2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI First Look
UPDATE: Our 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI First Review is now available
- Jetta GLI gets GTI’s turbo 228-horsepower 2.0-liter engine
- 6-speed manual or 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
- Independent rear suspension added
- Beefy brakes from the Golf R
- Honeycomb grille similar to GTI
- Pricing starts at $25,995 plus $895 delivery
Joining the legendary Golf GTI, the performance-oriented 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI has returned to the German automaker’s lineup. This sharp-looking front-wheel-drive sport sedan is based on the 7th-generation Jetta chassis that was new for 2019, but replaces the torsion beam rear suspension with an independent multilink setup.
Power for the new GLI comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 228 horsepower, the same powerplant found in the U.S.-spec GTI. It also sends a healthy 258 lb-ft of torque to the GLI’s front wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic.
While previous Jetta GLI models were sporty, they never were quite up to the level of a Golf GTI. With the 2019 GLI that has changed. Let’s take a closer look at the new Jetta GLI, which rides 0.6 inches lower than a standard Jetta and is a car that VW says has “the body of a sedan and the heart of a GTI.”
In addition to the sport-tuned multilink rear suspension and the GTI’s powertrain, the 2019 Jetta GLI benefits from a limited-slip differential and beefy disc brakes from the Golf R. This proven hardware is complemented by unique GLI styling that includes aggressive front and rear bumpers along with a black honeycomb grille, a rear spoiler and a dual chrome exhaust. Also adding flair are 18-inch wheels exclusive to the GLI. Further enhancing the look are red calipers of the Golf R brakes.
Goodness continues inside the new Jetta GLI, where available features include a digital instrument panel, a panoramic sunroof, heated and ventilated leather seats, adaptive suspension damping and a BeatsAudio sound system. Standard GLI fare includes front and rear LED lighting, 10-color ambient interior lighting, dual-zone climate control, a forward collision warning system, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic assist and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility.
“Volkswagen has long been synonymous with small, sporty cars,” explains Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “The redesigned 2019 Jetta proved once more that its combination of design, technology and value continues to resonate with buyers. The 2019 GLI takes the Jetta foundation and adds performance features from the Golf GTI to give buyers a true sport sedan.”
The GTI engine
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is powered by VW’s 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injected 4-cylinder engine that puts out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which represents 18 more horsepower and 41 more lb-ft of torque than the previous GLI. This engine, from the GTI, sends power to the front wheels via a standard 6-speed manual transmission or an available 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. Of note, the GLI automatic has a standard Start/Stop system for improved fuel efficiency. As in the GTI, the Jetta GLI is fitted with a standard electronically controlled limited-slip differential to help reduce understeer during aggressive cornering.
The GLI S starts at $25,995 and includes a 6-speed manual transmission. Standard equipment includes a sport suspension (0.6 inches lower than a regular Jetta); 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; LED Projector headlights; LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) and taillights; black honeycomb grille with red accent line; side mirrors with integrated turn signals; rear spoiler; rear bumper with finned diffusor and dual chrome exhaust tips; leather-wrapped multi-function sport steering wheel and shift knob with red stitching; black roof liner; stainless steel pedal caps; Comfort sport cloth seats with red stitching and grey piping; heated front seats; 10-color customizable wrap-around ambient lighting; keyless access with push-button start; dual-zone automatic climate control; rearview camera; automatic headlights; rain-sensing wipers; auto-dimming rearview mirror; electric parking brake; and 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity for compatible devices, one USB port, six speakers, and App-Connect for compatible devices, enabling integration with the three major smartphone platforms—Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink. Standard driver-assistance features include Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission GLI S starts at $26,795.
GLI 35th Anniversary Edition
Building off of the S trim, the GLI 35th Anniversary Edition starts at $26,995 and features a standard 6-speed manual transmission. The trim level boasts 18-inch dark grey aluminum-alloy wheels with red rim accents; black roof, mirror caps and rear spoiler; 35th Anniversary Edition fender badging, scuff plates, seat tags, and front floor mats; and adaptive damping. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission version of the GLI 35th Anniversary Edition starts at $27,795.
Also building off the S trim, the GLI Autobahn starts at $29,195 and features a standard 6-speed manual. The long list of standard features includes a panoramic sunroof; 10.25-inch Volkswagen Digital Cockpit display; 400 Watt BeatsAudio system with eight speakers plus a subwoofer; Volkswagen Car-Net remote vehicle services; leather upholstery; ventilated front seats; power driver’s seat with memory functionality and power lumbar; remote start; alarm system; and 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with a 3-month satellite radio subscription, voice control, and two USB ports. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission GLI Autobahn starts at $29,995. All prices exclude $895 destination.
There's more to see! Check out all of the new models that debuted at the Chicago Auto Show