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You knew it would happen, S40 VS Jetta 1.8T!

5118 Views 13 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  JPA
I have not driven either. But c'mon, they are clear and present competitors right down to the engine.

What do you think? Performance? Value? Comfort?
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No way would I choose the Volvo over the Jetta. It is more expensive, doesn't offer a manual transmission, and doesn't offer more performance. Maybe I would change my mind if it had a good five-speed, but for now, Jetta all the way.
I thought the Volvo came in a manual.


From the Volvo website

5-speed microprocessor-controlled automatic with lock-up torque converter. Final drive ratio: 2.54
Will they in the future?
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Jetta is better than S40 in every conceptable areas, except for rear seat room.
We'd like to do a comparison article of the two cars, and maybe throw in an Audi A4 1.8T for good measure. The S40 and Jetta are remarkably close though in size and engine outfitted. Status wise, the Volvo may have the edge, but I don't know about driving. I haven't driven the S40 yet to give an accurate comparison.

Status wise, the Volvo may have the edge
VW has a terrible status appeal in the US. But everyone loves Volvo, and especially respect them since it's been nearly a decade since they built a car for under 30 grand and the public isn't aware that an S40 is affordable
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Hey Silly_me:
I was shopping between these two cars just months ago, and decided on the Jetta. Here's my humble opinion: On paper, the S40 seems to have a slight edge over the Jetta. Slightly more power and torque (stock of course), a five-speed auto instead of the optional four-speed in the Jetta, not to mention it's a bigger car than the VW for just a couple of thousands more.
However after driving the two, I couldn't help but feel rather dissappointed with the Volvo. The doors and trunk close with a hollow insubstantial feel, and the interior materials and quality of assembly aren't quite as attractive as the VW's. On the road the steering is a bit mushy and uncommunicative, and everything just operates with a much more isolated impression than the Jetta (in a negative way). The tranny, despite having 5 gears, is reluctant to downshift under acceleration. The lack of a bigger wheel option is also dissappointing, as the S40 would be a really good looking car with some decent rims. On the positive side, the seats were superb; MUCH MUCH more comfortable and supportive than those in the Jetta. But seats alone weren't enough to sway me towards choosing it, and I settled on the Jetta instead.
Also I want to comment on the "status" thing about the two cars. VW has gained tremendous respect and envy during the last couple of years, and the Jetta is one of the most desirable cars in the 20-something age group. Volvo undeniably has a more upmarket stigma attached to it, but whenever I see an S40 on the road these days the driver almost always happens to be a middle-aged or elderly female.
Just my two cents,
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Thanks Ian. I haven't had a chance to drive either car (but might do so just to see).

BTW, I agree about the rims. Volvo has never done much with stock rims IMHO (sans the 850R
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So, MoMo, you're the one who took the member name that I wanted... that's my nickname.

Anyway, I have been a VW owner ever since I got my license. I owned a 95 Jetta GLX (for 7 days - nasty crash), a 95 GTI VR6 (had for 8 months - had to lemon law it), a 96 GTI VR6 (replacement for 95), and the latest was a 99 Jetta GLX. I traded in the Jetta two weeks ago for a 2001 S40, and I'll tell you why... Volkswagen quality has seriously declined and they are doing nothing about it.

The 95 GTI that I had was a complete nightmare, so much that I stopped driving it and left it at the dealership for three months until I got a replacement car. I was very soured and ready to give up on VW, but they made it right after three months of fighting and gave me a new car. The 96 was much better, but it started needing very expensive work around 60,000 miles, so I traded it in for the 99 Jetta. What a mistake!

In the 20 months that I owned the Jetta it visited the shop 23 times, sometimes for weeks at a time. In 20 months it needed three transmissions, two engine computers, an entire exaust system, some type of manifold, three passenger side window regulators, a mass air-flow sensor (that they wanted me to pay $400 for at 25,700 miles - 1,700 miles out of their crappy warranty), wheel bearings, a glovebox door, a cupholder, a gas flap actuator (that holds it shut), a trunk actuator (trunk wouldn't open for two weeks), two new cd changers, a new key, an alarm control module... I could go on because I'm sure I missed some things, but I think you get the point.

