta

In this segment, the Jetta goes up against the perennial Honda Civic, the Toyota Corolla, the Hyundai Elantra and a few more. With its improved efficiency, vast interior, high level of features and average ownership costs (true story), the Jetta should make your top three compact-car shopping list. The only exception would be if you’re looking for AWD.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

It is and will continue to be difficult to take any lustre off the new 11th generation Civic, that is, unless you’re thinking about a Civic Si. The $31,895 ($33,295 with DSG) 2022 Jetta GLI is more powerful, better equipped (DCC among other bits), and almost $2,000 less expensive than the Honda. The only sedan here that ends nearly all arguments is the Subaru WRX with more power, AWD, and extra cladding.

2022 Volkswagen Jetta | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2022 Volkswagen Jetta | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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