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Comparison Test: Toyota Corolla Altis vs Volkswagen Jetta

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Overview

Toyota Corolla Altis vs Volkswagen Jetta

The Corolla Altis has been the king of the D-segment for the longest time, and not just in terms of sales but also on our Scorecard, courtesy its diesel engine. Can the new Jetta change this? AUTO BILD INDIA pitches the two against each other to find out

Currently, to have a successful model in the D-segment isn’t going to make or break a car maker in India. After all, the most successful model, and our champion in the segment, the Toyota Corolla Altis, sold less than 500 units last month. It is being threatened by the Chevrolet Cruze (sales wise) with every passing month, and even though The Corolla Altis has been the king of the D-segment for the longest time, and not just in terms of sales but also on our Scorecard, courtesy its diesel engine. Can the new Jetta change this? AUTO BILD INDIA pitches the two against each other to find out Established order the Chevy has a powerhouse for an engine and good equipment on board, it has not been able to dislodge the Corolla from its high perch in this magazine. Ditto for the Skoda Laura.

Exterior & Interior

Toyota Corolla Altis Interior

Corolla gets climate control and Bluetooth telephony, both featu

Toyota Corolla Altis Exterior

 

The D-segment though is fated for more glory especially with the C-segment crowd - currently the darling of the automotive sceneset to upgrade in the near future. The D-segment is important for another reason; here’s where the upmarket scene really begins. And for car makers like Honda, Skoda, Toyota and Volkswagen, who pride themselves as relatively high-end brands, it’s important to succeed here to maintain status quo.

But now, with the much improved Jetta, is it time to shift loyalties towards Volkswagen? Let’s find the answer to that.

As far as visual appeal goes, it’s all a matter of choice; whether you prefer the solid plain lines that are typical of German saloon cars or the slight bits of bling which the Corolla brings along with its recent face-lift. Inside too, the simple and solid versus the slightly glitzy and rounded theme continues. The Jetta’s insides don’t look all that different from the previous car, but the quality, the fit and finish and space is definitely better. Even compared to the Corolla, the Jetta does come across as the vehicle with better quality materials, even though the difference isn’t dramatic.

In terms of space though, yes, the difference between the Volkswagen and the Toyota is quite significant. The new Jetta, which sits on a longer wheelbase than the previous car, is roomier, both up front and rear, compared to the Toyota. It has more leg and shoulder room at the front and more usable knee room at the rear as well. And if that wasn’t enough, it has the bigger boot of the two cars as well.

The Corolla on the other hand has more comfortable rear seats, and is the car to buy if you are going to be driven around often. It also has more perceivable equipment. So, there’s climate control and Bluetooth telephony, both of which the Jetta lacks. But then, the Jetta gets an electrically adjustable seat for the driver and height adjust for both front seats. In addition, all 16.9kmplits windows get one touch up/down operation.

Volkswagen Jetta Interior

Resmissing on the Jetta, while the latter has better quality plastic all around

Volkswagen Jetta Exterior

 

Where the Volkswagen really runs away from the Corolla though is in terms of safety features. In addition to driver and passenger airbags up front, it gets front and rear side and curtain airbags too. There's also traction control as well as ESP. All of these safety features are missing on the Toyota.

What also works in the Volkswagen's favour is its driving dynamics. Not only does the Jetta get sportier, more supportive front seats, but the difference in the driving experience between the two is quite striking.

The steering feel, for one, is more alive on the Jetta. It’s quicker and more precise than the Corolla’s unit as well. It might not be as light as the Japanese’s (which does give the Corolla an advantage in city manoeuvrability), but when you are driving fast, be it in a straight line over undulating surfaces or around a sequence of bends, the Volkswagen certainly feels more stable, involving and more relaxing than the Corolla.

Don’t however completely discount the Corolla. Yes, if it’s a highway car you want, then the Jetta is a clear choice. But in the city, it’s not that obvious. The Corolla, for instance, has lighter steering as we mentioned earlier. But, it also has a lighter clutch operation. Plus, shifting gears are less tedious on the Toyota after the Jetta. Visibility is better too in the Corolla. It’s not just easier to look out of from the front or through the A-pillars when approaching a crossroad, but it also has bigger, more usable outside rear view mirrors. Overall then, the Corolla is a much nicer and easier car to drive in the city. What also seals the deal for the Corolla as a city car, is its fuel efficiency. It is more economical in the city, returning almost 3kmpl more than the Jetta. Overall though, the difference is less because the Jetta eturns better fuel efficiency on the highway, despite the fact that both the Volkswagen and the Toyota sport 6-speed manual gearboxes.

