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Is The Volkswagen Jetta A Sports Car? (Answered)

Volkswagen Jetta is a long-term classic known for its performance and high-end engine specs. The latest generation has adopted a much ‘sportier look. But is it really a sports car? The answer to this question is not as straightforward as it seems. This car has 9 generations, and Volkswagen has produced more than 96 models of this car. It has grown in power and specifications with each generation. However, after doing some thorough research, here is what we found.

The Volkswagen Jetta is not a sports car, but rather it is a compact sedan best suited for small families. It is nowhere sleek or powerful enough to be called a sports car. Not a single model of VW Jetta has a power-to-weight ratio greater than 0.07. Plus, it has FWD, while sports cars usually boast an RWD. Finally, it does not have the aerodynamic design that we normally see in sports cars.

However, this classification warrants a more detailed answer. In this article, we have considered several other factors, such as design, power-to-weight ratio, performance, and drive system, to determine VW Jetta’s true type.

Also read: How Many Miles Can A Volkswagen Jetta Last?


Sports cars are known for their aerodynamic design and sleekness. While designing a sports car, the emphasis is on its performance, handling, acceleration, and maneuverability. Naturally, their design should cater to all of these specifications.

A sports car is usually designed with a close-to-ground chassis. This ensures a low center of gravity. Having a low center of gravity offers better handling and stability to the car. Another characteristic trait seen in sports cars is that nearly all come in 2-door coupe body style. Let us have a look at the design and shape of VW Jetta across different generations.

VW Jetta has primarily been a sedan. The engine specs and performance levels have changed across different generations, and the car received several facelifts. Some models of VW Jetta come in the five-door wagon/estate body style, but it is still a rarity. None of them are two-door coupes.

They are also not aerodynamic like normal sports cars. They are high cars with an average ground clearance of 6.1 inches. This is much higher than the average ground clearance of sports cars, i.e., 5.1 inches. Therefore, we cannot call VW Jetta a sports car.

If we look at the shape and size of the VW Jetta, we can see that it is a compact sedan. The latest VW Jetta has a combined passenger and cargo volume of 108.8 cubic feet. This falls in the range of compact cars; therefore, we can classify VW Jetta as a compact sedan.

Also read: Is The Toyota Corolla A Sports Car?

Power-to-weight ratio

Sports cars are generally much powerful for their weight. This allows them to accelerate faster and offer top-notch handling to the driver. Many analysts classify cars based on either power or weight. But the truth is that these features alone cannot determine the true type of a car. For example, we have several sports cars such as FIAT 124 Spider Abarth – which has only 164 hp but is a true sports car. Similarly, several sports cars have insane engine power, but they are not sports cars. Basically, it is the power-to-weight ratio that matters.

Generally, sports cars are small but powerful cars; this essentially means that they have a high power-to-weight ratio. As a result, they have a high value of top-speed, and they can accelerate much faster than normal cars. 

After going through several automobile catalogs, we found no standardized value of the power-to-weight ratio for sports cars. Therefore, after careful examination of the engine specs of several sports cars, we have calculated a value. Generally, sports cars have a power-to-weight ratio greater than 0.07. We will be using this value as our threshold. Let us see the value of the power-to-weight ratio for various models of VW Jetta.

There are 9 generations and 96 models of VW Jetta. The power-to-weight ratio of VW Jetta varies throughout different generations. Here is a detailed table enlisting the power-to-weight ratio of VW Jetta across different generations.

