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2020 Volkswagen Jetta review: Spacious and mature, but hardly exciting – Roadshow

The Jetta’s styling is clean and simple. Craig Cole/Roadshow Cars don’t get much more middle-of-the-road than the Volkswagen Jetta. Mature looking and spacious inside, it’s as sensible as a pair of sweatpants, if not quite as comfortable.  LikeExcellent real-world fuel economySpacious backseat and trunkSolid infotainment system Don’t LikeOccasional low-speed stumbleEngine gets winded easilyPark-bench front seats…

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The Jetta’s styling is clean and simple.
Craig Cole/Roadshow
Cars don’t get much more middle-of-the-road than the Volkswagen Jetta. Mature looking and spacious inside, it’s as sensible as a pair of sweatpants, if not quite as comfortable. 

LikeExcellent real-world fuel economySpacious backseat and trunkSolid infotainment system

Don’t LikeOccasional low-speed stumbleEngine gets winded easilyPark-bench front seats

The Jetta migrated to VW’s ubiquitous MQB architecture last year, a platform that underpins a huge range of vehicles in the Volkswagen Group automotive empire, from the Golf hatchback to various Audis, Seats, Škodas and more. This foundational shift allowed engineers to give the car a longer wheelbase, plus increase its width and height, all while reducing the front overhang for more attractive proportions, though the grille… yeah, it’s got a lot of grille.Aside from better looks, these changes also increased cabin space. Passenger volume now clocks in at 94.7 cubic feet, while the trunk measures a generous 14.1. This means the Jetta is roomier than the Toyota Corolla and Mazda3 sedan, though the Honda Civic and Nissan Sentra are slightly more capacious according to the spec sheets, but in normal use you’re not likely to notice a difference. 

There’s plenty of room for legs and heads in this car’s backseat, plus the lower cushion and backrest are both comfortably angled. When lowered, the fold-down center armrest is also at the same level as the door-panel armrests, a thoughtful touch that further enhances comfort.Heated outboard rear seats are another nice amenity, one that’s standard on SEL and SEL Premium models, but optional on SE and R-Line variants. Curiously, my top-of-the-line tester still lacks air vents for passengers in steerage despite there being an obvious place for them. Like an off-putting but hard-to-trace odor emanating from some forgotten corner of your refrigerator, there are other little whiffs of cost-cutting in the Jetta. There’s only a single seatback storage pocket, for instance. The car also lacks a capless fuel filler, there’s no latch on the front center armrest, nor does it ratchet and lock in different positions like they used to in older Volkswagens. Even the volume knob looks like the result of one too many pinched pennies, its on/off graphic turning so it’s almost never aligned perfectly, something that will drive detail-oriented people nuts.

There are far worse places to spend time than in this Volkswagen’s cabin.
Craig Cole/Roadshow
Similarly, some of the Jetta’s secondary controls feel flimsier than a mud hovel in a hurricane, like the climate-control dials and headlight switch. Still, other buttons are super nice, like the rock-solid ignition switch and the drive-mode selector. 

