It is quite clear that vehicle performance has improved tremendously since the turn of the millennium. Cars with over 1,000 horsepower are more common than ever, and EVs are getting cheaper. But a new video from TFLclassics reveals how much performance has changed for the more mainstream model by pitting the new base Volkswagen Jetta against the 2003 VW Passat W8 in a drag race.
Powering the nearly 20-year-old Passat is Volkswagen’s 4.0-liter W8 engine. It produces 270 horsepower (198 kilowatts) and 273 pound-feet (370 Newton-meters) of torque. It powers VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system via a six-speed manual gearbox.
The Jetta drops power with a much smaller engine by comparison. The turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine produces 158 hp (116 kW) and 184 lb-ft (249 Nm) of torque, with power being sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual. While the Jetta is down power, it weighs about 1,000 pounds (453 kilograms) lighter than the Passat, although the new Jetta is longer and wider.
Passat got the better start of the line in the quarter mile race. Its all-wheel drive and extra power allowed it to take an early lead, which the Jetta couldn’t cover. The Passat took 16.82 seconds to complete the quarter mile, while the Jetta needed 17.23 seconds. However, Jetta finished the race at a higher trap speed.
The race rolled in much closer, negating the W8’s all-wheel-drive advantage. However, the Jetta still struggled to beat the Passat, finishing closer to the old sedan but still firmly in second place. The only competition Jetta won was the final brake test. A newer braking system and lighter curb weight allow the new Volkswagen to stop at shorter distances than the Passat.
The new updated Jetta may not match the performance capabilities of the old Passat W8, but it comes close. The video shows how far power and performance have come since the turn of the century. The Passat W8 was an expensive car in its time, but 20 years later, the base Jetta is now biting its rear bumper, and it’s also much more affordable.