Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: March 14, 2017
Every once and a while, a keen-eyed observer might spot a Volkswagen Jetta on the road that stands out from the rest – the GLI. Think of it like a Jetta pumped full of adrenaline, and since the sixth generation variant was back introduced in 2012, the Jetta GLI has received major updates nearly every year. Surprisingly, even with #Dieselgate shenanigans, Jettas have become Volkswagen’s sales champions, putting more units on the road annually than the Golf, Passat, and Beetle combined.
The new Jetta lineup already includes four trim choices ranging from $16,395 to $28,495, with the GLI starting at $34,995 – the latter has quite the expectation to stand out and serve as the flagship and inspirational model of the lineup.
A lot of VW fans like to boast that the GLI is to the Jetta as the GTI is to the Golf. Although this may be a valid comparison, many believe that VW has shortchanged any prospective GLI buyers. You see the Golf GTI is already in its 7th generation framed with the lightweight and rigid MQB platform that also underpins the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Tiguan. The GTI also harnesses a more powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that makes more horsepower and loads more torque (258 lb-ft. vs. 207 lb-ft.).
For the record, the GLI is still using the same motor and platform that was in the last generation GTI. Even with these aging setbacks however, I’m still happy to report the GLI will go like stink. Stomp on the gas pedal and the motorcycle-like piston-clucking erupts into a satisfying guttural roar to the redline. There’s no trace of torque steer either, no high-revving hysterics or any turbo whine – just a strong, linear, and brisk pace of acceleration that pulls you down the road whilst pushing you into the seat back.
The dual-clutch transmission (DSG) will blip through lightning-fast upshifts, accenting the motor beautifully. While the GLI does come standard with a more engaging six-speed manual, the DSG is the perfect compromise for drivers always stuck in city traffic. Someone looking to have the fun of a manual without the hassle will find solace in the DSG’s approachability and everyday comfort.
The GLI’s cosmetic cues are quite subtle – chrome tips on the tailpipes, a unique and slightly more aggressive black honeycombed grille with added red trim and red painted brake calipers – which contrasted nicely against the White Silver Metallic paintjob I had on my tester. Thanks to the slightly stretched wheelbase over the Golf GTI (+20 mm), the GLI offers near-midsize accommodation inside with a humongous trunk and significantly more interior legroom in the second row. Even with its sport suspension, the GLI also has a somewhat more blasé, more grownup demeanor.
While entry-level Jettas will start off pretty basic, the GLI takes the cake, adding in six-way adjustable front sport seats, aluminum sport pedals, ambient lighting, front fog lamps, a blacked-out headliner and pillars, GLI sill plates, a Cross Differential System (XDS), illuminated vanity mirrors, LED darkened taillights, and 18-inch ‘Mallory’ alloy wheels.
A Fender Premium Audio system with eight speakers and a sub provides the driving soundtrack, and the interior is resplendent in a typically Teutonic dark shade of Titan Black leather, accented with red stitching on the seats, dash, doors and steering wheel.
As tested, this GLI Autobahn rings in at $36,395 with the DSG automatic ($1,400 option). This puts the GLI right on top of a fully loaded Ford Focus ST, but there’s no auto-tranny available for that car. A fully loaded Subaru WRX does offer a capable all-wheel drive system and a few more driver assistance features but that clocks in a few grand over the GLI’s price tag.
This leaves the GLI well priced in a very small, niche sub-class. And, of course, that sum nets an upgraded interior over lesser Jettas, technology that’s up to date like Apple CarPlay, Volkswagen’s MIB II infotainment unit, and one of the most spacious compacts on the market. For 2017, the Volkswagen GLI may not be the four-door GTI you were hoping for, but it is still well equipped. Think of it as the adult who can let loose on the weekends, partying it up, but still show up to work Monday morning freshly shaven and ready to get to work.
型号 Model: 2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
顏色 Paint Type: White Silver Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $34,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $36,395
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,651
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,627 / 1,778 / 1,437
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,430
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 210 hp @ 5,300 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 207 lb-ft @ 1,700 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic (DSG)
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, FWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 9.8 / 7.0
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 8.5