First Look: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

By Brandon Turkus

February 09, 2011

Volkswagen has unveiled a more potent version its Jetta sedan. The latest iteration of the GLI badge, which debuted in the US way back in 1984, is powered by Volkswagen’s familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which it borrows from the Golf-based GTI. Power figures remain the same, with 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque sent to the front wheels. Gearbox choices mirror the GTI, with a standard six-speed manual and the optional (and awesome) six-speed DSG.

The Jetta features a fully independent suspension, with the GTI’s XDS cross differential system. This fancy setup keeps the inside wheels from spinning haplessly during hard cornering. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, while eighteens are optional. Besides the standard wheels, there should also be a healthy variety of VW accessory wheels, for a bit of added personalization.
 
Besides the bigger wheels, the Jetta’s exterior gets a slightly more aggressive look. New front and rear fascias work with the sharper side skirts and reworked wheel arches to give the GLI a muscular, sculpted look. The interior sees a similar treatment, with a thick, flat-bottomed steering wheel and seats that are more heavily bolstered. Overall, the aesthetic enhancements go a long way towards distinguishing the GLI from the crowd.
 
Prices for the base GLI start at $23,495, while Autobahn models will fetch $25,545. Navigationally challenged buyers can pick up an Autobahn with Navigation for $26,445. Buyers of the Autobahn package will also see the cloth seats (no word on if they are plaid) replaced with heated leatherette units, while the standard stereo gets a hi-po Fender sound system. As of right now, Volkswagen has not announced when the GLI will hit dealer showrooms.
 
Please scroll down for the official press release from Volkswagen.
 
Volkswagen Unveils the New 2012 Jetta GLI, A German Performance Sedan at an Accessible Price
 
Jetta GLI is the complete Volkswagen package: A well-balanced, fun-to-drive, German-engineered performance vehicle – at an accessible price
 
HERNDON, Va., February 8, 2010 — Volkswagen of America, Inc. today announced the debut of the new 2012 Jetta GLI, which combines the comfort and sophistication of a Jetta with aggressive performance and handling in a sporty yet sleek package. The all-new Jetta GLI is the most differentiated Jetta GLI model ever made by Volkswagen. With a rich heritage that dates back to 1984, the new Jetta GLI is sure to appeal to both automotive enthusiasts and everyday drivers alike.
 
The Jetta GLI offers exceptional features and options, for equally impressive pricing. Available in three trim levels, the Jetta GLI has a starting MSRP of $23,495. The GLI Autobahn, with an MSRP of $25,545, adds 18” alloy wheels, sunroof, dual zone climate control, heated V-Tex Leatherette seats and the Fender® Premium Audio System. The top of the line Jetta GLI Autobahn with Navigation adds the RNS-315 navigation system and keyless access with push-button start technology for an MSRP of $26,445.
 
Engine and Transmission
 
The sporty Jetta GLI boasts the award winning 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, generating 200 horsepower and a full 207 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,700 rpm, contributing to drivability and response of the vehicle in both everyday and performance situations. The Jetta GLI is offered with a six speed manual transmission as standard equipment. This new model is significantly lighter than the previous Jetta GLI and it offers power and performance coupled with German sensibilities. While EPA figures are not yet available, the Jetta GLI is expected to deliver 31 mpg highway with the manual and 32 mpg highway with the DSG® automatic.
 
Additional performance features for the Jetta GLI include:
 
Track tuned four-way Independent Performance Suspension for superb handling
 
DSG® automatic gearbox that offers steering wheel mounted paddles shifters, super quick shift times and rev-matched downshifts
 
XDS® cross differential system that debuted on the Volkswagen GTI, that helps prevent inside wheel spin during cornering
 
Four wheel disc brakes with floating red calipers
 
Premium Features
 
To make life on the road a little easier, the Jetta GLI offers sophisticated, German engineered premium appointments. Features include standard 6.5” touch screen premium VIII radio with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, standard one-touch up/down power on all four windows, standard multifunction display (for vehicle status, trip, radio and navigation information when equipped), available dual zone climate control, available RNS-315 navigation system and available keyless entry with pushbutton start.
 
The 2012 Jetta GLI Autobahn and Autobahn with navigation models come standard with a Fender® Premium Audio System, bringing the concert stage to the vehicle for the ultimate music experience. Designed exclusively for Volkswagen, the Fender® Premium Audio System is embedded in the vehicle design and features proprietary Panasonic® speaker technology. The system covers the cabin with directional sound from front door speakers that generate imaging beyond the capabilities of traditional speaker designs. It cuts through the noise and other distractions with front dual voice coil speakers, with extended range for all musical genres.
 
The sound system features lower inter-modulation distortion and smooth mid-range response to eliminate harshness. It is harmonically complex, with extended range tweeters and properly voiced 16cm speakers revealing original instrumentation timbre and harmonic richness, bringing the raw emotion of live music to the driving experience.
 
Exterior
 
The Jetta GLI combines performance, space and comfort in one sleek package. At 182.2 inches long, 57.2 inches tall and 70 inches wide, it is more than 2.9 inches longer than previous Jetta models.
 
The front end of the car is defined by prominent horizontal lines. The Jetta GLI grille and the car’s trapezoidal headlights help create a distinct look. Below the bumper is a cooling air intake and tray-shaped front spoiler that completes the masculine look of the car. The upper front end section shows a powerful transition from the v-shaped engine hood to the fenders on the sides while the shoulder section provides dynamic and muscular styling.
 
The aggressive styling of the Jetta GLI is powerfully emphasized by the arches of the wheel wells available with 17” or 18” alloys. Sleek lines and sporty shoulders dominate the rear section. The smoked taillights stand out with two distinct sections extending on either side from the fender into the tailgate above the dual exhaust tips.
 
Interior
 
Like the exterior, the interior of the Jetta GLI stays true to its sport and performance roots. Featuring sport bucket seats with red stitching and a sport flat-bottom steering wheel with red stitching, the GLI logo and aluminum accents, the interior styling consistently follows the clean, sporty lines of the car. The Jetta GLI is available in cloth or V-Tex Leatherette and also features sleek alloy pedals, shifter, dash and door trim.
 
Intuitive controls and well-arranged instruments allow drivers to enjoy a comfortable and ergonomically designed gear shift grip. Further up on the center console are the newly designed and intuitive controls for climate and radio. The console is also slightly inclined toward the driver to heighten comfort behind the wheel.
 
To increase versatility, the rear bench seatback is split 60/40 and folds. The trunk can also be opened from inside the car by a remote unlock switch.
 
Safety
 
The Jetta GLI includes several features designed to enhance driver and passenger safety including electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring and Volkswagen’s advanced Intelligent Crash Response System, which initiates automatic safety protection in some types of collisions — the electrical supply to the fuel pump is shut off, the doors unlock and the hazard lights switch on.
 
As part of the equipment package, the Jetta GLI also features driver and front passenger airbags, side airbags in front and Side Curtain Protection® airbags in front and rear.
 
Volkswagen of America, Inc.
 
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and Europe’s largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Eos, Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, CC, Tiguan, Touareg and Routan through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers. All 2011 Volkswagen vehicles come standard- equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This is important because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called ESC the most effective new vehicle safety technology since the safety belt. Visit Volkswagen of America online at www.vw.com or www.media.vw.com to learn more.