On the plus side, the Jetta still offers a relatively enjoyable driving experience for a front-wheel-drive compact sedan. Like we've come to expect from Volkswagens, the car feels solid and planted in corners, with limited body roll whether you have the Sport Package or not. Sport models have a 15-mm lower ride height, a sport suspension, sport seats and alloy pedals. Non-Sport models offer slightly better damping, but overall the Jetta's ride quality is pretty firm. It reminds me of the Civic, a car that's fairly sensitive to pavement imperfections.
On the hilly roads in and around San Francisco where I tested the Jetta, the inline-five engine felt strong enough, and it had power to spare for confident passing on flat rural roads. Despite the odd-number cylinder count, it's a surprisingly smooth-revving engine.