Volkswagen has released first 'official' photos of its fully redesigned Jetta (Bora in other markets), which goes on sale next March in the US and Canada.

It will make its public debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show on January 5, where its price will also be announced

The Mexican-built Jetta/Bora line is also expected to be widely exported to Europe and other markets as the VW Mexico unit becomes the main production centre for what is effectively a saloon version of the latest Golf (not yet launched in North America). The current Bora is built in Europe, South Africa and China.

In contrast to Europe, and most other VW markets, the Jetta model is Volkswagen's most popular in the US, accounting for about 40% of the brand's overall volume in that market. VW claims it is "perennially the number-one selling European nameplate sold in the US".

The redesigned Jetta is the fifth generation of a sedan line that first went on sale in 1980 in the US. Over 2.2 million have been sold there and in Canada.

Larger than its predecessor, the 2005 Jetta gains fully independent suspension with multi-link rear axle, and a new 2.5-litre, 150bhp base engine replacing the current car's two-litre, 115 hp four. A new optional six-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic 'manual' function includes a 'sport' mode.

Volkswagen is also introducing DSG, essentially an automated manual transmission system, for diesel versions, as already used on European Golf and Touran models. There is no official word on which diesel engines will be available - fuel and emission control issues have kept the US engine line about a generation behind those sold in Europe though more up to date versions recently debuted with the larger Passat.

Electro-mechanical steering system, a new electronic stability programme (ESP), and new-generation ABS all-disc brakes will be standard.

VW said the new Jetta has a roomier interior with larger luggage compartment and more legroom and occupant space. Safety features include front side thorax airbags, side curtain protection (front and rear, crash-active front headrests, crash-optimised foot pedals that descend upon serious impact, daytime running lights (DRL), three- point safety belts at every position, adjustable headrests for all five occupants, front belt pre-tensioners with load limiters, and safety belts with emergency locking retractors.

The new Jetta has a stronger body than its predecessor built using an automated, laser-welding system. There are almost 14 times more laser-welded seams than in the previous Jetta.

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