2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI review: Hot hatch in sedan clothing

Maria J. Danford

The GLI is everything we adore about the GTI in a Jetta-shaped wrapper.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is what happens 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
  • Strong turbo motor
  • Handsome structure, if a bit boring

Never Like

  • Numb steering
  • Negative infotainment tech on the foundation trim

The GLI sets itself apart from the standard Jetta with larger sized air intakes, a small front spoiler and exceptional aspect skirts. The grille usually takes some styling cues from the GTI with its honeycomb pattern and vintage pink accent stripe. The GLI sits .six inches lessen to the floor than the standard Jetta and has a exceptional rear bumper and diffuser, as well as twin chrome exhaust strategies. But even with these sporty touches, the GLI still slides below the radar.

The Jetta GLI is powered by a 2.-liter turbocharged I4 motor pushing out 228 horsepower and 258 pound-ft of torque — the exact powertrain you are going to obtain in the GTI. The GLI will come with front-wheel drive, and whilst you can get a 7-velocity twin-clutch automatic transmission, my tester has the 6-velocity manual. Rating.

My Autobahn trim will come total with the DCC adaptive damping program, with modes for Standard, Activity and Eco, as well as a Tailor made location. DCC permits me to dial in that Tailor made configuration, with specific alternatives for the damping, steering, drivetrain, motor seem, front differential and even weather controls.

Nonetheless, I don’t believe the Tailor made location tends to make significantly of a change. Inspite of attempting out a bunch of distinct setups for the duration of my 7 days with the car, the Standard and Activity modes get the job done just wonderful. Considerably of my praise for the standard Activity location is many thanks to the confined-slip front differential that performs with the GLI’s digital differential lock. Torque goes to the front wheel with the most grip, there’s little to no understeer and wheelspin is nonexistent.

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

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

The foundation Jetta will get an old-faculty torsion-beam rear suspension, but the GLI upgrades that hardware to a multilink impartial setup. Blended with the GLI’s beefier roll bars and stiffer springs, this sedan is undoubtedly prepared to participate in. It swiftly settles just after pavement undulations, coming out of an off-camber turn with nary a hair out of area. The steering is speedy, direct and weighty, nevertheless it could use a bit much more in the way of responses. The thirteen.four-inch vented front brakes are lifted from the Golfing R hatchback, paired with 11.eight-inch diameter brakes in the rear. These stoppers are solid, although I want the pedal’s engagement level was just a tad greater.

The GLI is a blast on backroads, but it is wonderful for day-to-day commuting, too. Standard on the GLI are highly developed driver’s aids these as forward-collision warning, automatic unexpected emergency braking, blind-location monitoring and rear cross-targeted traffic warn. My leading-level Autobahn trim goes further more with lane-keeping help and adaptive cruise management. Indeed, adaptive cruise management performs with a manual transmission, although only at greater speeds. There isn’t really any type of small-velocity follow and after the GLI thinks it will stall, the program disengages and the driver usually takes more than.

The Jetta GLI’s fuel economy is respectable, returning an EPA-believed rating of 24 miles per gallon in the town, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg merged. Even just after a 7 days of decidedly intense driving, I’m still in a position to hit that 28-mpg normal.

The interior is typically wonderful, but lacks visible aptitude.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

Inside, the GLI’s cabin tech is easy and uncomplicated. The standard infotainment setup utilizes a very small six.five-inch screen, but the Autobahn bumps that up to a nicer eight.-inch monitor functioning VW’s most recent MIB3 technology. This program can tackle many Bluetooth telephone pairings at after, and I adore that the monitor is angled towards the driver so it is uncomplicated to see and attain. MIB3’s menus are laid out thoughtfully so there isn’t really a large understanding curve, possibly. Wi-fi Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both of those standard, and in addition to a wi-fi charging pad, there are 3 USB-C ports and a twelve-volt outlet to keep your units juiced.

The Autobahn trim has Volkswagen’s Electronic Cockpit, a 10-inch customizable gauge cluster that presents the driver all kinds of details like automobile facts, driver-support element position and audio and telephone entry. It can also be customized with distinct models, which include a comprehensive-monitor navigation view. It’s not fairly as fancy-pants as Audi’s Digital Cockpit, but it is basically the exact notion, and a single of my most loved car interior options.

The GLI Autobahn will get an eight-inch touchscreen.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

It’s a bit of a bummer that the GLI isn’t really available with any quirky interior structure touches like the GTI hatchback’s plaid seats. All you are going to obtain in this article is black cloth or optional leather with contrasting pink stitching. The Jetta at least has a 10-shade LED ambient lights program that coordinates with your selected driving manner: white for Standard, pink for Activity and blue for Eco. If that doesn’t accommodate your mood, you can decide on your own colors, as well.

Like the standard Jetta, the GLI’s interior components are superior but not good. Some of my colleagues lament the much less expensive plastics and too-delicate seats, particularly considering that the GTI’s cabin feels much more premium by comparison. The sedan’s trunk is rather roomy at fourteen.one cubic ft, and my five-foot, nine-inch frame matches just wonderful in the rear seat — my knees don’t touch the front seatbacks and my head doesn’t brush the roof.

As far as competition go, you can still snag a Honda Civic Si, or the all-wheel-drive Mazda3 Turbo is a superior alternative, nevertheless it is much more expensive. The new Hyundai Elantra N Line has a little a lot less energy than the GLI, but it is also available with a manual transmission and has some very seriously awesome structure. The Subaru WRX is a different alternate, but it is getting a little old, and the Jetta is a nicer all-close to car.

The GLI surely flies below the radar.

Emme Corridor/Roadshow

The 2021 Jetta GLI begins at $27,340 which include $995 for destination. The Autobahn is a $four,000 upcharge, and whilst I don’t believe the customizable DCC chassis tends to make a large change, the cabin tech is substantially better. All in, an Autobahn with the 6-velocity manual like this check car fees $32,335.

Of training course, the GLI’s biggest competitor is the GTI sitting future to it in the VW showroom, and the Jetta undercuts its Golfing equal by a couple of thousand pounds whilst still furnishing in essence the exact on-road thrills. The GTI’s hatchback structure is a great deal much more useful, but the GLI feels like an altogether much more grown-up deal — nevertheless it is still much more than keen to get a little rowdy.

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