When you hear “German sports sedan,” you probably think of powerful acceleration, taut handling, long-distance comfort and luxury and the latest in onboard entertainment technology. You probably also think “$50,000.” The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI, arriving soon, delivers true German sportiness for less than half that number.
Volkswagen introduced the new-generation Jetta sedan last year, offering a new standard in roominess and value for the class. Being a VW, the Jetta, of course, provides a sporty, lively driving feel that you just don’t get in mainstream compact sedans. Driving enthusiasts, however, have been waiting for something even sportier – and it’s about to arrive. The 2012 VW Jetta GLI will combine a 200-hp turbocharged engine, sport-tuned four-wheel independent suspension and the remarkable six-speed DSG® transmission that allows both lightning-quick manual and automatic shifting.
If things like “turbo engine” and “six-speed DSG” seem like they belong in expensive German sports sedans, that’s because that’s where you’ll find them. You’ll also find those features in the 2012 Jetta GLI, but for an MSRP of just $23,495. In addition to the sporty performance you’d expect with the “GLI” badge, you also get all the basic goodness of the new Jetta including a class-leading 38.1 inches of rear-seat legroom and a 15.5 cubic foot trunk. You’d expect that kind of room in a car that takes up a larger parking space than the new Jetta, but you won’t find it in many.
The Jetta GLI’s combination of 200 hp and 32 mpg (projected) on the highway (with the DSG automatic; 31 with the six-speed manual) means the GLI will put a smile on your face when you’re in the passing lane, and when you’re passing filling stations. The GLI’s 207 lb/ft of torque arrives at a low 1,700 rpm, making the car feel quick and powerful in all kinds of driving, not just when you’re in a hurry.
Here’s a brief word about the DSG transmission: This is a dual-clutch type of automatic transmission, a technology you’ll also find in the world’s best sports cars including certain Porsche and Ferrari models and the BMW M3. The DSG shifts faster than any other kind of automatic and also allows lightning-quick manual shifts with steering wheel paddles. You’ll find paddleshifters on other performance sedans with automatic transmissions, but those transmissions cannot execute shifts as rapidly as the DSG. In addition, driving enthusiasts will delight in how the DSG performs perfect rev-matching downshifts every time.
Leave the transmission in automatic mode, however, and you’ll enjoy the convenience of effortless self-shifts. The DSG really is the best of both worlds.
Volkswagen first offered a GLI version of the Jetta in 1984, so you could say that VW knows the compact sports sedan better than most. Beyond the turbo engine and DSG, the Jetta GLI hardware includes the track-tuned four-wheel independent suspension and the XDS® cross differential system that helps prevent inside wheelspin during cornering.
The Jetta GLI comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, and 18-inch alloys are included with the GLI Autobahn model, which, for its $25,545 MSRP, also adds a power sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated V-Tex leatherette seats and the Fender® Premium Audio System. The Navigation Package is optional with the Autobahn trim level and adds keyless access with pushbutton start.
For the 2012 GLI, VW designers created even more differentiation from the other Jetta models than in previous GLI models. The front fascia, tray-shaped front spoiler, smoked taillights and dual exhaust tips accentuate the finely chiseled lines of the new-generation Jetta. Red-painted calipers for the four-wheel disc brakes are clearly seen behind the alloy wheel spokes, a touch seen on high-end sports sedans.
The sporty theme continues inside with sport bucket seats with red stitching and a flat-bottom steering wheel with red stitching, plus alloy pedals, shifter, dash and door trim. Dual-zone climate control, one-touch up/down power on all four windows and a multi-function display (for vehicle status, trip, radio and navigation information when equipped) add just the right amount of luxury.
Volkswagen knows well how its customers enjoy their music. The standard audio system in the 2012 Jetta GLI features Bluetooth® and iPod connectivity and 6.5-inch touchscreen control. In the Jetta GLI Autobahn model, the Fender Premium Audio System incorporates proprietary Panasonic® speaker technology to provide full soundstage imaging.
If you’ve been waiting for the sportiest Jetta, call to ask us to keep you posted on updates including the arrival date and test-drive availability.