From the Armchair: Jetta V – You’ll Take It and You’ll Like It

Unlike our illustrious Managing Editor Jamie Vondruska, I’m here for a different reason. My main purpose in writing this isn’t let you decide for yourself, but to tell you that you’ll not only accept the new fifth generation Jetta but you’ll also like it. Sure, there’ll be some that find the car gut-wrenching and refuse to un-wrench said gut, but in the end, it’s my assertion that most of us will like the car.

After all, this is a VW website, right? We’re cheerleaders and we’re going to force it down your throats whether you like it or not… Wrong! Rather, the new Jetta sets a new schema for most. It’s like nothing we’ve seen as of yet. It’s weird, it’s different, it’s been compared to the Camry. Big deal. In the end, that different new design will be digested and added into the Volkswagen hegemony.

Why? Because the car has great dimensions and because once the aftermarket gets ahold of it – not to mention the availability of special models such as the GLI – owners will be able to customize their cars, tailoring them to their own likes. More cool-looking image-setting Jettas will turn up on websites, in magazines and at shows and our schemas will change.

So how can I be so cocky and sure of myself in this statement? Well, I hate to sound as if I’m getting old and I’ve seen it all before, but frankly, I am getting old and I have seen it all before. I’m a bit young to remember the transition in ’85, but by the same token the aftermarket and enthusiast base were also a bit young in those days, so it’s not like many people really noticed.

Not so though in ’94 when the Jetta III hit the roads, or in ’99 when the Jetta IV debuted. In both cases, everyone said they were getting too big and heavy. No one really liked the design. Some more boisterous owners of previous generation cars haughtily stated that their older cars would go up in value (which never really happens anyway, by the way).

Then this amazing thing happens. Body kits and suspensions come to market. Special sport models are made by Volkswagen. Engine swaps begin to happen. Hot-rodding begins in earnest and what starts as a few goofballs willing to mod a brand new car and show it at Waterfest becomes a boisterous and unapologetic grouping of hundreds of owners who push threads off of the front page of their respective discussion forum more quickly than you can say “Mark Five”, “Mach Five” or “Em Kay Vee”.

Unlike Jamie, who’s been inside Wolfsburg’s Hall of Justice to see the new car, I haven’t sniffed around a new Jetta in person. However, I have driven the new fifth generation Golf and have looked closely (and longingly) over the new GTI at this year’s Paris Auto Show. I’ve sat in those gripping seats, slid the great-looking new shift knob through the gate, held the meaty steering wheel – all of which will find their way into the next generation GLI.

Looking over the photos, I’ll admit my personal jury is still out over the chrome face of the new Jetta. But where some might see something gaudy and Jamie sees his own reflection, I see something that can be modified. Black it out like the GTI or do something different like color-matching, finish it in satin-silver or texture it in something like carbon fiber. How it’s done doesn’t really matter – the point is, it’s a modular bumper design that provides for even more takes on customization. And that’s just the nose.

In the end, most of the naysayers will come around. In the beginning, everybody’s a critic. Usually though, most of us will stop our idle complaining and change that chatter to general appreciation, all without admitting we were ever wrong in the first place. After all, those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. So while I’m still unsure about the car, I’m confident I’ll eventually like it. It’s all a matter of changing my schema.

Like the Jetta V? Hate the Jetta V? Click on the link to the left to vote!
For more photos of the car in this story, click on the link to our gallery at the right.