Gallery: A Thinly Veiled Excuse to Post Pictures of a Squeaky Clean Mk1 Jetta

Volkswagen of America is talking about the new Jetta again today, comparing it to the old one and I suspect that they just wanted an excuse to post pictures of their very clean 1980 Jetta. We couldn’t be more on board with that program.

Billed as a Rabbit with a trunk, the Jetta initially was a way to add more cargo space to the Golf family. Building off of Giugiaro’s masterful design work, the Jetta, much like the Golf, was an instant success.

The Jetta was particularly successful in America, quickly becoming the best-selling German car in America. And it remains Volkswagen’s biggest seller to this day. A feat we think the new Jetta has a very good chance of continuing

In the time between the Jetta first hitting American road and now, though, there have been some significant gains.

Originally offered with only 76 hp that figure has now doubled to 147 hp, while torque has increased even more (83 lb-ft for the 1980 model; 185 lb-ft for the 2019). Economy also improved over the years.

Despite the minuscule power output, the 1980 Jetta could only manage 21 mpg combined, while the 2019 gets 34 mpg combined.

Infotainment has also come a long way. Whereas now you can get XM radio, Bluetooth, USB ports, screens, App-connect and more, the 1980 model only came with a cassette player.

The differences are pretty stark and are listed exhaustively in this chart that I’ve copied wholesale from VW (thanks, guys).