It’s been a long wait. Specifically, our first word from Volkswagen on the hopped-up Jetta GLI dates clear back to October 2017. A litany of spy photos followed – some showing a heavily camouflaged car and others showing the full monte – but it’s all in the past. The Golf GTI with junk in the trunk is officially here, and it’s pretty much everything we expected with one small exception. VW bills the new Jetta GLI as a 2019 model, not 2020. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
Outside, the GLI wears plenty of black and red trim – the hallmarks of any sporty model – but it also gets tweaked bumpers front and rear. There’s a comfortably subtle decklid spoiler at the back, and trapezoid exhaust cutouts on the standard Jetta are swapped for a set of dual chrome exhaust tips. The GLI’s face features a black honeycomb grille, the lights are LED units (standard for the GLI), and behind the unique 18-inch wheels are brakes from the Golf R.
Speaking of performance, the GLI is more than just some snazzy brake calipers and black trim. A limited-slip differential turns the front wheels, while at the back a completely new multi-link independent suspension replaces the torsion-beam arrangement from the standard model. That should certainly help the GLI corner like a sports sedan, but the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot under the hood will likely be the feature drivers notice most. It’s the same rig you’ll find in the GTI Rabbit Edition, making 228 horsepower (170 kilowatts) and 258 pound-feet (350 Newton-meters) of torque.
To manage that power, VW offers drivers a choice. There’s the familiar seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission that comes with a start-stop feature for improved fuel efficiency. The other option is an honest-to-goodness six-speed manual, shifted with a clutch and your hand. That’s the standard-issue gearbox, and frankly, it’s the one we’re eager to try first.
Gallery: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Inside, the GLI is essentially a well-equipped Jetta. The black interior is punctuated with contrasting red accents and stitching, with leather seating surfaces optional. Standard-issue heated sport seats greet front passengers; automatic climate control, auto headlights, 10-color adjustable ambient lighting, rain-sensing wipers, and keyless access with push-button start are also standard. As for driving dynamics, GLI drivers can choose between four modes including a custom setting where individual preferences ranging from throttle response to climate control can be saved.
As interesting as this all sounds, VW is planning to release a 35th Anniversary model that will supplement two other GLI trim levels. It’s not just a badge upgrade either – VW says the special GLI will get the DCC adaptive dampening system for the suspension that can be manually adjusted, along with a fifth “comfort” driving mode. The 35th Anniversary GLI also gets special wheels and all kinds of additional black trim upgrades. And yes, there will be 35th Anniversary badging.
With the Jetta GLI being a 2019 model, we won’t have long to wait before it hits dealer showrooms. Expect the first models to arrive in the spring, which is barely a month away. Pricing will be announced at a later date.
2019 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA GLI DEBUTS AT THE CHICAGO AUTO SHOW
New GLI ups the performance ante with more power, sharper handling, and GTI and Golf R features
• Sixth generation of Volkswagen’s performance sedan has the heart and soul of the GTI
• 2.0-liter TSI® engine puts out 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque
• Performance features include: VAQ limited-slip differential, Golf R brakes, and multi-link
independent rear suspension
• Unique GLI styling includes 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, aggressive front and rear
bumpers, black honeycomb grille, rear spoiler, and dual chrome exhaust
• Standard features include:front and rear LED lighting, 10-color ambient lighting, dual-zone
Climatronic®, Front Assist, Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert
• Available premium features include: Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, panoramic sunroof, heated
and ventilated leather seats, DCC® adaptive damping, and BeatsAudio® sound system
• America’s Best Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty, with 6-years/72,000-miles (whichever
occurs first) of transferable coverage
Chicago, IL (February 7, 2019)– Today, Volkswagen of America, Inc., unveiled the new 2019 Jetta GLI at the
Chicago Auto Show. In 2018, Volkswagen completely overhauled the compact Jetta to cater specifically to
American buyers,with bolder design, more interior space than the outgoing model, and new technology.
Building on the success of that model, today’s GLI ups the performance ante with more power, sharper
handling, and features shared with GTI and Golf R.
“Volkswagen has long been synonymous with small, sporty cars,” said 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 GLItakes the Jetta foundation and adds performance features
from the GolfGTI to give buyers a true sport sedan.”
