Thought I’d post a follow up review to my 2003 Jetta GLI. As I previous posted, I was having a number of issues with my Jetta, and while those remain mostly unresolved, I still find the performance on this car to be amazing. I also believe that the difference in quality between my ’01 Passat and ’03 Jetta to be based on the percentage of each car being built in German. The Passat is 90% German-built; the Jetta is 40% German and 50% Mexican, and I think this makes all of the difference in the overall package, but that’s just my own thoughts.
I’ve still got that strange brake whistle thing, but since it’s winter, I rarely hear it: it only whistles when it’s been heated up a good deal and that usually needs warm temperatures. It’s something to look forward to, now that the weather is changing again. The general thought on this was that after the car had a chance to break itself in, this problem would go away. Since I’ve still got only 4100 miles on it – and the target was 5000 before considering it a “real” problem – it still might be premature to make a judgement call on this. Time will tell, and since I’ve got another 30 months or so to go, I’ve got plenty of it.
And yes, there might be a problem with both front doors. Earlier models had problems with their power windows, which were fixed via a recall meaning that mine should be fine, but the doors sometime sound hollow or tinny when they close; they still close, so I don’t care, but it does sound weird. Oh, and I can’t open the driver side back door, unless the front door is open, because the molding on the passenger door gets caught underneath the front door’s seam – I gotta get that looked at, when I go in for the six month service. The molding just needs to be re-glued on the passenger door, but it is annoying.
Oh yeah, and there’s been an issue with the car sometimes stalling when I start it. I’ve actually had to watch my feet on this one, to make sure I wasn’t hitting the gas by accident. When it happens, the engine turns over and sputters, threatening to stall. It has actually stalled a couple of times, but usually the engine gets more gas and it revs back to normal, almost as if I hit the gas – but I haven’t hit it! I heard about another Jetta owner having a similar problem and they had to rip the car apart to find it; they thought it was the catalytic converter and a few other things, but it took a while before they eventually got his car back together. I’m willing to live with that too, until there’s a recall or I get stranded, because I’m sick of making repair visits.
But in spite of all of this, I’m still completely amazed by the car, both with it’s speed and torque. I was on the highway today doing 80, mostly by accident. I just kept up with traffic and was stunned that the car felt that it had more to give me, which is why I thought I was going slower… I had the same feeling of control on the car that I had at 25: tight steering and pop to the gas. [Local readers, I as coming out of the West Haven tunnel on 15 when I saw I was doing 80] As I was approaching a huge hill – one that makes me downshift to second in my 4-cyl Wrangler (and even that sometimes chatters enough to warrant a downshift to first) – I punched the gas, to see if the car had more to give me. The Jetta threw my head back, even though I was already in sixth gear, and seconds later I was doing 92 up the hill. This is what amazes me: I’ve never had a car that has made me feel that I had unlimited power at my disposal. That no matter how fast I am going in this Jetta, I feel like I could go faster, if I wanted to. And sure, I know would top out at 130 or 140, and I never want to see anything above 90 again – especially on CT roads! – but it just feels like I could drive as fast as I want to. I guess this is what VW means when they talk about the GTI and the “pocket rocket”… the Jetta GLI is cut from the same cloth.
And man, does that feel good.