Since 1984, the Jetta GLI has basically been a GTI with four doors and a trunk. Until now. With the introduction of the all-new 2011 Jetta, that relationship has become more distant, as this is the very first time the Jetta rides on its own platform. So when VW fanatics hear about a new Jetta GLI, an adjustment of expectations is required. The new Jetta was built to appeal to a greater number of North American buyers, so even dressed up a bit the GLI lacks the edginess of the prior GLI’s.
The drivetrain of the GLI is identical to the current GTI, meaning the familiar 2.0L turbocharged four rated at 200hp, paired with either a six-speed manual or twin-clutch DSG. Although the Jetta is larger than the car it replaces, VW claims the new GLI is a lighter car. Still, with the Jetta aimed to please more mainstream buyers, it remains to be seen if the spirit of past GLI’s live on.
The Jetta GLI will be released as a 2012 model, and will be available in three trim levels. The base GLI starts at $23,495USD, and comes standard with 17″ wheels, a 6.5″ touch screen stereo and multi-function computer display. The GLI Autobahn starts at $25,545 and adds 18″ wheels, sunroof, two-zone auto climate control, heated leatherette seats and a Fender premium audio system. Finally, the GLI Autobahn with Nav starts at $26,445 and, as you guessed, adds GPS navigation as well as push button start.
While we wait to see how the new Jetta GLI performs, and if it catches the spirit of its past, I want to remind the VW faithful there is no reason to be discouraged for one simple reason-this time around, VW has a four door GTI.