All-new 2019 VW Jetta to debut in Detroit in January, here's what we know so far

VW's best-selling model in the U.S. will become more "emotional"

It may not be the most exciting model VW makes, but the Jetta sedan is a big moneymaker for the company, particularly in the United States.

So the confirmed world debut of the seventh-generation model at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show in January is a big deal. The news was broke by VW North America CEO Hinrich Woebcken, who shared information about the 2019 Jetta with several media representatives at the Red Bull Global Rallycross event in Los Angeles.

Here's what he disclosed. First of all, he provided an answer to the question on everyone's lips: what does it look like? Woebcken said the Jetta Mk7 has a coupe-like shape with a "super modern," "strong" and "emotional" character. As these spy shots hint, the front end should look similar to the Arteon, with a longer body and bigger trunk expected as well. The above rendering of a 2018 Jetta GTE should be a quite accurate prediction of the real thing.

Like the current Jetta, its successor has been designed with the North American market in mind — which is normal because the U.S. is the model's largest market. However, the focus on North America doesn't mean the 2019 Jetta will skimp on quality, something one can't say about the current model.

"We have given the car a North American ‘touch' but not always in terms of low cost and less content, but in much more specific needs of the market. The Jetta will be, for me, a symbolic statement that Volkswagen is changing by really allowing to listen to American customers, American dealers, what the market needs," Woebcken was quoted as saying by VWvortex.

Pretty good news so far, but there's more. The executive has confirmed that the 2019 Jetta will offer a manual transmission from launch and that a hot GLI version will arrive about a year from the sales debut. The upcoming Jetta GLI may also feature a manual gearbox, as hinted by VW spokesman William Gock. That would be reassuring, since the current Jetta GLI has lost the manual transmission for the 2018 model year.

Furthermore, a Jetta R-Line trim will be available right from the sales debut, as per dealer feedback. Speaking of dealers, Woebcken said they were "extremely excited" when they were shown the all-new model.

As expected, the Jetta Mk7 will adopt the MQB platform and the latest turbocharged gasoline engines from the VW Group's bank, with European-spec Jettas expected to offer turbodiesel units as well. Expect a similar engine lineup to the facelifted Golf — let's not forget the Jetta is essentially the sedan version of the Golf.

Rumor has it the 2019 Jetta will ditch the independent rear suspension for a semi-rigid axle to save weight. It remains to be seen what effect that change will have on handling, however.

If you're in the market for a compact sedan, you might want to take a look at our review of the 2017 Honda Civic as well.

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