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2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI review: Hot hatch in sedan clothing

The GLI is anything we love about the GTI in a Jetta-formed wrapper. Emme Hall/Roadshow...

The GLI is anything we love about the GTI in a Jetta-formed wrapper.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is what takes place when a incredibly hot hatch grows up. This sporty sedan has all the trappings of its rowdy GTI sibling, packaged in a handsome, mature wrapper.


  • Outstanding dealing with
  • Potent turbo engine
  • Handsome design, if a bit uninteresting

Will not Like

  • Numb steering
  • Negative infotainment tech on the base trim

The GLI sets by itself apart from the normal Jetta with more substantial air intakes, a small entrance spoiler and unique facet skirts. The grille normally takes some styling cues from the GTI with its honeycomb pattern and common pink accent stripe. The GLI sits .six inches decrease to the ground than the normal Jetta and has a unique rear bumper and diffuser, as properly as dual chrome exhaust guidelines. But even with these sporty touches, the GLI nevertheless slides beneath the radar.

The Jetta GLI is powered by a two.-liter turbocharged I4 engine pushing out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-ft of torque — the similar powertrain you will obtain in the GTI. The GLI will come with entrance-wheel travel, and while you can get a 7-pace dual-clutch automated transmission, my tester has the six-pace manual. Score.

My Autobahn trim will come comprehensive with the DCC adaptive damping procedure, with modes for Ordinary, Activity and Eco, as properly as a Custom environment. DCC lets me to dial in that Custom configuration, with unique possibilities for the damping, steering, drivetrain, engine seem, entrance differential and even local weather controls.

Even so, I don’t consider the Custom environment can make a great deal of a variance. Despite striving out a bunch of various setups through my 7 days with the auto, the Ordinary and Activity modes work just wonderful. Significantly of my praise for the normal Activity environment is thanks to the restricted-slip entrance differential that performs with the GLI’s digital differential lock. Torque goes to the entrance wheel with the most grip, there is minor to no understeer and wheelspin is nonexistent.

The two.-liter engine provides 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The base Jetta gets an old-faculty torsion-beam rear suspension, but the GLI updates that hardware to a multilink independent set up. Merged with the GLI’s beefier roll bars and stiffer springs, this sedan is unquestionably prepared to participate in. It quickly settles immediately after pavement undulations, coming out of an off-camber transform with nary a hair out of spot. The steering is rapid, immediate and weighty, nevertheless it could use a bit more in the way of opinions. The 13.4-inch vented entrance brakes are lifted from the Golf R hatchback, paired with eleven.eight-inch diameter brakes in the rear. These stoppers are reliable, whilst I would like the pedal’s engagement level was just a tad larger.

The GLI is a blast on backroads, but it is really wonderful for day-to-day commuting, too. Normal on the GLI are state-of-the-art driver’s aids this sort of as ahead-collision warning, automated unexpected emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-targeted visitors notify. My top rated-amount Autobahn trim goes additional with lane-maintaining guide and adaptive cruise control. Sure, adaptive cruise control performs with a manual transmission, whilst only at larger speeds. There is just not any form of small-pace adhere to and at the time the GLI thinks it will stall, the procedure disengages and the driver normally takes more than.

The Jetta GLI’s fuel economy is respectable, returning an EPA-approximated rating of 24 miles for every gallon in the metropolis, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg mixed. Even immediately after a 7 days of decidedly intense driving, I’m nevertheless capable to hit that 28-mpg regular.

The inside is mainly wonderful, but lacks visual aptitude.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Inside of, the GLI’s cabin tech is very simple and easy. The normal infotainment set up works by using a tiny six.five-inch display, but the Autobahn bumps that up to a nicer eight.-inch monitor functioning VW’s most recent MIB3 technology. This procedure can tackle many Bluetooth cellphone pairings at at the time, and I love that the monitor is angled in the direction of the driver so it is really effortless to see and achieve. MIB3’s menus are laid out thoughtfully so there is just not a huge mastering curve, possibly. Wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Vehicle are equally normal, and in addition to a wireless charging pad, there are a few USB-C ports and a twelve-volt outlet to continue to keep your units juiced.

The Autobahn trim has Volkswagen’s Electronic Cockpit, a 10-inch customizable gauge cluster that provides the driver all varieties of data like automobile knowledge, driver-support characteristic standing and audio and cellphone entry. It can also be customized with various styles, which include a total-monitor navigation perspective. It truly is not rather as fancy-trousers as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, but it is really essentially the similar notion, and a single of my favorite auto inside characteristics.

The GLI Autobahn gets an eight-inch touchscreen.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

It truly is a bit of a bummer that the GLI is just not made available with any quirky inside design touches like the GTI hatchback’s plaid seats. All you will obtain listed here is black fabric or optional leather with contrasting pink stitching. The Jetta at minimum has a 10-shade LED ambient lighting procedure that coordinates with your selected driving method: white for Ordinary, pink for Activity and blue for Eco. If that doesn’t match your mood, you can decide on your possess hues, as properly.

Like the normal Jetta, the GLI’s inside components are great but not terrific. Some of my colleagues lament the more cost-effective plastics and too-smooth seats, in particular considering the fact that the GTI’s cabin feels more quality by comparison. The sedan’s trunk is reasonably spacious at fourteen.1 cubic ft, and my five-foot, nine-inch frame fits just wonderful in the rear seat — my knees don’t contact the entrance seatbacks and my head doesn’t brush the roof.

As considerably as competition go, you can nevertheless snag a Honda Civic Si, or the all-wheel-travel Mazda3 Turbo is a great option, nevertheless it is really more highly-priced. The new Hyundai Elantra N Line has a minor a lot less electrical power than the GLI, but it is really also made available with a manual transmission and has some critically cool design. The Subaru WRX is an additional alternate, but it is really having a minor old, and the Jetta is a nicer all-all over auto.

The GLI undoubtedly flies beneath the radar.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The 2021 Jetta GLI starts at $27,340 which include $995 for place. The Autobahn is a $4,000 upcharge, and while I don’t consider the customizable DCC chassis can make a huge variance, the cabin tech is substantially far better. All in, an Autobahn with the six-pace manual like this take a look at auto fees $32,335.

Of class, the GLI’s most significant competitor is the GTI sitting next to it in the VW showroom, and the Jetta undercuts its Golf equivalent by a number of thousand dollars while nevertheless supplying essentially the similar on-street thrills. The GTI’s hatchback design is a ton more useful, but the GLI feels like an entirely more grown-up package — nevertheless it is really nevertheless more than prepared to get a minor rowdy.