It’s been widely criticized by stateside Volkswagen loyalists for abandoning the concept of a premium small sedan, but the current VW Jetta, despite being bigger, less unique and considerably cheaper than its predecessor, is actually proving to be the right vehicle for VW’s strategy, according to U.S. chief Jonathan Browning.
During a recent interview at the Chicago Auto Show, Browning said that “the entry-level has really done quite well in terms of bringing extra people in.” He was, of course, referring to customers that previously, drove competitors’ vehicles and before the 2011 model, wouldn’t have viewed the Jetta as an alternative. Browning also went on to say that some 60 percent of 2011 Jetta buyers are ‘conquests’ from other brands.
Through research, VW has concluded that the reason why previous Jetta models weren’t as popular was one; retail price and two, the perception of high maintenance costs. With the current car starting at $15,995 in the U.S. and VW throwing in three-year scheduled maintenance program, the company says it has uncovered a largely new customer base for its bread and butter offering.
But although the 2011 Jetta might be the most porridge-like ever, at least as far as VW enthusiasts and loyalists are concerned, there’s still a glimmer of hope. The 2012 Jetta GLI model with tauter suspension, turbocharged 2.0-liter four, higher level of feature content and an available Fender sound system, promises to provide at least some of the thrills, traditional sporty VWs are known for when it goes on sale here as a 2012 model.
And yet VW seems firmly entrenched on increasing volume in the U.S. market; targeting total sales of 1 million units annually (including Audi) by 2018. In order to get there it will likely have to rely on affordable, dull cars, like the base Jetta and the new $20,000 Passat; due out later this year.
Let’s just hope that alongside the porridge for breakfast, we can still get some chili for lunch – the GLI is certainly a nod in the right direction.
[Source: Automotive News]