The Corolla also rides better at slower speeds, though not by much. But it is plusher, quieter and more absorbent over smaller road defects like pot holes, surface changes or bumps. But yes, if the pothole is too deep or the bump more squarish, the impact to the occupants is a lot more severe. At higher speeds though, the Jetta rides better. It wallows less, flattens surfaces with more authority, and the noise and vibration levels from the suspension is less intruding as well.

Engine & Gearbox

Toyota Corolla Altis Engine

Toyota Corolla Altis The Corolla on the other hand gets a 1.4-litre diesel but returns over 16kmpl

Then of course it gets a bigger, more powerful engine to help it along. The difference in power is clearly visible not only in our spec sheet, but also in the real world. The way the German car pulls, especially through the gears, is quite invigorating. It’s a second quicker in every gear.

Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen JettaThe Jetta has a 2-litre engine that returns a fuel economy of 15.2kmpl.

Then when it comes to outright acceleration; well, it just leaves the Toyota in its dust, literally. It takes three seconds less in the run upto 100kmph but by the time the cars hit 150kmph, the difference unbelievably grows to about 10 seconds! So, it’s clear, the bigger engine does give the Jetta legs, especially at the top end.

Dimension

Toyota Corolla Altis (mm)

Toyota Corolla Altis Overall Dimension

Interior dimensions is where the Corolla struggles to keep up with its German competition. It is easier to get in and out of nonetheless

Toyota Corolla Altis Boot Dimension

Altis Boot has been nicely designed to make sure the ease of usability."

Volkswagen Jetta (mm)

Volkswagen Jetta Overall Dimension

Besides performance, interior room, courtesy larger dimensions, compared to the older Jetta is another of the Volkswagen's strong points

Volkswagen Jetta Boot Dimension

Boot design in Jetta is nicely thought out with most of the boot being easily usable.

Scorecard & Verdict

Volkswagen Jetta

Rank 1Volkswagen Jetta- The winner in this test, the Jetta boasts better dynamics, better overall ride and better performance. It is the better buy here.

Toyota Corolla Altis

TwoToyota Corolla Altis- Still a fantastic car to buy in the D-segment, the Altis is the car to buy if one is driven more often. It's also really good in the city.

Scorecard

Body: This is where the Jetta runs away from the Altis in this test. It scores in terms of space, particularly at the rear. Moreover a bigger boot that's almost devoid of intrusions and split seats for increased flexibility add to the VW's points tally. However, the biggest difference is in safety equipment. The Jetta comes with ESP and eight airbags, missing on the Altis.

Drive: The Volkswagen comes with a bigger engine and more power and, with it, better acceleration abilities and a higher top speed. Even during rollons, the Jetta takes less time. But, all that advantage is eaten into by the Altis, which is more economical. As a result, the latter has a longer range on a tankful as well. And it is kinder to the environment too.

Comfort: The Jetta is the more comfortable car as our Final Placing box shows. It manages to do that courtesy a better ride quality that works better at high speeds. It also has more supportive front seats. Rear seats are better on the Altis, but the difference isn't too big. The Jetta though is quieter.

Dynamics: The Corolla is easier of the two to look out of. Forward visibility as well as through the ORVMs is clearer. Plus having a lighter steering makes it easy to manoeuvre. In most other areas the two are almost evenly matched. It's only when it comes to steering response and braking that the Jetta does noticeably better.

Cost: As our Test Results show, the Jetta is the better product, and by a margin. But the Corolla is more affordable and has better resale too. The advantage that the VW manages to carve out though is just too huge for the Toyota to even out, let alone surpass it. The Jetta therefore wins.

Verdict

There’s no denying that the Corolla Altis, in the diesel avatar is still a very good product and it will do whatever you ask of it well. It has comfortable seats, decent equipment and is easy to drive and live with. But, now with the new Jetta in the picture, it does feel wanting in a number of areas. The Jetta is more capable dynamically, so it rides and handles better, is more stable under braking and at high speeds. And, it is more fun to drive as well. The Corolla Altis though is still more cost effective, being cheaper to buy and cheaper to run, but then again the Jetta does just enough as a well rounded product to negate the cost advantage of the Toyota to emerge as the winner in this test. It’s surely time to shift loyalties now.

 

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