Everything old is new again — at least so fans of manual transmission are hoping. Volkswagen is doing its part to feed into the idea.
Even though it is a new car, the 2023 Volkswagen Jetta Sport is definitely old school. Not only is it a compact passenger car, but it also has a manual transmission, complete with the steel-capped clutch pedal and a 1.5-liter turbo-charged engine and a simple interior underscoring this car is more than an extension of your smart phone.
Volkswagen is not the only manufacturer to continue offering cars with stick shifts. Honda, Mazda and Subaru have worked at keeping manual gear boxes in their cars. Toyota and Kia have also models equipped with sticks, while Ford and Chevrolet offer manual transmissions on more expensive vehicles such as the Mustang, Bronco and Camaro.
The 2023 Jetta 1.5 Turbo Sport is one of the very best cars with a manual transmission available today and the vehicle I drove for a week is priced at $22,605, which must be considered eminently affordable in today’s market.
With manufacturers pouring money into battery-electric vehicles, there’s not a lot set aside for re-designing vehicles such as the Jetta. Fortunately, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Volkswagen Group endowed the sixth-generation Jetta with a strong exterior design that has stood up well through an era of upheaval.
The Jetta sedan comes with straightforward styling, featuring a squared off front fascia, character lines down the side, a laid-back windshield and squared-off trunk that fit together nicely in the compact in the compact design. The Jetta’s proportions are well suited for a compact and the wheels and light fixtures have been tweaked for the 2023 model years without altering the sedan’s familiar appearance.
The 2023 Jetta comes with a basic interior that seems to revel in its old school simplicity. It uses a key rather than a button for the ignition and there are big chunky knobs to control the temperature. One modern feature is a switch instead of a lever to set the parking brake, which is important in a car equipped with a manual transmission. There are also controls on the steering well in another bow to modernity.
VW also spiced up the interior steel-capped pedals. But overall, the cabin is furnished with endearing simplicity: cloth seats, a black headliner and an instrument cluster and screen for the entertainment system that is easily read. The visibility from the driver’s seat is good but more importantly the interior is laid out in a way that makes it easy to engage the clutch and shift at the same time.
The heart of the 2023 Jetta Sport is a 1.5-liter turbocharged, 4-cylinder engine with double overhead cam shafts and 16 valves, matched with 6-speed manual transmission. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given the 2023 Volkswagen Jetta Sport a combined fuel economy rating of 34 mpg, including 29 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway.
Safety and Technology
While it does not come with all the high-tech features found on some more expensive vehicles, the 2023 Volkswagen Jetta Sport does have an impressive list of safety equipment, beginning with an advanced airbag system with eight airbags.
Forward collision warning and autonomous braking, blind-spot monitor and a rear cross-traffic alert are part of the package as are electronic stability and brake force distribution. It also has cruise control, rearview camera, hill-hold control. It also has an 8-inch digital cluster, app connected smartphone integration via USB and Bluetooth connectivity as well as an electronic parking brake, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers and foldable outside mirrors.
A key reason manual transmissions are disappearing is that they do not work all that well in the stop-and-go traffic, which is typical of any large American city. They are impractical because the driver constantly moves in and out of gear.
That said, however, the Volkswagen Jetta Sport is a lot of fun to drive on any road with a little space. It’s fast, maneuverable and has more than enough power since its curb weight. The suspension is solid and flexible, while the layout for the manual transmission in the Jetta was ergonomically friendly. The car’s shift lever moves easily through the gears of the Japanese-made transmission and the clutch, or third pedal, also is in a user-friendly, I found. Great car to drive. I just wish the sun had shone more during my week behind the wheel.
2023 Volkswagen Jetta 1.5 T Sport Specifications
|Dimension||L: 186.5 inches/W: 70.8 inches/H: 57.7 inches/Wheelbase: 105.8 inches|
|Powertrain||1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine; 6-speed manual transmission|
|Fuel Economy||29 mpg city/42 mpg highway/34 mpg combined|
|Performance Specs||158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque|
|Price||Base price: $21,750; As tested: $22,605 including $1,095 destination charge.|
|On-Sale Date||Available now|
The 2023 Volkswagen Jetta 1.5 T Jetta Sport is one of the most affordable cars on the market today in a segment a number of manufacturers have abandoned. But the manual transmission is not for everyone and requires a measure of commitment, I suspect, most American drivers would prefer to avoid.
It is not ostentatious, and it fits into nicely into most any parking spot while seating five comfortably, making it an alternative to larger and more expensive vehicles for small or downsized families.
2023 VW Jetta 1.5 T Sport — Frequently Asked Questions
How much horsepower does a VW Jetta 2023 have?
The 2023 VW Jetta is equipped with a choice of engines, including a standard 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that rides notably smoothly. This engine makes 158 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. Volkswagen also offers a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
What is the 0-to-60 time for a Jetta?
Mated to a 6-speed manual with overdrive, the Jetta achieves a 0-60 time of 7.7 seconds.
How long will a Jetta last?
The VW Jetta has been known to last for more than 200,000 miles when properly maintained. Most drivers put an average of 12,000 miles on their cars every year, so a car with 200,000 miles on the odometer can easily be approach 20 years old.