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A 2019 Volkswagen Jetta with the R-Line package.

Jeremy Sinek

After eight years playing in the mass-market sandbox, the Volkswagen Jetta gets outfitted with a near-premium persona for its 2019 redesign.

The corresponding increase in price – MSRPs now start at $20,995 – isn’t nearly as steep as it may seem. Yes, the MSRP for the outgoing 2017 model was only $16,395, but that was for the base Trendline trim, a get-’em-in-the-door price leader without air conditioning. VW Canada didn’t offer a 2018 model.

The 2019 Jetta starts with the Comfortline trim, which includes A/C, heated seats, LED headlamps, smartphone integration, alloy wheels, cruise control, a backup camera and 6.5-inch touchscreen system.

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That’s in the ballpark of similarly equipped mainstream competition (though heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel won’t be available until later in the year). While Volkswagen Canada chief Daniel Weissland acknowledges VW’s pricing is about five per cent higher than mainstream rivals, in return buyers get a German-engineered car that can cruise all day long at 250 km/h on the autobahn. Also, drivers receive a four-year, 80,000-kilometre warranty.

An R-Line package includes lowered sport suspension and unique 17-inch wheels.

Jeremy Sinek/The Globe and Mail

Highline and Execline trims add progressively more standard features, with a fully optioned Execline topping out just above $30,000. High-end features include a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster, ventilated seats and a Beats 400-watt, eight-speaker audio system.

For now, all are powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine rated at 147 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque. A GLI performance version is in the pipeline.

Engaged drivers will be pleased to know that a 6-speed manual transmission will be standard across the board, with an 8-speed automatic a $1,400 option.

Other options include a $995 driver assistance package (adaptive cruise, autonomous emergency braking and lane assist etc.) on the two upper trims. On the Highline trim, an R-Line package includes lowered sport suspension and unique 17-inch wheels plus sporty cosmetic touches … and remote start (huh?).

The Jetta will be in Canadian showrooms by the end of the month – about five or six weeks ahead of U.S. dealerships.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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