Also read: This Is Where Volkswagen Jetta Are Made

Generation 1 (1992-98)

ModelPower-To-Weight Ratio (hp/lb)
VOLKSWAGEN Vento/Jetta 2.8L VR6 5MT (174 HP)0.064
VOLKSWAGEN Vento/Jetta 1.4L 5MT (60 HP)0.026

Generation 2 (1998-2005)

ModelPower-To-Weight Ratio (hp/lb)
VOLKSWAGEN Bora 1.9L SDI 5MT (68 HP)0.026
  VOLKSWAGEN Bora 2.8L VR6 6MT (204 HP)0.064

Generation 3 (1999-2004)

ModelPower-To-Weight Ratio (hp/lb)
VOLKSWAGEN Bora Variant 1.9L TDI 6MT 4Motion (115 HP)  0.035
VOLKSWAGEN Bora Variant 2.8L V6 6MT 4Motion (204 HP)0.062

Generation 4 (2005-11)

ModelPower-To-Weight Ratio (hp/lb)
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 1.6L 5MT (102 HP)0.036
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 2.0L TFSI 6MT (200 HP)0.066

Generation 5 (2008-present)

ModelPower-To-Weight Ratio (hp/lb)
VOLKSWAGEN Bora (China) 2.0L 5M (120 HP)0.042  
VOLKSWAGEN Bora (China) 1.6L 5MT (100 HP)0.035

Generation 6 (2010-14)

ModelPower-To-Weight Ratio (hp/lb)
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 1.2L TSI 6MT (105 HP)0.0365
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 2.0L TSI 6MT (200 HP)0.064

Generation 7 (2014-18)

ModelPower-To-Weight Ratio (hp/lb)
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 1.2L TSI 6MT (105 HP)0.035  
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 1.4L TSI 7AT (170 HP)0.0512

Generation 8 (2018-21)

ModelPower-To-Weight Ratio (hp/lb)
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 1.4L 5MT FWD (150 HP)0.051
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 2.0L TSI 6AT FWD (210 HP)0.065

Generation 9 (2021-PRESENT)

ModelPower-To-Weight Ratio (hp/lb)
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 1.5L 6MT (158 HP)0.065


Hence, it is clear that not a single model of VW Jetta fulfills the criterion of having a greater power-to-weight ratio than 0.07. Therefore, according to this factor, VW Jetta is not a sports car.

Also read: Is The Kia Stinger A Sports Car?

Drive System

Another important factor often neglected while classifying a car into its respective category is the type of drive system used. Typically, sports cars are equipped with rear-wheel drive. This is because a rear-wheel-drive spreads the weight of a drivetrain equally across its rear and front, offering a greater level of stability to the car. This makes the handling much sharper. This is one of the reasons why sports cars can make sharp turns without tripping over.

When we look at the VW Jetta, we see that each generation comes with an FWD. This is another important factor that establishes the fact that VW Jetta is not a sports car.

Also read: Is The Hyundai Veloster A Sports Car?


The distinguishing factor of a sports car is its performance level. Sports cars are designed with an emphasis on dynamic performance, sharp handling, and top-notch speed. Let us examine the performance levels of a VW Jetta to determine its true type. The following table entails the top speed of the best model of VW Jetta across each generation.

VOLKSWAGEN Vento/Jetta 2.8L VR6 5MT (174 HP)139 mph
VOLKSWAGEN Bora 2.8L VR6 6MT (204 HP)146 mph
VOLKSWAGEN Bora Variant 2.8L V6 6MT 4Motion (204 HP)146 mph
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 2.0L TFSI 6MT (200 HP)131 mph
VOLKSWAGEN Bora (China) 2.0L 5M (120 HP)119 mph
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 2.0L TSI 6MT (200 HP)130 mph
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 1.4L TSI 7AT (170 HP)130 mph
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 2.0L (150 HP)131.9 mph
VOLKSWAGEN Jetta 1.5L 6MT (158 HP)155 mph

It is evident from this table that only the latest generation of VW Jetta fulfills the criterion of having a speed greater than 150 mph. The latest model can be called a sport compact, but overall, VX Jetta cannot be classified as a sports car.

Also read: Is The Chevy Camaro A Sports Or Muscle Car?

Bottom Line

As it is evident from a variety of factors, VW Jetta is not a sports car. It is a compact car available in hatchback, sedan, and five-door wagon/estate body styles. It does not possess the design or the engine specs to be categorized into the sports car category.

Also read: What Gas Does A Volkswagen Jetta Take?