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VW Jetta – Generations Of Excellence
by: Steven Johnston
The Volkswagen Jetta, or the VW Jetta is a car that is made by the Volkswagen Company and is basically a sedan variation of the Volkswagen Golf. The name ‘VW Jetta’ was used only in South Africa and North America until 2005. Volkswagen used the names ‘Vento’ and then ‘Bora’ in Europe. The VW Jetta was made because the marketing people at Volkswagen were astute enough to realize that the people in the United States preferred to drive sedan model cars as opposed to hatchback models like VW’s Golf car. South Africa shows similar preferences and so marketing for both America and South Africa remains almost identical. Volkswagen’s marketing team proved that they made advantageous observations as the Jetta eventually became the best selling European car in the United States.

The Jetta first made its debut in North America in 1980. It was available as either a two-door coupe or a four-door sedan. This model had a different version called the Volkswagen Fox that was sold only in South Africa. The original US VW Jetta model was manufactured and sold from 1980 though 1984.

The next generation of VW Jettas proved to be the most successful for Volkswagen and remained in production from 1985 through 1992. In the United States alone, the VW Jetta outsold the VW Golf by almost half. This is the time when the Jetta saw its peak sales and was named the best-selling European car in America. This version of the VW Jetta was also one of the first Volkswagen cars to be made in China. The difference between the first generation of VW Jettas and the second generation was in the body design as the car featured changes with added large, body-colored bumper covers, low side skirts and side-clad and grille alterations.

From 1991 through 1998, the third generation of VW Jetta was dubbed the “poor man’s BMW” as it was loaded with trim features. The exterior of third generation VW Jettas were considered to be ‘boxy’ and had subtle body changes like a new grille, assorted wheel covers and body-colored rub strips. The VW Jetta from this time period was available in the GL, which is the basic trim, and the GLS, which is the luxury model trimmed with leather interior and power windows, locks and sunroof as well as many other features.

The fourth generation of the VW Jetta came out late in 1998 and continued production until 2005. This Jetta shared some of the same styling marks as the larger VW Passat. The body of the fourth generation VW Jetta includes a rounder shape and arched rooflines. This VW Jetta was made in a variety of trim levels as well as in a wagon version. The fourth generation VW Jetta was made in a few different models with the GL being the base model, the GLS a slightly higher model and the GLX being the luxury model.

The fifth generation of the VW Jetta was unveiled at the 2005 Los Angeles Auto Show. The latest generation of the VW Jetta is larger than the previous generation with luxury styling and a roomy interior. This model of the VW Jetta is also the first to feature an independent rear suspension system and a new 5 cylinder engine.

About the author:
Automotive journalist Steven Johnson writes for publications such as

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