The Jetta’s front seats are flat and broad, far too sprawling for someone as emaciated as me, though most people will probably find them quite accommodating. In my SEL Premium Jetta, leather is standard. It looks great and feels nice to boot, though most models in the range feature leatherette seating surfaces, while the entry-level S variant comes with cloth. My car’s front chairs are heated and ventilated, too, making the Jetta an appealing choice every season of the year. The steering wheel will also keep your hands warm at the push of a button.Complimenting the handsome leather is a smattering of soft plastics. Upper portions of the Jetta’s dashboard and front door panels are nicely textured and plush when you prod them. Some of the interior’s rigid polymers aren’t quite as attractive, but you can’t expect Kobe beef on a bologna budget.In-car tech is one of the Jetta’s highlights. 
Craig Cole/Roadshow
The star of this Vee-Dub’s cabin is the infotainment tech. SEL Premium models feature a standard Discover Media system with an 8-inch touchscreen and integrated navigation. (Lesser models come with a 6.5-inch screen, though all feature standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.) This infotainment offering is snappy and intuitive. Swipe through its various screens and everything responds promptly. Pinch-to-zoom on the map works reasonably well, too. It’s not the fastest or smoothest, but neither is it like photo enhancing in the movie Blade Runner. Overall, this infotainment system is better than what Honda and Toyota are doing these days, and it’s at least as good as Hyundai and Kia’s latest offerings.In addition to that touch-enabled panel, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit is included on SEL Premium Jettas as well, which replaces traditional instruments with a reconfigurable 10.25-inch screen. Clear, crisp and surprisingly free of glare, this is one of the nicer offerings of its type available today, certainly in the Jetta’s class.If you can swing the monthly payment, SE models and above come with some standard kit you’re sure to love, features like dual-zone climate control, keyless entry with pushbutton start and a sunroof. SEL and SEL Premium variants are also graced with a Beats Audio system and ambient interior lighting, among other things. Forward-collision warning and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are standard across the range, save for the base model, where it’s optional. A responsive and smooth adaptive cruise control system, plus lane-keeping assist and automatic high beams are standard on the top two trims. This 1.4-liter engine punches well down low and is super efficient, but its enthusiasm wanes at higher speeds.
Craig Cole/Roadshow
If the Jetta’s sterile exterior styling weren’t enough warning that it’s a no-fun zone, what’s under the hood will broadcast that loud and clear. All versions of this car are propelled by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine. With a turbocharger, direct fuel injection and a cleverly designed air-to-water intercooler built right into the intake manifold, it delivers a modest 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Two transmissions are available. In the entry-level S and midrange R-Line models, a six-speed stick is standard for three-pedal fun. If you’d rather not row your own, simply shell out an additional $800 for the available eight-speed automatic. That’s just one Ben Franklin per forward gear, an exceedingly reasonable price. Naturally, my SEL Premium tester comes standard with that auto-magic gearbox. It’s mild-mannered and prompt, leaving little to complain about. It does what it needs to without drawing attention to itself.  

Mostly smooth, the Jetta’s engine operates in hushed tones. This car is by no means a rocket, but low-speed acceleration is quite good thanks to a generous slathering of torque that’s all-in at just 1,400 rpm. Unfortunately, it gets pretty winded at speeds past about 50 mph. Overtaking on the highway or even on secondary roads is slower than I’d like. If you want real performance, go get a Jetta GLI. It’s powered by a lovely 2.0-liter engine with 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.On multiple occasions while driving, I notice a slight stumble or sag. It happens when the car is just barely moving and it feels like the engine is cutting out for a split second, which is quite undesirable. At least the Jetta’s real-world fuel economy is stellar. In mixed driving it’s returned better than 38 miles per gallon without even trying. According to the EPA, it’s only supposed to average 34, a figure derived from its city rating of 30 mpg and its highway score of 40. Around town, engine stop-start undoubtedly helps goose those numbers. This feature is both smooth and swift, so there’s nothing to complain about here.The Jetta’s steering is pretty forgettable. It evinces no bad habits but neither does it wow you with telepathic crispness. The car’s ride is a bit stiffer than I expected, too. It’s not harsh or clopping, rather, a dense feeling, kind of like the wheels are made of concrete.What do you think of the Jetta’s conservative design?
Craig Cole/Roadshow
The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta is offered in five grades: S, SE, R-Line, SEL and SEL Premium. An optionless entry-level variant with a six-speed manual transmission goes for a little less than $20,000, including $920 in destination fees. That should make it the most affordable VW offered in America. My zenith-trim model checks out for $28,865, a not-unreasonable figure for a generously sized sedan with some pretty appealing features. Further enticing value-minded drivers, it comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty and free scheduled maintenance for the first two years or 20,000 miles.The Jetta is a good car, but I don’t get the impression VW is swinging for the fences with this product. Sure, it’s spacious and wrapped in grown-up styling, but in some ways it feels unremarkable. I’d take one over the Toyota Corolla or Subaru Impreza, but it’s not quite as comprehensively excellent as a Honda Civic or Mazda3.

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2021 Ferrari Roma first drive review: Good feel, bad touch – Roadshow

It’s a defining moment in any blessed auto enthusiast’s life: the first time they get to stab at the big, red Engine Start button on a Ferrari and take it for a drive. I still remember my first time fondly, and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of doing so yourself, I imagine it’s a…

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It’s a defining moment in any blessed auto enthusiast’s life: the first time they get to stab at the big, red Engine Start button on a Ferrari and take it for a drive. I still remember my first time fondly, and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of doing so yourself, I imagine it’s a moment that is similarly revered. If so, cherish that moment, because if the 2021 Ferrari Roma is any indication, it’s a simple action that is now obsolete. You see, the Roma doesn’t have a big, red Engine Start button. It doesn’t have a button to start the engine at all, done away with in favor of a new steering wheel riddled with capacitive touch-sensitive pads. That, as it turns out, is not only a bit sad, it’s a big mistake. 