I entertained the idea of trading in the 99 for a 2001 Jetta GLX, thinking that maybe two years was long enough to work out the bugs, but gave up that idea when the glovebox handle came off in my hand during the test drive and the same squeeks and rattles present in the 99 Jetta were still present in the brand new 2001 with 20 miles on it, inexcusable in a $26,000 car. Not to mention I was told that I was going to have to wait two months for an automatic (manual is not an option in NYC) Jetta.

The S40 that I got is beautiful. White/Taupe leather, Sport Pkg, pwr seat, sunroof, wood effect interior trim, cold weather package. The car is way more comfotable than the Jetta, the 5 speed auto transmission is soooooooo much better than the Jetta's 4 speed piece of crap, and I disagree with your comment on the car's interior - the Volvo is put together much better than the Jetta, which rattled and squeeked from day one.

So sure, I sacrificed a little performance (handling only- the engine and transmission kick butt). Trust me my friend, it was well worth it. I no longer worry about what kind of crappy rental car I am going to have to drive for weeks at a time while VW waits on backordered parts. I no longer have to worry about getting stranded in the middle of an intersection in mid-town Manhattan, or on the Cross Bronx Expressway at 1:00am, nor do I have to drive the car home at 20 MPH in "Limp mode" as VW calls it, or wait hours for VW's roadside assistance tow truck. I no longer have to book service appointments three weeks in advance, and no longer have to fight for non-warranty repairs to be covered.

I hope you have better luck with your Jetta than I did with mine. It is a nice car, when mine was working (very very rarely) I loved it, but dealing with problem after problem was too draining and time consuming, especially with a network of idiot dealerships and a customer service staff that is grossly unhelpful. I get treated like royalty at the Volvo dealership, but I won't need to go there often... just for maintenance and my free car wash every now and then.

I couldn't be happier with this car so far, those middle-aged and elderly women are on to something here...
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Jonboy34: I'm sorry if it caused you any inconvenience, but I've registered in VWvortex under the same nickname for two years and I thought it'd be easier for people to recognize me here...
By the way, my Jetta has been perfect for the past 3 months, and so has my sister-in-law's (she got the exact same car except it's silver).
We own an S40 and I seriously looked at a Golf and Jetta 1.8T. The Volvo is way more upscale when loaded, but also far more expensive.

The Jetta with sport suspension drives better, has an available manual transmission and only loses an inch or two in rear seat room. However, the Jetta has such a horrible resale value that the cars lease for approximately the same monthly payment.

All in all, we are not impressed with the ergonomics of the 2000 V40, and the interior of on the standard car just doesn't compare to the Jetta. Fortunately we picked up a great lease rate on a completely loaded Silver S40 that has all the bells and whistles, plus the nice wood trim.


p.s. The dealer just tried to give me my car back with a non-sport steering wheel. Ugh! These people are clueless - my steering wheel was thicker, and has nice padding at 8 and 4 - what were they thinking!?!?!
Funny to ask...

Near the begining of the summer my mom bought a Volvo V40 with enough goading from me. As luck would have it, I had to buy a car a month later and got a Jetta GLS VR6. The Volvo is nice, but I prefer my Jetta. Manual transmission, and significantly more grunt win the day. Both cars rock though. I bet my mom could chip that 1.9T and smoke me!
Newbie here, but chimin in for the first time. I was wondering is it the s40T that they dont sale here?
I dont know a lot about Volvos but I have seen the old s40 T. I understand the s40 just went through a makeover better track wider better platform throughout, if it were a five speed the Volvo would be the choice.
Maybe with the New s60 sports versions and persuing that sportier image Volvo could bring me the s40t. thats a bad little ride.
There are bad apples in every bunch from every manufacturer. I just traded in my 99.5 Jetta after exactly 1 year and 23k miles for a 01 GTI VR6, my 5th VW.

I also have a '00 V40 which has been in the shop twice for a check engine light. No big deal but that's two more times in the shop than my old Jetta ever was (0) in the same period of time. My Volvo also had the most annoying metallic rattle coming from under and behind the center console. I fixed this myself twice, finally having to put some foam in there to stop it for good.

I WILL be trading in this car for the '02 VW Passat wagon in April. I am very, very disappointed in the build and feel of this Ford owned Mitsubishi/Volvo project. VWs just feel sooo good. Volvo only has snob value, which I fell for. I'll never stray again!
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