While the 2019 GLI features the MQB architecture, coupe-like profile and oversized grille of the redesigned
Jetta, it adds sporty styling cues hint at its beefed-up powertrain. Featuring a sport suspension, the GLI sits 0.6
inches lower than a regular Jetta, giving it more planted look. Standard LED projector headlights with LED DRLs
flank a black honeycomb grille with red accent line that harkens to the GTI. Golf R brakes, with red-painted
calipers, stand out in the sleek 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels that are exclusive to GLI. In the rear, standard
LED taillights are joined by a spoiler and unique rear bumper with finned diffusor and dual chrome exhaust tips
to give it truly unique rear view. A 35thAnniversary model features unique black wheels with a red stripe, a black
roof, black mirror caps, black tail spoiler, and 35th anniversary badging inside and out.
Inside, the GLI transforms the Jetta’s modern cabin with nods to the Volkswagen performance family. A black
interior sets the stage for red accents to pop throughout—red stitching is used on the steering wheel, shifter,
armrest and floormats. Comfort sport seats feature red stitching no matter the material; cloth seats on the base
model add grey piping, while red accents peek out of the Autobahn’s perforated leather seats. Diamond flag
décor trim reinforces the sporty nature of the car, as does the standard leather-wrapped sport multifunction
steering wheel and available sport HMI display from the GTI. The 35thAnniversary model has unique seat tags,
floormats, and sill kickplates.
The 2019 GLI is powered by Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection EA888 TSI® engine,
making 228 horsepower(achieved with premium fuel) and 258 pound-feet of torque, 18 more horsepower and
41 lb-ft more than the previous GLI. This engine, shared with GTI,features variable valve timing on the intake
and exhaust sides, as well as variable exhaust valve lift.
The power is taken to the front wheels via a standard six-speed manual transmission, with an available seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission. Automatic transmission models come standard with a
Start/Stop system designed to improve fuel efficiency. This technology stops the engine during idle when the
brake pedal is held (such as when waiting at a stop light). When the brake pedal is released, the engine restarts.
The Jetta GLI features an all-around independent sport suspension, with a strut-type setup at the front and a
multi-link arrangement at the rear. The brakes are shared with the Golf GTI and Golf R, using 13.4-inch diameter
vented front discs. Like the GTI, the GLI is fitted as standard with Volkswagen’s VAQ electronically controlled,
torque sensing limited-slip differential that helps to eliminate understeer, as well as variable ratio electric
steering. The 35thAnniversary model is also fitted with the DCC® adaptive damping system.
Driving Mode Selection comes standard, and allows drivers to customize their vehicle’s dynamic behavior. This
system includes four modes to choose from: “Normal,” “Sport,” “Eco,” and “Custom.”Normal mode gives a
balanced drive experience, while Sport is tuned for a more dynamic throttle and shift response, tighter steering,
and a more spirited exhaust note. Eco mode optimizes shift points, throttle response and climate control
settings for improved fuel economy. Custom allows a driver to tailor the steering,throttle, front differential,
engine note, and climate control settings. The 35thAnniversary model with DCC allows the driver to adjust
damping settings and also adds a fifth “Comfort” mode.
An impressive list of creature comforts and technology come standard on GLI. To keep passengers comfortable,
heated seats, dual-zone Climatronic® automatic climate control, automatic headlights, KESSY® keyless access
with push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are standard.
Standard technology features include Driver Personalization, App-Connect technology that offers compatible
smartphone integration with the three major platforms—Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®—and
10-color customizable wrap-around ambient lighting. Available features include a sunroof, the Volkswagen
Digital Cockpit display with unique GLI graphics, 400-watt BeatsAudio® system, Volkswagen Car-Net®
connected vehicle services, SiriusXM® radio, Voice Control, a second USB port, power driver seat with memory
and lumbar, ventilated seats, and remote start.
The GLI’s technology features extend beyond the cabin to include a comprehensive suite of standard safety and
driver assistance technology. Standard features include Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency
Braking (Front Assist), Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert, and the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.
Every GLI model will come with the People First Warranty, America’s Best Bumper-to-Bumper Limited
Warranty. The warranty provides coverage for six-years or 72,000-miles (whichever occurs first), and the
warranty can be transferred to a subsequent owner throughout the remainder of its duration.
The 2019Volkswagen Jetta GLI will be available in two regular trim levels and a 35thAnniversary Edition. Itis
expected to begin arriving at U.S. Volkswagen dealers in the Spring of 2019.