The Roma is the latest model in Ferrari’s stable, and it’s also among the cheapest — actually, make that least expensive — ways to get yourself a ticket into the Scuderia, with a starting price of $222,420, including $3,750 for destination. (The lovely Blu Corsa example you see pictured here has enough visual and functional options to drive its price up to $316,240.)It’s also among the most svelte and, in my humble opinion, perhaps the best looking of the modern Ferraris. It’s certainly the most distinctive, with a sharp, low nose and a pair of headlights squinting out on either end of a unique, body-colored grille that’s a matrix of ever-widening holes. The rear, though, is even more of a departure from prior Ferraris. It’s understated and a bit plain compared to the nose but punctuated by four, smallish taillights integrated into a diminutive spoiler. Only the quad exhaust pipes and the oversized, raw carbon diffuser are typical Ferrari. Well, and the prancing horse badging. Not your typical Ferrari interior, and a somewhat problematic steering wheel.
Tim Stevens/Roadshow
To see the biggest changes of all, though, you’ll need to sit inside. The Roma has the same abbreviated two-plus-two layout as the Portofino — that is to say it’ll seat two with comfort and an additional two with discomfort — but despite those cars sharing a platform and an engine, there’s more different here than there is similar. So much so that it’s hard to know where to begin, but I’ll start with the new infotainment system, which looks like a chonky tablet wedged between the seats. It’s not dissimilar in size and placement from what you might expect in a McLaren, its functions primarily for HVAC and also multimedia. This means the passenger can actually cue up some tunes, something that isn’t so easy to do in the F8 Tributo, for example. 

Beneath that screen rests a gear selector that’s cheekily styled to look like a gated shifter of yore, but is actually a row of three switches used to activate reverse and to switch between manual and automatic shifting. This is the same design found on Ferrari’s other new car, the SF90 Stradale. Appropriate, since the Roma and the SF90 share a transmission. It’s an eight-speed, dual-clutch unit that’s lighter than the seven-speed unit found in the Portofino. The engine, though, is the same basic lump. Ferrari’s 3.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 produces 612 horsepower and 561 pound-feet of torque in the Roma, which is slightly more than what you get in its other applications and here exclusively driving the rear wheels. Those wheels are situated just as far apart as they are on the Portofino, but the Roma is almost three inches longer and about two inches wider. Crucially, it’s also some 200 pounds lighter, weighing 3,461 pounds. All this conspires to create a car that is somehow comfortable and touring-friendly yet sprightly and nimble. On the highway, the Roma is quite comfortable, its ride more pleasantly damped than you’d expect given the ultralow-profile 245/35ZR20 front and 285/35ZR20 rear tires. Likewise, the steering isn’t quite so manic as that of the F8 and even the brake pedal has a relatively long, easy-to-modulate throw that makes tootling through stop lights a nausea-free affair for your passengers. There’s a generous amount of headroom, a decent-sized trunk and really only a bit of a droning exhaust note mars the touring experience here. The Roma gives up nothing compared to more touring-focused sports cars like the Aston Martin DB11, for example.There’s even a decent trunk.
Tim Stevens/Roadshow
This is even a Ferrari with a modicum of active safety features, including adaptive cruise control and a lane-departure warning system. Mind you, there’s no active lane-keep assist here, just an obnoxious beep whenever you stray anywhere near the lines at the edge of your lane, something you might be apt to do when driving a new Ferrari on a twisty road. “So, just disable the system,” I hear you saying, but there’s a problem: You can’t do that while you’re moving. You need to stop the car before you can gain access to the various menus required to do such a thing. And that takes me to the worst part of this car: the interface. The Roma borrows the same capacitive-touch steering wheel found in the SF90. Usually, when a more attainable Ferrari shares a wheel with a racier one it’s a positive thing, a standout touchpoint that makes it feel more special. Here, that touchpoint has the makings of a disaster movie.This new wheel takes the same approach as other modern Ferraris, cramming the most important controls all onto the wheel. I really like how this works in other cars, like the F8 or 488 before it. But I hate how it’s done here. Many of the formerly tactile controls have been replaced by a series of touch-sensitive areas. This covers everything from that engine starter — now accomplished by double-tapping the bottom of the wheel — to scrolling through the car’s various menus. Some problems are subtle, like the lagging response from the thumb controller that always has me scrolling past the menu item I want. Other problems are more serious, like the placement of the touch control that triggers the in-car voice assistant. Positioned directly beneath the left turn signal, it’s not a question of if you’ll hit this accidentally but rather when and how often. In my approximately six hours spent behind the wheel of the Roma I accidentally triggered the voice assistant eight times. Yes, I counted. 

