• 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


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.”

Performance features

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.

Interior features

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.”

Also: Get your first look at the new and redesigned cars of 2019

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.

35th Anniversary model

A special 35th Anniversary model of this new Jetta GLI also will be available.  It sports unique black wheels with a red stripe, and it also wears a black roof and mirror caps along with a black rear spoiler and 35th anniversary badging. The black interior with red accents looks great, accented by red stitching used on the steering wheel, shifter, armrest and floormats. The sport seats, regardless of fabric, also feature red stitching.

The 35th Anniversary GLI also boasts active suspension damping and unique seat tags, floormats and sill plates. While all new GLIs offer a choice of driving modes (Normal, Sport, Eco, Custom), the 35th Anniversary GLI goes one step further with a fifth mode called Comfort. Each of these modes tailors the GLI’s throttle, shift response and electrically assisted steering to the driver’s liking, while the Custom setting will please aggressive drivers by allowing the locking factor of the front differential to be adjusted.

There's more to see! Check out all of the new models that debuted at the Chicago Auto Show

What will the new Jetta GLI cost?

Volkswagen hasn’t announced pricing yet, but we do know that the 2019 VW Jetta GLI goes on sale this spring, in two trim levels and as a 35th Anniversary model. For a bit of perspective, consider that the top-of-the-line 2019 Jetta SEL Premium currently costs about $28,000, while the 2019 VW GTI tops out at about $38,000. 

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