A designer's look at the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta

How do you design a new car? Boldly and carefully.

The all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta reflects years of exacting design work by a dedicated team that had to anticipate American market trends, meet a host of engineering requirements, and eventually craft a look that can appeal to millions.

“Cars are always reflecting society, fashion, architecture — they’re part of the development of mankind,” says Klaus Bischoff, head of design for Volkswagen. “From the beginning, we said we need to have a breakthrough and create a new design language for this product.”

As the seventh iteration of the compact sedan, the new Jetta has a long design history that’s made an impression on American roads — from the squared-up look of the 1980 model to the Bauhaus-inspired designs of the fourth generation. With the move to a new chassis and all-new bodywork, designers had a high level of freedom to push the Jetta’s design forward with an American audience in mind — without losing the classic precision that’s a VW hallmark.

“We wanted to create a design that stands out,” says Bischoff, “so when you see it on the road it is charismatic.”

The front of every car serves as its face, and with all-new standard LED daytime running lights, designers were able to create a unique light “signature” for the Jetta. Bischoff notes that, as with other new Volkswagen vehicles like the upcoming 2019 Arteon, the grille and lights are combined into one wide graphic, creating a lower, sleeker appearance.

With increased fuel efficiency as an ever-present goal, aerodynamics played a larger role in the Jetta’s design than ever before. It’s easy to make a car look sleek, or to stand out, but it’s hard to do both — often a crease or feature such as larger wheels that adds character also adds aerodynamic drag in the process. So the Jetta’s design team used that challenge to their advantage and incorporated touches such as the discreet spoiler integrated into the trunk lid and an “air curtain” design in the front bumper that calms airflow to a highly competitive 0.27 coefficient of drag.

“Most of the time, you look at cars from the back,” says Bischoff, “so it’s important to recognize it.” The rear of the Jetta has a completely reworked approach; it gathers several lines that run the length of the bodywork — emphasizing the longer wheelbase — combined with a taillight/reflector that integrates with the design of the decklid. The deep creases also add what Bischoff calls a “slim-fit, athletic” appearance.

Another key addition was adding two new colors to the Jetta’s palette: Sage Green and the vivid Habanero Orange for Jetta owners who want a warmer, more distinctive color that stands out from the crowd.

The interior takes a major step forward in technology, with highlights from the available Volkswagen Digital Cockpit1 to available 10-Color Ambient Lighting accents that were once only available features in luxury cars. Every line in the interior emphasizes the increased space and glass — or “daylight opening” in automotive design terms — but also improves usability for the driver. Despite the more dramatic slope of the roof line, headroom isn’t compromised, and the new optional panoramic sunroof can also give the interior a new feeling of freedom.

Taken as a whole, says Bischoff, the all-new 2019 Jetta is “much more emotional, more progressive, and more innovative. Volkswagen design is always about going in new directions.”