Tim Stevens/Roadshow
Even at the best of times the integrated voice system is sluggish. I have to say “find me a restaurant” twice, once to toggle over to the navigation interface and a second time to actually search the restaurants. The overall process takes 30 seconds. On my Android phone, the same search takes less than five. And that irritating lane-keep beeping? The setting to adjust that is buried in a few of those annoying submenus, locked while the car is in motion. Changing the following distance of the adaptive cruise also requires digging a whopping three submenus deep. This is neither easy to do while driving nor intuitive. 

This kind of performance would be unacceptable on a $200 budget tablet. This is a $200,000 Ferrari.   

Those menus are displayed on the wide, curved virtual gauge cluster that sits behind the steering wheel and, at first glance, is quite striking. You’ll quickly realize it’s also quite sluggish, the different panes stuttering as they lazily make their way across the display. This is the kind of performance that would be unacceptable on a $200 budget tablet. This is a $200,000 Ferrari. Ferrari assures me that a software update is coming before this car will be shipped to customers, and hopefully that will fix the performance-related woes and maybe clean up the menus, too. I don’t see how the company is going to solve the issue of the placement of the voice assistant control, however, without some sort of redesign.It’s a special thing.
Tim Stevens/Roadshow
Thankfully, there’s one, still physical, control that works exactly as intended: the little red manettino on the steering wheel that cycles through driving modes. I sadly spend a disappointing amount of time in Rain, as much of my experience was in the midst of a torrential downpour, not to mention awful traffic. But when I finally find some clear roads, toggling over through Sport and into Race, the Roma responds just as quickly. Though the steering in Race still isn’t as flirty as the company’s more pure sports cars, it’s light and sublimely sharp, the Roma rotating effortlessly and wagging its tail with glee when accelerating out of corners. The transmission, typically sedate, becomes ferociously quick and any doubts about this car’s provenance are immediately erased. The Roma is a sublime drive when piloted aggressively and surprisingly sweet when your demands fall more on the touring side. It’s saddled with a fundamentally disappointing control interface, however, that makes the simple act of using your turn signals or adjusting the cruise following distance incredibly frustrating. This is a car that gets the hard stuff right yet sadly gets the easy stuff very, very wrong.

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NSA director and nearly all US Joint Chiefs of Staff in isolation for COVID-19

October 7, 2020 by Joseph Fitsanakis Seven of the eight members of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff —the group that brings together the nation’s most senior uniformed leaders— are in self-imposed isolation, after attending a meeting with a Coast Guard admiral who has since tested positive for COVID-19. As the list of senior…

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October 7, 2020
by Joseph Fitsanakis

Seven of the eight members of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff —the group that brings together the nation’s most senior uniformed leaders— are in self-imposed isolation, after attending a meeting with a Coast Guard admiral who has since tested positive for COVID-19. As the list of senior American government officials that are in self-imposed isolation continues to grow, it was reported yesterday that the director of the National Security Agency, US Army General Paul Nakasone, was also self-isolating until further notice.

The

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Royal Opera House’s $16.8 M. Hockney Stars in Christie’s $118 M. Paris-London Series

To get the backstory behind buyers and sellers in Christie’s Paris and London October evening sales, read Colin Gleadell’s detailed Art Market Monitor report available to AMMpro subscribers. On Thursday, Christie’s brought in a total of £90.3 million ($118 million) with buyer’s premium across four sales at its Paris and London headquarters. In the auction series,…

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To get the backstory behind buyers and sellers in Christie’s Paris and London October evening sales, read Colin Gleadell’s detailed Art Market Monitor report available to AMMpro subscribers.
On Thursday, Christie’s brought in a total of £90.3 million ($118 million) with buyer’s premium across four sales at its Paris and London headquarters. In the auction series, titled “20th Century: London to Paris,” the house deployed the live-streamed format, with Christie’s France president Cécile Verdier and its Europe president Jussi Pylkkänen at the helm.

