Ever since Volkswagen unveiled the brand-new Jetta last year, we've been dying to see the high-performance GLI version. Well, the wait is over. This is the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI.
The GLI is what the GTI hatchback is to the regular Golf. It sits on top of the Jetta range, providing the most performance you can ask for from VW's entry-level four-door. Like the normal Jetta, this new GLI is based on Volkswagen's ever-popular MQB architecture. It gets the GTI's 228-horsepower, 258 lb.-ft. of torque turbocharged inline-four, sending power to the front wheels via a standard six-speed manual or an optional seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. The GTI's electronically controlled torque-sensing limited-slip differential is standard, as are red-painted brakes sourced from the Golf R. The steering is a variable-ratio electrically assisted system.
The 2019 Jetta GLI's suspension is fully independent, with a strut-type setup up front and a multi-link setup in the rear. An adaptive damping system is optional. The black-accented wheels are unique to the GLI, and measure 18 inches in diameter.
The car sits 0.6 inches lower than the standard Jetta, complemented by a blacked-out honeycomb grille, LED lighting all-around, a finned diffusor, dual-chrome exhaust tips, and that signature red accent line that runs the width of the nose. Drivers have four drive modes to choose from: Normal, Sport, Eco, and Custom. Each adjusts the shift points, throttle response, differential, steering, and, if you have it optioned, suspension. There's a bunch of other standard tech as well, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, power seats with memory functions and ventilation, satellite radio, remote start, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and a Beats Audio sound system.
When the new GLI launches in Spring 2019, customers can choose a 35th Anniversary trim, which comes with unique black wheels, a red stripe, a black roof, black mirror caps, a black tail spoiler, unique badging, and standard adaptive dampers.
The 2019 Jetta GLI has a starting MSRP of $25,995, a destination fee of $895—$1600 less than the GTI hatch. The 35th anniversary trim starts at $26,995. Upgrade to the Autobahn trim, and the base price rises to $29,195. If you want a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission, that'll cost you an extra $800 on top of those numbers.