As handsome as the Volkswagen Jetta has always been, it was never going to light anyone’s hair on fire. The mid-sized sedan’s design certainly matured going into the current generation as it took on more DNA from Audi than they’d like to admit, but it generally lacks in the performance department. The 2019 Jetta GLI, just unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show, is here to counter that issue.
The GLI is targeted directly at those who adore the Golf GTI for its performance but lament the idea of a hatchback for one reason or another. With the Jetta GLI you get all the space that comes with the standard sedan, plus the GTI’s engine, brakes and suspension.
Volkswagen’s newest sleeper sedan gets the 2.0-liter inline-four with 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque on tap, an 18 hp and 41 lb-ft increase over the standard Jetta. To help put that power to the road and rein it in, the GLI gets a multi-link independent rear suspension, an electronically limited slip differential and adaptive dampers. You’ll also get brakes from the Golf R, tucker inside 18-inch wheels with a design unique to the GLI. It’s like a “best of” compilation from the Golf line, but with more trunk space.
Given how fun the Golf GTI is and how practical the standard Jetta is for everyday driving, the GLI should be the sedan of choice in VW’s lineup. There’s no word on pricing, but expect the Jetta GLI’s price tag to hang around the $30,000 mark. If you’re eye-balling the Golf GTI but want something a little more grown up and subtle, hold out for the springtime when this new sleeper sedan hits dealership floors.