The 1999 Volkswagen Jetta Was a New Car in Mexico for Decades

I still remember when the fourth-generation Volkswagen Jetta was redesigned. This happened for the 2005 model year, and I remember thinking that it simply wasn’t the same. The new Jetta was better, of course, but it lost the simple, unusually elegant look that the outgoing model had.

Apparently, I was not alone in thinking this.

I say this because I recently discovered that Volkswagen offered the fourth-generation Jetta as a brand-new car in Mexico long after it was discontinued everywhere else. Indeed, the fourth-generation Jetta was replaced in Mexico in 2005, just like in other markets, but the "old" one lived on as a budget-priced alternative.

Now, this isn’t especially uncommon, even in the United States where the outgoing Nissan Rogue and Chevrolet Malibu lived on as entry-level alternatives to new models. But the weird thing about the Jetta is just how long it lasted. Volkswagen Mexico renamed the fourth-generation Jetta the "Clasico" in 2010, and continued sales for another half-decade, finally ending sales of the fourth-generation Jetta — which ended everywhere else in 2005 — for the 2015 model year.

Maybe the most interesting thing about this is the fact that it actually sold pretty well during this period. Indeed, the fourth-generation Jetta was the best-selling car in Mexico for several months as late as 2009, years after it was no longer for sale elsewhere. Obviously, sales declined over the next few years, and the Clasico was eventually replaced with the smaller Vento south of the border, bringing this unusual chapter to a close.

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