VW hatches teach Jetta new tricks

There is a new Jetta in town. It takes inspiration from cars like the Golf GTI and Polo GTI. Meet the faster, hotter, and better Jetta – the Jetta GLI.

Volkswagen is known for making cars for masses. These include hatchbacks, sedans, crossovers, and even wagons. Interestingly, it also makes some performance-oriented models like the Golf GTI, Polo GTI, and Up! GTI – all hatchbacks. This time around, VW has given one of its sedans performance-enhancement goodies. This result is what VW calls the Jetta GLI. You read that right – not GTI but GLI. Does that make the Jetta any better or worse than models using GTI suffix? Let’s find out.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI – Photo Gallery

What’s new about the Volkswagen Jetta GLI?

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI is based on the 2019 Jetta. This means it features the MQB platform which underpins cars like the Tiguan, Golf, and Passat, among others. Compared to the regular Jetta, the Jetta GLI sits 0.6 inches lower to the ground, courtesy of the sport suspension being used. Up front, the black honeycomb grille of the rad Jetta gets a red accent line. Don’t miss the GLI badge in the grille.


On the sides, the 18-inch wheels cover brakes (with red calipers) borrowed from the Golf R. These wheels are exclusive to the Jetta GLI, VW says. Not to forget, there is a GLI badge on either front fender. Most changes on the Jetta GLI feature at the rear end.


The rear gets a trunklid spoiler, dual chrome exhaust tips (one on either side), and diffuser insert in rear bumper. A special 35th Anniversary model features black wheels with red stripe, black roof, black mirror caps, black tail spoiler, and 35th Anniversary badging inside and out.


The interior of the car is draped in black and has red accents. These can be found in areas like the steering wheel, gear shifter, arm rest, and floor mats. The car has sports seats and can be upholstered in cloth or perforated leather.


Not to be missed on the inside are VW Digital Cockpit, heated seats, dual-zone auto climate control A/c, auto-dimming inside rear view mirror, 400w Beats Audio sound system, 10-colour customisable ambient lighting, and powered driver’s seat with memory function.


The Volkswagen Jetta GLI doesn’t skimp on safety features either. Some of the safety aids on the car are forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear traffic alert system, and automatic post-collision braking system. The Jetta GLI is offered with a 6-year/72,000 mile (over 1,00,000 km).


This brings me to the Jetta GLI’s mechanical bits. This car is powered by a turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder TSI petrol engine (internal code – EA888).


It makes 228HP power and 350Nm torque. A catch here is that it makes 228HP power only on premium fuel. The best bit? It can be had with a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission, either unit powering the front wheels.


The DSG-equipped Volkswagen Jetta GLI also packs auto start-stop technology which turns off the engine when the car is at a stop and brake pedal is pressed.


Lifting your foot off the brake pedal will automatically start the car. This rad Jetta gets VW’s VAQ torque-sensing electronic limited slip differential. The 35th Anniversary model is equipped with Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) system as well.


The ‘regular’ Jetta GLI gets four driving modes – Normal, Sport, Eco, and Custom. The 35th Anniversary model gets an additional Comfort mode. These modes alter the throttle and gear shift response, steering behaviour, exhaust note, and even A/c behaviour. The DCC-equipped car gets additional adjustment for the dampers too.


Speaking of dampers, the Jetta GLI gets strut suspension up front and a multi-link setup at the rear. Which brings me to a somewhat sore point – the Jetta GLI’s availability is limited to certain markets like the US. Those living in the US will get this car by the spring of 2019.

Is the Volkswagen Jetta GLI worth consideration?

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI is worth consideration for a few reasons. Firstly, the Jetta GLI shows how a boring, every day car can be made fun by giving it more than a cosmetic upgrade.


Secondly, it also shows that a rad car can be had for a lot less than a six-figure sum and it can still be used daily. Thirdly, if a car company wants to be taken seriously by enthusiasts, they need to offer a manual gearbox option.


The fact that Volkswagen Jetta GLI is so generously equipped means that comfort and performance can co-exist in an automobile. Lastly, a shout-out to that amazing 6-year/72,000 mile transferable warranty being offered with Jetta GLI.


Time for you to think of a reason why this car isn’t worth consideration, if you think it isn’t. I know it is. Too bad I have no idea if the Jetta nameplate will return to India in future.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI – Specs at a Glance

Specifications Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Price TBA
Engine Direct-injected, turbocharged, 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder EA888 TSI petrol
Power 228HP (on premium fuel)
Torque 350Nm
Transmission 6-speed manual/7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic
Front Suspension McPherson struts with coil-over dampers 
Rear Suspension Multi-link with coil-over dampers
Front Brake 340mm disc brakes
Rear Brake Disc brakes
Length 4,702mm
Width 1,799mm
Height 1,458mm
Wheelbase 2,686mm
Mileage N/A
Fuel Tank Capacity 50 litres

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