Had the pleasure of driving a new 2011 around for the last couple of days, as my way of getting to and from the Los Angeles Auto Show. Knowing that VW had taken some cost out of the car, I was prepared to be disappointed. I wasn't. Although the dash plastic is indeed a bit harder than the soft-touch material of the previous Jetta, I came away impressed with the quality of the interior, especially given the Jetta's sub-$15,000 starting price. What's more, I really appreciated the added room inside, particularly the extra width and generous back seat. Full size adults can fit in back without complaint, something that really wasn't possible in the previous car. On a similarly positive note, the new Jetta chassis has the expected tight feel, and the trunk remains cavernous—always a Jetta strong point. I've never been a big fan of the 5-cylinder 2.5-liter engine with its coarse almost agricultural character, but the power is adequate and the Jetta clearly benefits from lots of sound-deadening. The gearbox is a smooth-shifting 5-speed manual. Why no 6-speed, you might ask? It's the cost monster rearing its head again, which also explains why new Jettas, apart from the upcoming turbo 2.0-liter GLI models, have a twist-beam rear axle instead of a true independent setup. And remember, that sub-$15,000 Jetta is powered by a version of the old single-cam 8-valve 2.0-liter with 115 bhp. Haven't driven that car yet.