Today we look at one of the more interesting additions to the VW range. The Jetta was initially based on the illustrious Golf, but didn’t hit the markets until five years after the car that inspired it.
Originally, the Jetta was aimed at more conservative customers, in particular – those in the US who found the idea of a hatchback too much of a young upstart. When it launched at the 1979 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Jetta was perhaps the first saloon-from-hatchback conversion to strike a chord with consumers and achieve genuine sales success.
Over the next few years, similar saloons would appear from companies such as Ford (with the Orion) and Vauxhall (with the Belmont). This validated Volkswagen’s decision to pursue the Golf-derived small saloon.
The Jetta came in both two and four door format, though customers in the UK had access to the latter only – the car was marketed with a more sizable price tag to differentiate it from the Golf. Apart from the enormous boot, the main difference in appearance was the new grille, and rectangular headlamps. There was also a small crease in the C-post, but to all intents and purposes, the Jetta was really just a Golf with a boot. Overall the length was up by 380mm, and the luggage compartment a very roomy 377 litres. In the UK, it was a marginal seller; similar in many aspects to VW’s other small saloon, the Derby – based on the Polo. Engine range mirrored the Golf, spanning 1.1- to 1.-5-litres – and unlike the Jetta model that followed, no GTI version was offered. Nowadays, it’s a likeable addition to the Volkswagen scene, and fondly remembered amongst enthusiasts.