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2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI - Chicago Auto Show

February 2011 author photo


February 10, 2011

Volkswagen blew into the Windy City and used the 2011 Chicago Auto Show to unveil its newest car, the 2012 VW Jetta GLI. Those last three letters mean a lot to Vee-Dub lovers, they signify the hottest version of this compact sedan.

The current generation of Jetta debuted in 2010, so the GLI version is like the cherry on the cake, with a tempting 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque from VW’s award-winning two-liter four-cylinder. This is made all the more palatable by achieving what the company expects to be 31 mpg on the highway (there are no official gas mileage figures yet).

Following a similar formula as the rest of the new Jetta range, the GLI is priced lower than the previous generation. It starts at $23,495 with a six-speed manual transmission (its predecessor was over $24,000). The next trim level is the Autobahn, from $25,545. This includes 18-inch alloy wheels sunroof, dual-zone climate control and a Fender-branded upscale audio system. Spending $26,445 gets the Autobahn with Navigation version, which – apart from the obvious – brings keyless entry and a push-button start to the recipe.

Anyone wishing to take the car to another level can opt for a sport-tuned suspension and VW’s excellent DSG transmission. This represents the best of both auto and manual systems. There’s no clutch pedal and the gearbox performs lightning-fast changes when left to its own devices, but the driver can get more involved by selecting gears with steering wheel-mounted paddles.

Just like the 2012 VW Passat, this car also has Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System (ICRS) to complement its standard-issue electronic stability control. In the event of a crash, the fuel supply is shut down, hazard lights are activated and the doors are unlocked if an airbag goes off.

The 2012 VW Jetta GLI goes on sale in May, 2011.

author photoCOLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI - Chicago Auto Show - Autotrader