By Jeremy Clarkson of The Sunday Times
Well done VW, it's the most boring car in history
At my old school, detention usually involved being asked to write a 1,000-word essay about the inside of a ping pong ball. So I’m well qualified to write about the new Volkswagen Jetta. Because I spent every Saturday afternoon for five years writing about the precise chemical breakdown of air, it’s a breeze to fill these pages with prose about what is unquestionably the most boring car in the whole of human history.
Even James May, my colleague from Top Gear, agrees. I spoke to him yesterday. “I’m driving the most boring car in the world,” I said, and though he’s known as Captain Slow and practises the art of what he calls Christian motoring, he said: “Oh, you must have a Jetta then.”
I wouldn’t mind if it were awful or ugly or spontaneously combusted every time there was a day in the week. That at least would make it characterful and interesting. But it does none of these things. It does nothing.
I can’t abide bores. There’s a man I meet every week — I shan’t say where in case he’s reading this — and never, not once, in four years has he been able to make a single story interesting. Even if he’d just been mugged by a gang of Terminators or gang raped by a rampaging swarm of goblins he’d still fail to bring the tale alive. And pretty soon you’d be wishing you were a horse; so you could fall asleep standing up.
Unfortunately, he never has been raped by goblins or beaten up by Terminators. All that happened in his life last week was a new delivery of paperclips. And staggeringly, he believed that this was interesting enough to bring up in conversation. Honestly, after a few minutes I gave serious thought to stabbing him in the heart.
Of course it helps if you do actually lead an interesting life. I mean, if Rannulf Ffiennes had been an office boy or an IT consultant he probably wouldn’t be much fun down the pub. But when he tells you about sawing off his own fingers using a garden-shed fretsaw — well, it’s kind of hard to mess that up.
I have such a pathological loathing of bores that, and I mean this, I’d rather have dinner with Myra Hindley than dinner with a dullard. I’d rather spend time with Richard Brunstrom, the mad mullah of the traffic Taliban who runs the North Wales police, than spend time with someone from the Aston Martin owners’ club.
Once, when I was working on a local newspaper, I came home at night and told my girlfriend that we’d had some new office furniture delivered to the office. Moments later, when I realised what I’d said, and how deeply uninteresting this was, I left her, the job and moved to London.
Now I have children and I’m forever to be found in the kitchen telling them that if the story they’ve embarked on has no point then they shouldn’t have begun. Simply reeling off the lessons they’ve had at school that day is just not good enough, not unless it’s an anecdotal device, some kind of calm before the crescendo in double Latin when the teacher exploded.
I can’t be bored. I have no ability to deal with it. That’s why I can’t do church sermons, or Big Brother. It’s why I was so irritated by the game of squash in Ian McEwan’s Saturday and why I won’t go to America any more. Those two-hour queues for immigration are just killers.
It’s also why I’m fidgety and distracted today. Because I came to London yesterday in the Volkswagen Jetta, and tomorrow I must go home in it. Which will be like spending an hour in a coma.
I’d love to meet the man who styled the exterior, to find out if he’d done it as some sort of a joke. But mostly I’d like to meet the man who simply didn’t bother at all with the interior. Because looking at that dashboard gives you some idea of what it might be like to be dead.
It’s black. And so are the buttons, and so are the dials, and so are the carpets and so are the seats. To give you some idea of how dull and featureless life is in there, put a cardboard box over your head. And leave it there for 10 years.
Then there’s the engine. This is the 2 litre direct injection jobbie you find in various other VWs and Audis and it’s normally not bad. But like a bloke who could make a UFO encounter seem boring, the Jetta seems to suck all the life out of it.
It’s the same story with the ride and handling. It’s really not bad at all. But it’s hard to spot this when you are stuck in that vegetative no man’s land with a face that’s so numb you don’t even know you’re dribbling.
And now we arrive at the boot lid, which is supposed to boing up when you press a button on the key. But it can’t be bothered. It springs from the traps, rises about a foot and then just gives up.
There’s a similar lack of enthusiasm from the satellite navigation system. Every request is met with a shoulder-sagging teenage harrumph. Perhaps this is because the car’s made in Mexico: so it just wants to sit under a tree all day dozing.
Volkswagen itself was plainly bored to tears when trying to think of things to say about the car. So what you get in the press blurb is chapter and verse on the windscreen wipers, which apparently perform a number of tasks. Further investigation reveals these tasks to be 1) sitting still and 2) moving hither and thither clearing raindrops.
What I’m most interested in is why on earth this car was made in the first place, because it’s actually a Golf with a boot. Or to put it another way, a Golf that’s a bit uglier, a bit heavier, a bit slower, a bit less practical, a bit less economical and a lot more boring to drive. To paraphrase Mark Twain, then, it’s a good Golf ruined.
And yet the model I drove cost £18,500. And to that you must add another £1,200 for an automatic gearbox and £1,675 if you want leather upholstery instead of the Pleblon that comes as standard. I’d also go for the £13.99 “life hammer”, which is designed to be used to break the windows after an accident. But it could also be used by a passenger to hit you on the head when you start dribbling. Or as a tunnelling tool, like the rock hammer in The Shawshank Redemption.
Because believe me, being trapped inside a Jetta is just like being trapped in a 1930s jail. You really would want to escape, whatever the cost.
Anyway, my point is that the Jetta is a £21,000 car. So why not buy a bigger, better and (marginally) more interesting Passat instead?
Or why not save a few bob and buy a vastly superior Golf GTI? Or why not buy 2.1m penny chews? What really pisses me off about the Jetta is that Volkswagen is a company that makes the Bentley Continental and the Lamborghini Gallardo. It has the flair and the panache to make the Bugatti Veyron, and we know it can make a Golf saloon interesting because they’ve proved it with various Seats and Skodas.
But what they’ve come up with here is an automotive Belgium, Tim Henman with wheels. The inside of a ping pong ball. I therefore cannot recommend it to you in any way.
Model Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 SE FSI
Engine 1984cc, four cylinders
Power 148bhp @ 6000rpm
Torque 147 lb ft @ 3500rpm
Transmission Six-speed manual
Fuel 34.4mpg (combined cycle)
Acceleration 0-62mph: 9.2sec
Top speed 131mph
Verdict So boring you want to die
Da Driving Timesonline
Scusate per la lunghezza dell'articolo, ma in alcuni punti è veramente pungente.