We often wonder why Americans aren't a little more tuned-in to the sporty yet economical combination that a good wagon can provide. And here in the U.S., available now, there's no better example than the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen--a model that is more engaging to drive than nearly any compact crossover.
It seems that Americans are, albeit very gradually, figuring that out. The SportWagen has been gaining share and sales, late in its product cycle. Just in January, VW sold 1,570 of them in the U.S.--37 percent more than in 2012. It's also the model with the highest percentage sold in clean-diesel TDI form.
But a new one is already waiting in the wings. Here in this new Golf Variant (what the SportWagen is called in the rest of the world)--based on the upcoming Mark VII versions of the Golf that will start arriving in the U.S. for the 2014 model year--we get a first look at the 2015 Jetta SportWagen. Styling from the outside is a step less rounded and bulbous, and a little more chiseled, with sheetmetal that looks drawn tight over the fenders especially. Inside, the interior design and trims aren't any big departure from VW's somewhat austere traditions, but the instrument panel takes on a somewhat boxier look, like that of the larger CC and Passat.
No doubt, we expect VW's 2.0-liter TDI turbo-diesel four to return, along with the 1.8-liter turbocharged, direct-injected gasoline four-cylinder that's going to be the mainstay for the Golf and Jetta lineups.
In Europe, the Golf Variant will be offered with engine stop-start, as well as with a very wide range of engines, including a 110-horsepower TDI BlueMotion powertrain that would likely return more than 50 mpg in the EPA Combined cycle, judging by its European numbers. Consider the U.S. more likely to get the all-wheel-drive versions, probably with a 4Motion badge.
Shoppers choose wagons to get more space and versatility without giving up nimble handling, and wrapping in ride quality that's more composed than taller vehicles. While we can't speak to the dynamics yet, the next-generation SportWagen gets 20 percent more cargo space than before--with a rear cargo area that's 41.5 inches long behind the rear seats or 72.1 inches when they're folded.
Safety extras offered in the European version of this wagon include a PreCrash system, City Emergency Braking, Automatic Distance Control, Driver Alert, and Dynamic Light Assist; top versions get eight-inch touch screens and upgraded infotainment.
Check back for more U.S.-market details on this next generation of the SportWagon, likely due for the 2015 model year. And in the meantime for more of the Geneva Motor Show debuts, browse the show coverage over at Motor Authority.
(c) 2013, High Gear Media.