2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI review: Hot hatch in sedan clothing

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The GLI is anything we really like about the GTI in a Jetta-shaped wrapper.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is what transpires when a warm hatch grows up. This sporty sedan has all the trappings of its rowdy GTI sibling, packaged in a handsome, mature wrapper.


  • Fantastic handling
  • Potent turbo engine
  • Handsome design and style, if a little bit uninteresting

Will not Like

  • Numb steering
  • Lousy infotainment tech on the base trim

The GLI sets by itself apart from the common Jetta with much larger air intakes, a minimal entrance spoiler and special facet skirts. The grille usually takes some styling cues from the GTI with its honeycomb pattern and traditional purple accent stripe. The GLI sits .six inches reduce to the ground than the common Jetta and has a special rear bumper and diffuser, as perfectly as twin chrome exhaust strategies. But even with these sporty touches, the GLI continue to slides below the radar.

The Jetta GLI is driven by a 2.-liter turbocharged I4 engine pushing out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-toes of torque — the identical powertrain you can uncover in the GTI. The GLI comes with entrance-wheel drive, and while you can get a 7-pace twin-clutch automated transmission, my tester has the 6-pace guide. Rating.

My Autobahn trim comes total with the DCC adaptive damping procedure, with modes for Regular, Sport and Eco, as perfectly as a Custom made environment. DCC allows me to dial in that Custom made configuration, with specific choices for the damping, steering, drivetrain, engine sound, entrance differential and even local climate controls.

However, I you should not imagine the Custom made environment makes considerably of a change. Regardless of making an attempt out a bunch of unique setups for the duration of my 7 days with the motor vehicle, the Regular and Sport modes function just wonderful. A great deal of my praise for the common Sport environment is many thanks to the confined-slip entrance differential that works with the GLI’s digital differential lock. Torque goes to the entrance wheel with the most grip, you can find tiny to no understeer and wheelspin is nonexistent.

The 2.-liter engine produces 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The base Jetta receives an aged-school torsion-beam rear suspension, but the GLI upgrades that components to a multilink impartial set up. Mixed with the GLI’s beefier roll bars and stiffer springs, this sedan is undoubtedly prepared to enjoy. It swiftly settles after pavement undulations, coming out of an off-camber convert with nary a hair out of location. The steering is rapid, direct and weighty, though it could use a little bit far more in the way of comments. The 13.4-inch vented entrance brakes are lifted from the Golfing R hatchback, paired with eleven.eight-inch diameter brakes in the rear. These stoppers are stable, though I would like the pedal’s engagement point was just a tad greater.

The GLI is a blast on backroads, but it is wonderful for every day commuting, also. Typical on the GLI are superior driver’s aids such as ahead-collision warning, automated unexpected emergency braking, blind-place checking and rear cross-traffic notify. My top rated-degree Autobahn trim goes even more with lane-retaining assist and adaptive cruise management. Certainly, adaptive cruise management works with a guide transmission, though only at greater speeds. There is not any variety of minimal-pace comply with and as soon as the GLI thinks it will stall, the procedure disengages and the driver usually takes about.

The Jetta GLI’s fuel financial system is respectable, returning an EPA-approximated rating of 24 miles for each gallon in the town, 33 mpg freeway and 28 mpg combined. Even after a 7 days of decidedly aggressive driving, I’m continue to equipped to hit that 28-mpg average.

The inside is generally wonderful, but lacks visible flair.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

Inside of, the GLI’s cabin tech is very simple and straightforward. The common infotainment set up employs a small six.5-inch display screen, but the Autobahn bumps that up to a nicer eight.-inch display managing VW’s most up-to-date MIB3 technological know-how. This procedure can tackle many Bluetooth cell phone pairings at as soon as, and I really like that the display is angled to the driver so it is effortless to see and access. MIB3’s menus are laid out thoughtfully so there is not a major studying curve, either. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Vehicle are the two common, and in addition to a wi-fi charging pad, there are 3 USB-C ports and a twelve-volt outlet to preserve your equipment juiced.

The Autobahn trim has Volkswagen’s Electronic Cockpit, a 10-inch customizable gauge cluster that provides the driver all types of info like vehicle facts, driver-support characteristic standing and audio and cell phone access. It can also be custom-made with unique types, which includes a entire-display navigation look at. It is really not fairly as extravagant-trousers as Audi’s Digital Cockpit, but it is in essence the identical idea, and one of my preferred motor vehicle inside features.

The GLI Autobahn receives an eight-inch touchscreen.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

It is really a little bit of a bummer that the GLI is not supplied with any quirky inside design and style touches like the GTI hatchback’s plaid seats. All you can uncover right here is black cloth or optional leather with contrasting purple stitching. The Jetta at minimum has a 10-color LED ambient lighting procedure that coordinates with your selected driving method: white for Regular, purple for Sport and blue for Eco. If that will not go well with your temper, you can pick your very own colors, as perfectly.

Like the common Jetta, the GLI’s inside elements are great but not wonderful. Some of my colleagues lament the cheaper plastics and also-smooth seats, especially given that the GTI’s cabin feels far more premium by comparison. The sedan’s trunk is pretty spacious at fourteen.one cubic toes, and my 5-foot, 9-inch frame fits just wonderful in the rear seat — my knees you should not contact the entrance seatbacks and my head will not brush the roof.

As considerably as competition go, you can continue to snag a Honda Civic Si, or the all-wheel-drive Mazda3 Turbo is a great alternative, though it is far more costly. The new Hyundai Elantra N Line has a tiny fewer electric power than the GLI, but it is also supplied with a guide transmission and has some seriously great design and style. The Subaru WRX is another alternative, but it is obtaining a tiny aged, and the Jetta is a nicer all-around motor vehicle.

The GLI undoubtedly flies below the radar.

Emme Hall/Roadshow

The 2021 Jetta GLI commences at $27,340 which includes $995 for location. The Autobahn is a $4,000 upcharge, and while I you should not imagine the customizable DCC chassis makes a major change, the cabin tech is considerably much better. All in, an Autobahn with the 6-pace guide like this exam motor vehicle charges $32,335.

Of training course, the GLI’s biggest competitor is the GTI sitting up coming to it in the VW showroom, and the Jetta undercuts its Golfing equivalent by a number of thousand pounds while continue to furnishing basically the identical on-street thrills. The GTI’s hatchback design and style is a ton far more functional, but the GLI feels like an altogether far more grown-up deal — though it is continue to far more than willing to get a tiny rowdy.