Video: How does a 1980 VW Jetta compare with the 2019 Jetta?
How much have cars changed since the 1980s? VW's first and latest Jetta models show up some striking differences – and a few uncanny similarities
The Volkswagen Group of America has just restored a 1982 Jetta for its heritage fleet, and decided to compare it with the new 2019 Jetta.
Shortly after its US introduction in 1980, the Jetta became the best-selling German model in America, with more than 3.2 million models sold since. When it first hit American roads, the compact Jetta defined a new segment for Volkswagen. The brand had achieved success with the subcompact Rabbit (the Golf in Europe) in the late 1970s, following the end of Beetle sales in the United States.
Built off the Golf platform and named after the German word for 'jet stream', the Jetta two- and four-door versions were the sixth models in the VW line-up for 1980, along with the Rabbit, Dasher, Scirocco, Vanagon and VW Pickup.
- Want something sportier? How about a Corrado?
- Here's how to buy a good Golf GTI MkI
- Classic VWs for sale on AutoClassics
For its era, the Jetta offered a standard amount of power—76bhp from a 1.6-liter inline four-cylinder engine. It had a healthy list of standard features, from power-assisted brakes and AM/FM cassette-player, to cut-pile carpet and intermittent wipers.
The only options were a three-speed automatic transmission (in place of the standard five-speed manual), air conditioning, sunroof, tinted glass, and aluminum-alloy wheels. Driver-assistance features in the first-generation Jetta included such touches as a driver’s side rearview mirror that you could adjust without rolling down the window.
The 2019 model is packed with equipment of course, including options of Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), High Beam Control (Light Assist) and Lane Departure Warning (Lane Assist), a touchscreen infotainment system with standard Volkswagen Car-Net® App-Connect technology that offers compatible smartphone integration with the three major platforms—Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®.
The biggest differences though are in size, weight and power, predictably, with the old car just two-thirds the weight of the new version, but putting out just over half the power. The trunk/boot space is identical, funnily enough, and though the new Jetta has much, much more equipment than the old one, the 1980 version does have more ashtrays and cigarette lighters than the new one...
The figures that follow make for interesting reading:
1980 Jetta versus 2019 Jetta
- 1980: 93 mph
- 2019: 125mph
- 1980: 14.2sec
- 2019: 7.9sec
- 1980: 1786lb (810kg)
- 2019: 2888lb (1310kg)
- 1980: 167.8in (4262mm)
- 2019: 185.1in (4701.54mm)
- 1980: 63.4in (1610.36mm)
- 2019: 70.8in (1798.32mm)
- 1980: 55.5in (1410mm)
- 2019: 57.4in (1458mm)
- 1980: 94.4in (2398mm)
- 2019: 105.5in (2680mm)
- 1980: 14.1cu ft (399 litres)
- 2019: 14.1cu ft (399 litres)
- 1980: 76bhp
- 2019: 147bhp
- 1980: 83lb-ft
- 2019: 185lb-ft
- 1980: Five-speed manual, three-speed automatic
- Six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic
- 1980: 26 mpg combined
- 2019: 34 mpg combined
- 1980: Front disc/rear drum
- 2019: 4-wheel disc; ABS, ESC
- 1980: Rack and pinion, unassisted
- 2019: Electric power steering
- 1980: 13-inch steel wheels with chrome hubcaps; optional 13-, 14- and 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
- 2019: 16- and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
- 1980: Alpine White, Diamond Silver, Black, Indiana Red, Mexico Beige, Inari Silver
- 2019: Pure White, Tornado Red, Black, Deep Black Pearl, White Silver, Platinum Grey, Sage Green, Silk Blue, Habanero Orange
- 1980: Unavailable
- 2019: Standard; optional Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
- 1980: Dual sealed-beam headlights, bulb taillights
- 2019: LED headlights & taillights; LED Daytime Running Lights; automatic on/off
- 1980: AM/FM cassette stereo
- 2019: AM/FM/SAT with touchscreen and standard Volkswagen Car-Net® App-Connect, Bluetooth® and USB; optional 8-speaker BeatsAudio® and navigation
- 1980: Optional
- 2019: Standard; optional dual-zone Climatronic® automatic climate control
- 1980: 4
- 2019: 5, optional heated and cooled front seats, power driver’s seat, and heated rear seats
- 1980: Not yet invented
- 2019: 1 or 2, dependent on trim
- 1980: 2
- 2019: 0
- 1980: 1
- 2019: 0
- 1980: 0
- 2019: 2
- 1980: 0
- 2019: 8
- 1980: 0
- 2019: 6
In 1980, Car and Driver’s David E. Davis said 'the big trunk, the roomy, comfortable interior, and the remarkable quiet at 75 miles per hour make the Jetta a lovely car for the serious driver'.
Classic Cars for Sale
1992 golf vr6. 50690 genuine miles. 2 owners ftom new. Full vw franchise service history. Serviced 17 times by the vw agent who supplied it new. Standard and never modified. Original paintwork. Timewarp condition. Stored inside. just needs lightly recomissioning. Would easily make a show car. Quite possibly the best vr6 on sale anywhere.
VW Corado 1994 metallic green heated black leather seats, electric sunroof, spoiler, ABS etc, one owner. 33,300 miles every annual service stamp from new to July 2017 with Bell & Colville/VW Audi agents, each MOT since 1997. All service books and two keys, spare and tools unused, scorpion alarm original and unspoiled car
1997 VW Golf 1600 GL Auto 5 Door. LHD. PAS, AIR COND, Electric sun roof, Alloys, Full Black Leather trim, and original untouched Metallic Grey paintwork. One previous owner, Fully documented service History from new,. And only 19000 miles. REPEAT....19000 miles Only. Spare wheel and tools unused. All original books and service pack as new. This car is like a new Golf. Rare and unrepeatable like th