VW Jetta GLI gets features of Golf GTI, R at the Chicago Auto Show


Since last April, when we drove the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta for the first time, we’ve been anticipating the 2019 Jetta GLI. We were told this would be the one with the power, the four-wheel independent suspension, and the manual transmission. It is finally here and, mechanically, at least, it is all that, starting with the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot from the Golf GTI with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That’s 81 hp and 64 lb-ft beyond the standard 2019 Jetta, and 18 horses and 41 lb-ft beyond the previous GLI.

The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, and the options sheet offers a seven-speed dual-clutch that adds start/stop. The ride is transmitted through exclusive 18-inch wheels and should be leagues beyond the standard Jetta, thanks to the multi-link rear suspension. Brakes with red calipers come straight from the Golf R, which means 13.4-inch vented front discs. The sporty sibling also provides the electronically controlled limited slip differential.

The body sits 0.6 inches lower than the sedate , the aggression abetted by a black honeycomb grille with red accents, a redrawn bumper, and standard LED projector headlights. LED taillights are included beneath a rear spoiler, the rear bumper’s got a slightly new line, and the finned rear diffuser houses chrome exhaust tips.

The 2019 GLI will come in two trims that we guess will be SE and Autobahn. There will also be a 35th Anniversary model with a few extra . To the four standard drive modes — Normal, Sport, Eco, and Custom — it adds a fifth, Comfort, thanks to the DCC adaptive damping system also borrowed from the GTI. A black roof, black mirror caps, black spoiler, and unique black wheels with a red strip pair with 35th Anniversary badging inside and out.

Speaking of inside, contrasting red stitching comes with the cloth or leather comfort sport seats, as does 10-color ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, Front Assist (crash potential warning and automatic emergency braking), blind spot monitor, and rear traffic alert. The 2019 Jetta should arrive at dealer this spring.

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