2008 Volkswagen Jetta Review – German Design and Engineering at an Economical Price

Expert Reviews Volkswagen

2008 Volkswagen Jetta


When Volkswagen introduced its 2.5 liter 5 cylinder power plant as the base engine for the Jetta in 2005, it was a step up from the previous 4 cylinder engine, but it was still widely critiqued for offering less than stellar performance. For 2008, Volkswagen has re-tuned the engine, with 170 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque now available, up from 150 hp and 170 lb-ft. Although these might seem like modest gains, they provide big dividends when you punch the throttle. While not quite sports car quick, acceleration is brisk off the line, with the 6 speed automatic transmission working through the gears in quick succession. Once you get moving, all it takes is a downshift or two and there is plenty of power to make a quick pass or merge into traffic.

Although the improved performance of the engine/transmission was much appreciated, especially during spirited driving, there is still a lack of drive train refinement, especially compared with some of the products coming from Japan. The 5 cylinder engine gets thrashy when you start to approach the redline, and the transmission seemed a bit abrupt when shifting – especially at slower speeds.

2008 VW Jetta interior

Once you get out on the open road, the fact that the Jetta’s suspension was tuned on the autobahn will become very apparent. At slower speeds, the shocks almost feel too stiff and unforgiving, but at freeway speeds the suspension is nicely composed and controlled. Steering is also very solid and gives enough input so that the driver feels connected to the road, but not so much to make it jarring. Unlike some other compact sedans, which have a gotten a lot taller in height, the Jetta rides nice and low to the ground, which imparts an athletic, sporty feel.

Should you enter some twisty sections of road, don’t worry, because the Jetta is easily up to the challenge. Body roll is minimal and overall grip is quite good, being limited primarily by the all season Michelin tires and the somewhat heavy overall weight. And even if you start to loose traction, the car remains quite neutral at the limit and is easy to bring back in line.

2008 VW Jetta - navigation, satellite radio, cd player 2008 VW Jetta - center channel speaker 2008 VW Jetta - iPod dock


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  • g says:

    just had to replace my totaled prius .I chose a 08 jetta 2.5 se and I love it mpg is not all that but it is a tight comfotable reliable sedan Much more than I expected for the price espectaillty after driving and pricing the audi a3 and a4 Jetta wins hands down Fit and finish are way above my prius aswell as seating quaility .. das boot wins so far no complaints on the overall …

  • strangways56 says:

    my jetta does whatever i ask it to no complaints nice car!

  • Angie says:

    I owned a 2007 jetta wolfsburg edition and loved it. It got totaled on 2-14-11 and I miss it badly. Thinking about buying another one.

  • Richie says:

    car continues too have ongoing electrical issue and warning light a plenty—What a hassle to own a VW

  • Jen says:

    Less than impressed.

    I’ve had my 08 Jetta 15 months, bought it with 11 miles on it. I experienced a whacky lurching within the first 1,000 miles that the service dept could not explain. Now I have electrical issues with my door locks-the back passenger side and driver side doors won’t lock, and when they do, they won’t unlock. My service experience has been TERRIBLE! They take the car for a full day and don’t even fix the problem, let alone give you a loaner!

    After owning a Nissan Pathfinder for 3 years, I say Japanese cars all the way!

  • James Hadden says:

    My mother came down for a visit and she was given a Jetta 2.5 (2008).She wanted me to drive her down to see her Mother in Miami.She said “you can drive my rental” Needless-to-say, I was VERY impressed with the exeleration.It really gets out of it’s way.The tourque converter mated well to provide effective torque in the powerbands.The layout is smart BUT the ONLY two things I hated were; You have to lift up the [right] arm rest to insert the seat belt clip.I also felt the egress and degress akward.I am 6’0″ and 230#’s I kept hitting my head on the A pillar-roof of the car, everytime I got in or out! The electric windows are not like American cars. They are Fully Automatic on ALL the windows (usually only the drivers window has the “Toll booth” option) I had drove the car for 3 days. It was a little confining around my head. I am used to my SUV.

  • Anthony P. says:

    You guys are both wrong. Jettas are made in Mexico. They are just as reliable no matter where they are built.

    The Jetta Wolfsburgs’ final assembly point is also Mexico, which happens to be a state of the art factory.

  • John says:

    the only ones made in Germany are the 12,500 Wolfburg Editions. I’ve had the new body style since 2005.5 and it is rock solid with absolutely no issues… oh and made in Mexico.

  • iamunknown says:

    The thing is, so many reviews say that the jetta is not that great and many things go wrong with it. But that is if it is one thats made in Mexico. The ones assembled in Germany are much more reliable.

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