Following almost 40 years of production and six model generations, the Volkswagen Jetta entered well-earned retirement in Australia in 2017.
Originally a small saloon, it was an immediate hit when first introduced in 1979 to provide an alternative to the more utilitarian compacts that led the market at the time. Stylish, roomy and comfortable, it was a driver’s car—and also one for all the family.
With its design by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Jetta MK1 was a saloon the world wanted and quickly became one of Volkswagen’s best-selling models, particularly in North America. Over each generation, the Jetta has successfully maintained all of the characteristics that made it such a star in the first place.
Though it shared much of its architecture with the Volkswagen Golf, the Jetta was always much more than a hot hatch with a boot. It boasted supreme handling and balance with a smooth ride more fitting of bigger cars. Straight away it was a winner with critics and the public.
Over each generation, it became bigger and more aerodynamic, offering more power and providing even greater space to families who had grown up with their Jetta. Just as important was its reputation for safety, which has endured throughout its lifespan.
But despite all the changes over the years, deep down the Jetta has always stayed true to its original promise.
A truly international car—it would outsell all European rivals in the North American market year after year—the Jetta has been known by various different names in a number of global markets.
It is, of course, best known by the nameplate derived from the Atlantic “jet stream”, in line with Volkswagen’s policy at the time of its release to brand models after famous winds across the globe.
It has, however, been known over six generations as the Atlantic, the Fox, the Bora and the Vento. In China, where it is still available on the market, it is known as the Sagitar. While its names might have changed over the years, the Jetta’s quality, versatility and appeal has never waned.
Over the four decades since the first Jetta rolled off the production line, the model has continued to capture the imagination of motorists looking for space, style and substance—each an enduring hallmark of the nameplate.
The final Australian units might be unrecognisable compared to the original, but still the DNA is unmistakable. For generations, the Jetta has been a faithful companion for drivers and families who demand the best in a compact package.
Like its stablemate, the Golf, it has enjoyed tremendous popularity and appeal. Though it has now retired, its legend will continue for generations to come.
Replacing the bold and popular Jetta was a daunting task, but Volkswagen's engineers have met the challenge in the powerful new Arteon. While retaining all the fun and distinctiveness that were the hallmarks of the Jetta, Volkswagen's newest performance sedan features more comfort, technology, style and space than ever before.