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2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI: First Look

  • Welcome to generation six of the hottest Volkswagen Jetta.
  • Several driver aids are fitted as standard.
  • On sale this spring.

Recently introduced at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is the performance version of this compact sedan. Just like the Golf GTI is the hot variant of the VW Golf hatchback. We’re now into the seventh generation of the broader Jetta range, the regular version also making its debut as a 2019 model. But this is the sixth generation of GLI.

When we say compact sedan, that’s because the Jetta is classified as such by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and it competes in a class that includes the Toyota Corolla, the Honda Civic and the Mazda3. In reality, though, the new Jetta is almost as big as a midsize sedan, with a generous 14.1 cu ft. of trunk space. The 2019 VW Jetta GLI, however, has another set of attractions.

How Much Power Does It Have?

The turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine in the Jetta GLI develops 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. If those numbers look familiar, that’s because it’s the same output as the Golf GTI. This energy goes to the front wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission or an optional 7-speed automatic. Auto versions have an engine stop/start feature to save a little fuel when idling.

What Other Performance Parts Are There?

The regular 2019 Jetta GLI has a sport suspension, although a special 35th anniversary version comes with an adaptive suspension as standard. Drive modes that affect the steering, throttle response and transmission shifts receive an extra Comfort setting in the 35th anniversary model.

Enthusiasts concerned about this much power going only to the front wheels will be pleased to learn that the new GLI has an electronic limited-slip differential to help apply the rubber to the road in the most efficient way possible. And the upgraded brakes are from the even more powerful Golf R.

What Kind of Technology Is Included?

Among the advanced safety features are forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and post-collision braking. Smartphone integration comes in the form of Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link.

There’s also 10-color ambient cabin lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless entry/ignition, rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights and taillights, 18-in alloy wheels and heated front seats. A 400-watt Beats audio system is on the options list, along with a digital driver information display, ventilated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory and a remote start function.

When Is It Available and How Much Will It Cost?

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI goes on sale this spring. There will be two usual trim levels, plus the 35th anniversary version. Volkswagen’s normal warranty applies, which is 6 years or 72,000 miles. Pricing will be announced around the time it hits dealerships. The 2019 Golf GTI starts at around $28,000, so this might be a useful guesstimate for the 2019 Jetta GLI.

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