Make no mistake — I’m a trunk man. I just dig ‘em. Hatchbacks are cool and all, but give me a well-proportioned trunk with a decent amount of cubic feet for cargo, and I’m all in. To that, I’ll also add that I like sedans as opposed to coupes. Not only are they more versatile, but also driving a sedan makes me feel like an adult, whereas a hatch sends me back to my early 20s. That said, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is the adult version of the Golf GTI, sans the more upscale interior.
With 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, it’s got plenty of grunt, but more importantly, as an adult, I feel relatively comfortable behind the wheel. But the real question is, does it surpass the GTI in any way? Keep reading to find out!
2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Exterior
VW has fitted just enough aggression into the GLIs bodywork to make it stand out over others in the Jetta lineup. The black honeycomb grille with red GLI badging and accent stripe is a nice touch, as are the LED trimmed projector beam headlamps and LED tail lamps. The front fascia has a more aggressive look too, and with the body covered in Volkswagen’s Pure Gray paint, the subtle touches of the red brake calipers and GLI side badging come into play nicely.
Then there are the 18-inch alloys that wear 225/45-series performance rubber. They fill out the wheel wells nicely, and aid in giving the GLI a much sportier presence than the standard Jetta models. With a small ducktail spoiler on the rear deck lid, a shark fin antenna on the roof, chrome dual exhaust tips along with a slick looking lower diffusor, those staring at the rear of the GLI will also get the impression that this isn’t a standard model VW. The good part though is that as sporty as the GLI is, it’s not over the top. Never once did I feel like a boy-racer or a tuner racer wannabe, but instead, an adult who simply enjoys driving a smart looking, sporty sedan.
2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Interior
As with most Volkswagens, the designers have seen fit to put the emphasis of the GLIs cabin on those who sit behind the wheel. The dash, for instance, is angled in a fashion that allows one easy and more importantly, intuitive access to the slew of technical upgrades. They include a new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system that houses media functions, phone pairing, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, as well as the in-car settings. Directly below are the manual controls for the dual climate HVAC system. Then there is the digital cockpit that replaces traditional analog gauges and that can be configured in a variety of ways to showcase the vehicle information that the driver deems most important.
And while the interior of the Jetta is still filled with a sea of soft-touch materials and hard plastics in different shades of gray, Volkswagen has managed to incorporate some high-end touches that many folks will enjoy. Black leather seating surfaces with contrasting red stitching reside throughout the cabin along with a six-way power adjustable driver’s seat with memory, heat, and ventilation.
There’s also ten-color ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof, a flat-bottomed leather covered steering wheel with crosshatched red accents, and a trunk with a rear seat pass-through that will house 14.1 cubic-feet of your stuff. As the Jetta is a sedan, rear passengers also have easy access to and from the cabin, with the rear seating area providing ample room and comfort for most adults. In short, VW has paid attention to what consumers are looking for, and with the GLI, they got it right.
2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Performance
The beauty of the GLI is that all the important bits from its pricier GTI brother are present. It has the same 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four that makes 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The seven-speed DSC automatic transmission is also an option, as is a six-speed manual. There’s also firmer suspension tuning, a limited-slip differential, large 13.4-inch front rotors, as well as progressive variable-ratio steering that’s more responsive at higher speeds. The truth is, the Jetta GLI is a hoot to drive aggressively. There is a little front-end push in hard corners, but only at the limit. All other times, the GLI exhibits handling characteristics that are incredibly good. It’s well balanced, accelerates to 60 mph in just 5.6-seconds, and it’ll do it all with little to no drama.
For those who like a little adjustability, the GLI also comes with four different drive modes — Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom. We found Normal to be the sweet spot, as ECO mode simply cut too much power, and in Sport, I just couldn’t get used to the artificial intake noise that was being pumped through the speakers.
As a complete package, the GLI just works. It’s fun, the seats provide great comfort and support, and as mentioned, when pushed, the GLI really does deliver a great driving experience. Is it a sports car? No. Instead, it’s a fun performance-oriented sedan with sporting handling and braking manners that’s loads of fun to drive. Also factor in its EPA fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg during combined driving*, and one can argue that there’s no better compact sports sedan on the market for the as-tested price of just $31,185**.
2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Safety
With airbags throughout the cabin, a tire pressure monitoring system, traction and stability control, electronic brake pressure distribution along with a host of other safety features, the Jetta GLI ensures that you will arrive at your destination safely.
To further explore the safety features of the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI head on over to VW.com.
2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Overall
With a refined and sporting presence, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI delivers big on performance and good looks. There’s nothing over the top here, but instead, a nicely appointed and more importantly, fun car, for a price that most entry-level performance buyers can afford.
Drop by your local your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealer today to check one out!
*Fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition.
**Vehicle MSRP of $31,185 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.