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The Mk1 Jetta
Also known as the Atlantic & Fox
The Mk1 Jetta was introduced to the world at the 1979 Frankfurt Auto Show. Production of the first generation began in August 1979 at the Wolfsburg plant. In Mexico, the Mark 1 was known as the "Volkswagen Atlantic". This generation was also produced in SFR Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, under the joint venture Tvornica Automobila Sarajevo (TAS) for the Balkan area.
The Volkswagen Atlantic was introduced in the Mexican market in February 1981. The sole competition for the Atlantic in the market the Renault 18. The Mark 1 continued to be manufactured and marketed in South Africa after the introduction of the Mark 2, badged as the "Fox". South African Foxes have the regular Golf front treatment, with round headlamps rather than the square ones used internationally. The Fox, like its CitiGolf sibling, received a facelift around 1990, with bigger, more rounded bumpers and a new grille. The Fox continued to be built until at least 1999.
The first generation was met with generally positive reviews. Testers found the car handled precisely, although the lack of power steering contributed to heavy steering when parking. The brakes worked well for a car of the day, but some brake fade was evident. The ride was taut but firm in the typical style of German cars, with large bumps being well absorbed by the suspension but smaller undulations coming through. Reviews differed on noise levels, some found the car fairly quiet, while others thought the engine contributed to higher noise levels. Critics found the seating comfortable, but noted that the rear seat lacked sufficient head room. Most major controls and displays such as the speedometer and climate controls were well liked, but some secondary switches were not well placed or intuitive. The automatic seat belts in some markets that were attached to the door frame made it impossible to forget to buckle the belt, but it was difficult to enter the car with a package in hand. Writers liked that the luggage space was generous, especially for a car of its size. Additionally, numerous storage areas also gave practicality to the sedan. In one test, the car scored nearly as high as the more expensive Volkswagen Passat/Dasher and the Audi 80/4000.
Engine choices varied considerably depending on the local market. Most were based on 827 engines of the era. Choices in petrol engines ranged from a 1.1 litre four-cylinder engine producing 37 kW (50 hp; 50 PS), to a 1.8-litre I4 which made 82 kW (110 hp; 111 PS) and 150 newton metres (111 lbf⋅ft) of torque. Some cars were equipped with carburetors, while others were fuel-injected using K or KE Jetronic supplied by Robert Bosch GmbH. Diesel engine choices included a 1.6-litre making 37 kilowatts (50 hp; 50 PS) and a turbocharged version of the same engine which produced 51 kilowatts (68 hp; 69 PS) and 130 newton metres (96 lbf⋅ft) of torque.
The car was available as a two-door sedan (replacing the aging rear-engined, rear-wheel drive Volkswagen Beetle 2-door sedan in the United States and Canada) and four-door sedan body styles, both of which shared a traditional three-box design. Like the Volkswagen Golf Mk1, its angular styling was penned at ItalDesign, by Giorgetto Giugiaro. Styling differences could be found depending on the market. In most of the world, the car was available with composite headlamps, while in the US, it was only available with rectangular sealed beam lamps due to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 108 (FMVSS 108). The suspension setup was identical to the Golf and consisted of a MacPherson strut setup in front and a twist-beam rear suspension. It shared its 2,400 mm (94.5 in) wheelbase with its hatchback counterpart, although overall length was up by 380 millimetres (15 in). The capacity of the luggage compartment was 377 litres (13.3 ft3), making the Jetta reasonably practical. To distinguish the car from the Golf, interiors were made more upscale in all markets. This included velour seating and color coordinated sill to sill carpeting.