2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI review: Hot hatch in sedan clothing

Victoria D. Doty

The GLI is every little thing we adore about the GTI in a Jetta-shaped wrapper.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

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


  • Exceptional handling
  • Impressive turbo motor
  • Handsome style, if a bit dull

Will not Like

  • Numb steering
  • Poor infotainment tech on the foundation trim

The GLI sets alone aside from the common Jetta with larger sized air intakes, a lower entrance spoiler and one of a kind facet skirts. The grille usually takes some styling cues from the GTI with its honeycomb sample and classic red accent stripe. The GLI sits .6 inches lower to the floor than the common Jetta and has a one of a kind rear bumper and diffuser, as effectively as dual chrome exhaust tips. But even with these sporty touches, the GLI nonetheless slides below the radar.

The Jetta GLI is run by a 2.-liter turbocharged I4 motor pushing out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque — the same powertrain you can expect to locate in the GTI. The GLI arrives with entrance-wheel generate, and while you can get a seven-velocity dual-clutch automatic transmission, my tester has the 6-velocity guide. Rating.

My Autobahn trim arrives total with the DCC adaptive damping process, with modes for Standard, Sport and Eco, as effectively as a Custom made setting. DCC will allow me to dial in that Custom made configuration, with particular person options for the damping, steering, drivetrain, motor audio, entrance differential and even climate controls.

However, I do not feel the Custom made setting tends to make a great deal of a variance. Irrespective of seeking out a bunch of diverse setups all through my week with the car, the Standard and Sport modes function just high-quality. Much of my praise for the common Sport setting is many thanks to the limited-slip entrance differential that will work with the GLI’s digital differential lock. Torque goes to the entrance wheel with the most grip, you can find minimal to no understeer and wheelspin is nonexistent.

The 2.-liter motor generates 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

The foundation Jetta will get an previous-school torsion-beam rear suspension, but the GLI updates that hardware to a multilink independent set up. Merged with the GLI’s beefier roll bars and stiffer springs, this sedan is undoubtedly ready to engage in. It swiftly settles after pavement undulations, coming out of an off-camber turn with nary a hair out of location. The steering is swift, direct and weighty, even though it could use a bit a lot more in the way of opinions. The 13.four-inch vented entrance brakes are lifted from the Golf R hatchback, paired with eleven.eight-inch diameter brakes in the rear. These stoppers are solid, while I desire the pedal’s engagement stage was just a tad larger.

The GLI is a blast on backroads, but it truly is high-quality for day-to-day commuting, as well. Typical on the GLI are sophisticated driver’s aids these types of as forward-collision warning, automatic unexpected emergency braking, blind-location checking and rear cross-targeted visitors warn. My major-amount Autobahn trim goes even more with lane-trying to keep guide and adaptive cruise command. Yes, adaptive cruise command will work with a guide transmission, while only at larger speeds. There isn’t any sort of lower-velocity observe and when the GLI thinks it will stall, the process disengages and the driver usually takes more than.

The Jetta GLI’s gas overall economy is respectable, returning an EPA-believed rating of 24 miles for every gallon in the town, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg mixed. Even after a week of decidedly intense driving, I am nonetheless in a position to strike that 28-mpg normal.

The interior is mostly high-quality, but lacks visual flair.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

Within, the GLI’s cabin tech is easy and clear-cut. The common infotainment set up utilizes a little 6.five-inch show, but the Autobahn bumps that up to a nicer eight.-inch screen jogging VW’s most current MIB3 technological innovation. This process can tackle a number of Bluetooth mobile phone pairings at when, and I adore that the screen is angled to the driver so it truly is straightforward to see and reach. MIB3’s menus are laid out thoughtfully so there isn’t a massive finding out curve, possibly. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile are both common, and in addition to a wi-fi charging pad, there are 3 USB-C ports and a 12-volt outlet to hold your devices juiced.

The Autobahn trim has Volkswagen’s Electronic Cockpit, a 10-inch customizable gauge cluster that offers the driver all types of details like automobile information, driver-support element position and audio and mobile phone accessibility. It can also be custom-made with diverse models, like a full-screen navigation perspective. It truly is not very as extravagant-trousers as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, but it truly is essentially the same concept, and just one of my most loved car interior capabilities.

The GLI Autobahn will get an eight-inch touchscreen.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

It truly is a bit of a bummer that the GLI isn’t presented with any quirky interior style touches like the GTI hatchback’s plaid seats. All you can expect to locate in this article is black cloth or optional leather with contrasting red stitching. The Jetta at least has a 10-shade LED ambient lights process that coordinates with your selected driving method: white for Standard, red for Sport and blue for Eco. If that won’t go well with your temper, you can opt for your very own colours, as effectively.

Like the common Jetta, the GLI’s interior supplies are very good but not fantastic. Some of my colleagues lament the much less expensive plastics and as well-soft seats, specially considering the fact that the GTI’s cabin feels a lot more premium by comparison. The sedan’s trunk is rather spacious at 14.1 cubic feet, and my five-foot, 9-inch body suits just high-quality in the rear seat — my knees do not touch the entrance seatbacks and my head won’t brush the roof.

As considerably as rivals go, you can nonetheless snag a Honda Civic Si, or the all-wheel-generate Mazda3 Turbo is a very good solution, even though it truly is a lot more expensive. The new Hyundai Elantra N Line has a minimal significantly less electricity than the GLI, but it truly is also presented with a guide transmission and has some significantly cool style. The Subaru WRX is yet another option, but it truly is obtaining a minimal previous, and the Jetta is a nicer all-all over car.

The GLI absolutely flies below the radar.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

The 2021 Jetta GLI commences at $27,340 like $995 for place. The Autobahn is a $four,000 upcharge, and while I do not feel the customizable DCC chassis tends to make a massive variance, the cabin tech is noticeably superior. All in, an Autobahn with the 6-velocity guide like this exam car fees $32,335.

Of program, the GLI’s largest competitor is the GTI sitting down future to it in the VW showroom, and the Jetta undercuts its Golf equivalent by a few thousand pounds while nonetheless supplying fundamentally the same on-street thrills. The GTI’s hatchback style is a large amount a lot more functional, but the GLI feels like an altogether a lot more developed-up package deal — even though it truly is nonetheless a lot more than willing to get a minimal rowdy.

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