Monday, May 16, 2022

2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI overview: Hot hatch in sedan clothing

The GLI is all the pieces we love in regards to the GTI in a Jetta-shaped wrapper.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is what occurs when a scorching hatch grows up. This sporty sedan has all the trimmings of its rowdy GTI sibling, packaged in a good-looking, mature wrapper.


  • Excellent dealing with
  • Powerful turbo engine
  • Handsome design, if a bit uninteresting

Don’t Like

  • Numb steering
  • Bad infotainment tech on the bottom trim

The GLI units itself aside from the usual Jetta with bigger air intakes, a low entrance spoiler and distinctive aspect skirts. The grille takes some styling cues from the GTI with its honeycomb sample and traditional pink accent stripe. The GLI sits 0.6 inches decrease to the bottom than the usual Jetta and has a novel rear bumper and diffuser, in addition to twin chrome exhaust ideas. But even with these sporty touches, the GLI nonetheless slides beneath the radar.

The Jetta GLI is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine pushing out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque — the identical powertrain you may discover in the GTI. The GLI comes with front-wheel drive, and whereas you may get a seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission, my tester has the six-speed handbook. Score.

My Autobahn trim comes full with the DCC adaptive damping system, with modes for Normal, Sport and Eco, in addition to a Custom setting. DCC permits me to dial in that Custom configuration, with particular person choices for the damping, steering, drivetrain, engine sound, entrance differential and even local weather controls.

However, I do not assume the Custom setting makes a lot of a distinction. Despite making an attempt out a bunch of various setups throughout my week with the automobile, the Normal and Sport modes work simply advantageous. Much of my reward for the usual Sport setting is due to the limited-slip entrance differential that works with the GLI’s digital differential lock. Torque goes to the entrance wheel with essentially the most grip, there’s little to no understeer and wheelspin is nonexistent.

The 2.0-liter engine produces 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The base Jetta will get an old-school torsion-beam rear suspension, however the GLI upgrades that {hardware} to a multilink unbiased setup. Combined with the GLI’s beefier roll bars and stiffer springs, this sedan is unquestionably able to play. It swiftly settles after pavement undulations, popping out of an off-camber flip with nary a hair misplaced. The steering is fast, direct and weighty, although it may use a bit extra in the best way of suggestions. The 13.4-inch vented entrance brakes are lifted from the Golf R hatchback, paired with 11.8-inch diameter brakes in the rear. These stoppers are strong, though I want the pedal’s engagement level was only a tad larger.

The GLI is a blast on backroads, nevertheless it’s advantageous for every day commuting, too. Standard on the GLI are superior driver’s aids resembling forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. My top-level Autobahn trim goes additional with lane-keeping help and adaptive cruise management. Yes, adaptive cruise management works with a handbook transmission, though solely at larger speeds. There is not any form of low-speed observe and as soon as the GLI thinks it should stall, the system disengages and the driving force takes over.

The Jetta GLI’s gasoline economic system is respectable, returning an EPA-estimated ranking of 24 miles per gallon in town, 33 mpg freeway and 28 mpg mixed. Even after per week of decidedly aggressive driving, I’m nonetheless capable of hit that 28-mpg common.

The inside is usually advantageous, however lacks visible aptitude.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Inside, the GLI’s cabin tech is straightforward and easy. The customary infotainment setup makes use of a tiny 6.5-inch show, however the Autobahn bumps that as much as a nicer 8.0-inch display screen operating VW’s newest MIB3 know-how. This system can deal with a number of Bluetooth telephone pairings directly, and I like that the display screen is angled in the direction of the driving force so it is simple to see and attain. MIB3’s menus are laid out thoughtfully so there is not a giant studying curve, both. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are each customary, and in addition to a wi-fi charging pad, there are three USB-C ports and a 12-volt outlet to maintain your units juiced.

The Autobahn trim has Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit, a 10-inch customizable gauge cluster that provides the driving force every kind of data like car information, driver-assistance function standing and audio and telephone entry. It may also be custom-made with completely different designs, together with a full-screen navigation view. It’s not fairly as fancy-pants as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, nevertheless it’s basically the identical concept, and one among my favourite automobile inside options.

The GLI Autobahn will get an 8-inch touchscreen.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

It’s a little bit of a bummer that the GLI is not provided with any quirky inside design touches just like the GTI hatchback’s plaid seats. All you may discover right here is black material or non-obligatory leather-based with contrasting pink stitching. The Jetta not less than has a 10-color LED ambient lighting system that coordinates together with your chosen driving mode: white for Normal, pink for Sport and blue for Eco. If that does not fit your temper, you’ll be able to select your personal colours, as nicely.

Like the usual Jetta, the GLI’s inside supplies are good however not nice. Some of my colleagues lament the cheaper plastics and too-soft seats, particularly because the GTI’s cabin feels extra premium by comparability. The sedan’s trunk is pretty spacious at 14.1 cubic toes, and my 5-foot, 9-inch body suits simply advantageous in the rear seat — my knees do not contact the entrance seatbacks and my head would not brush the roof.

As far as rivals go, you’ll be able to nonetheless snag a Honda Civic Si, or the all-wheel-drive Mazda3 Turbo is an effective choice, although it is costlier. The new Hyundai Elantra N Line has rather less energy than the GLI, nevertheless it’s additionally provided with a handbook transmission and has some severely cool design. The Subaru WRX is one other various, nevertheless it’s getting slightly outdated, and the Jetta is a nicer all-around automobile.

The GLI definitely flies beneath the radar.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The 2021 Jetta GLI begins at $27,340 together with $995 for vacation spot. The Autobahn is a $4,000 upcharge, and whereas I do not assume the customizable DCC chassis makes a giant distinction, the cabin tech is considerably higher. All in, an Autobahn with the six-speed handbook like this take a look at automobile prices $32,335.

Of course, the GLI’s greatest competitor is the GTI sitting subsequent to it in the VW showroom, and the Jetta undercuts its Golf equal by just a few thousand {dollars} whereas nonetheless offering principally the identical on-road thrills. The GTI’s hatchback design is much more sensible, however the GLI looks like an altogether extra grown-up package deal — although it is nonetheless greater than keen to get slightly rowdy.

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