The total hammer price was £77.9 million ($101.9 million), landing at the low end of the pre-sale estimate of £76 million ($99.4 million). With premium, the sales generated a total £90.3 million ($118.4 million), achieving a solid 84 percent sell-through rate.

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Still unable to host large live audiences, auction houses have engineered new set-ups that focus attention on the bidding dynamic across specialists and auction staff—which acts as a way to inject tension without the energy of a salesroom packed with buyers. Typically, there are more than 100 guests at a Christie’s sale of this kind; last night, there were eight live guests in the room according to Pylkkänen, who led the London auction.
In a post-sale press conference, Christie’s representatives said that the format—which was once unconventional, and is now becoming the norm—holds out promise for the future. “It’s about creating bridges across our selling centers,” Pylkkänen said. “The vocabulary of the art market has changed fundamentally.”
“We know it’s a difficult moment—it’s a challenging market,” said Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti. “We need to be creative by buildings sales that are selective…. Creativity is key in this market.”
The Paris sale hammered around the low estimate of at £15.52 million ($20.3 million), or £17.1 million ($22.4 million) with buyer’s fees. A guaranteed painting by centenarian abstract artist Pierre Soulages hammered at £4.5 million ($5.9 million), below the low estimate of £6 million ($7.1 million). A 1968 abstraction by Zao Wou-Ki sold for €2 million ($2.4 million) with fees, doubling its low estimate.
The contemporary art sale in brought in a total of £49.2 million ($64.3 million), hammering at £41.3 million ($54 million), just above the low estimate of £40.9 million ($53.5 million). A Francis Bacon portrait estimated at £4 million–£6 million and an Albert Oehlen estimated at £2.5 million–£3.5 million were each withdrawn from the sale.

The top lot was Peter Doig’s Boiler Room (1993), which went to a bidder on the phone with specialist Katherine Arnold for £13.9 million ($18.2 million), hammering below the estimate of £13 million. Next was David Hockney’s commissioned Portrait of Sir David Webster (1971), which was sold by the Royal Opera House to raise funds as part of a long-term financial recovery plan. Hammering at £11 million ($14.4 million) and likely going to the guarantor, it sold for a total of £12.9 million ($16.8 million) with buyer’s premium. The third-most expensive lot was Bacon’s Study of the Human Body (1991), acquired by the seller from the estate of the artist. It sold for £5.5 million ($7.2 million) with buyer’s fees.

Titus Kaphar, Fidelity, 2010.
Christie’s Images Ltd 2000.

The house brought Marina Abramović’s The Life, a 19-minute mixed reality performance featuring the artist’s 3D digital avatar, to auction, making it the first work of its kind ever to hit the block. The private Copenhagen-based Faurschou Foundation won the piece with a hammer of £230,000 ($300,856), far below its £400,000 low estimate.
Works by market darling Titus Kaphar, who has recently seen a spike in demand following his addition to Gagosian’s roster, saw steep competition. Fidelity (2010), depicting a mummified figure and a dog, sold for £250,000 ($326,000)—double its low estimate. This week, Kaphar saw a new record at with the sale of his 2016 painting Alternate Endings for £466,200 ($604,350) at Phillips London.
A 2005 portrait by Canadian artist Steven Shearer, whose works do not come up at auction often, sold for £125,000 ($163,000). The result follows ex-Christie’s chairman Loic Gouzer’s sale of Shearer’s Synthist for $437,000 as the debut work for his members-only auction app Fair Warning in June. The previous record price for the artist was $164,014, for the work HASH, which sold at Sotheby’s London in October 2015.
Elsewhere in the sale, works by Rudolf Stingel and Anish Kapoor—whose markets have declined somewhat in recent years—failed to find buyers.
Following the contemporary sale was “Thinking Italian Art & Design,” which brought in £5.9 million with fees ($7.7 million) across 18 lots, landing well below the £9.7 million ($12.7 million) low estimate and seeing a 54 percent sell through rate. Dealer Paul Haim’s collection of large-scale sculptures totaled £18.6 million with premium ($24.3 million).

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