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2019 Jetta GLI First Drive – Jetta, Enhanced

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2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen’s newest iteration of the Jetta is a nicely-rounded commuter car, however a tad boring. VW had a simple repair for that in thoughts – simply implant the guts of the GTI scorching hatch together with some Golf R bits. Growth, immediate sports activities sedan.

There’s been a GLI model of the Jetta since 1984, and each earlier one I’ve pushed has been a enjoyable little hoot to drive; a solution to put a bit spice within the in any other case sorta bland Jetta recipe. This one, although, ups the ante. As an alternative of a pleasant little sprinkle of seasoning, somebody within the kitchen doused it with cayenne pepper.

What you get right here isn’t just a Jetta that’s extra enjoyable to drive, however a correct reasonably priced sport sedan.

(Full disclosure: Volkswagen flew me to Knoxville, Tennessee and fed me meals and booze, whereas additionally placing me up in a pleasant lodge. The corporate additionally turned me unfastened on the famed Tail of the Dragon and close by roads.)

As famous within the disclosure, Volkswagen’s vacation spot of selection for this product launch concerned the famed Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee – all eleven miles and 318 corners of it. And never simply that street, however different close by byways that have been additionally full of difficult corners and enjoyable sweepers. The precise sorts of roads that compact sport sedans are purported to be constructed for.

Positive, a lot of the Tail vacationers I noticed have been operating highly effective Mustangs and Camaros (I noticed a minimum of one ZL1), together with rented V6 variations of similar, however these automobiles appear virtually overpowered for the technical Tail. One thing just like the GLI or Honda Civic Si (noticed a present one on the Tail) can be the sedan of selection. Or a WRX.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Volkswagen drops the GTI’s turbocharged direct-injection engine into the GLI (which, just like the standard Jetta, rides on the MQB platform), and on this software it makes 228 horsepower and 258 pound-ft of torque. That’s a rise of 18 and fifty one, respectively, during the last GLI. A six-velocity stick is standard and (thank the heavens) out there throughout all trims, whereas a 7-velocity DSG automated gearbox is out there.

The additional energy over a standard Jetta is appreciated. Passing punch is plentiful, and you may scoot from nook to nook shortly. Acceleration may be addictive, and this Jetta has a clean but feisty response that’s not seen within the regular car.

Bigger brakes as in comparison with standard Jettas assist include nook entry velocity. These aren’t simply any brakes, both. The entrance brakes, borrowed from the GTI and Golf R, are vented discs measuring thirteen.four inches in diameter. The rear discs measure eleven.eight inches.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

The GLI makes use of the identical electronically managed restricted-slip differential that’s obtainable in different efficiency-oriented VWs, and whereas its mission is to stop understeer by way of particular person brake-drive distribution, it doesn’t absolutely achieve this (though it does appear to get rid of torque steer, which is the opposite essential objective). Understeer does happen when the GLI is pushed onerous. Not shocking for a entrance-drive sedan, and it’s usually controllable. Sure, the car plows a bit once you overcook a nook, nevertheless it’s straightforward to regulate the road. I by no means nervous about capturing off into the timber.

Out there DCC adaptive damping was on board to stamp out physique roll, however just like the digital restricted slip, it solely goes up to now. There’s nonetheless some roll current even in DCC-outfitted automobiles, though it wasn’t a lot worse with out the DCC system. That stated, a lot of the physique roll and understeer I skilled was predictable, in keeping with expectations for a entrance-drive sport sedan, and principally felt when the car was pushed extraordinarily onerous. It gained’t be a problem in regular commuting or mildly spirited driving, and it wasn’t as noticeable on the marginally much less difficult roads close to the Tail.

I spent most of my time with the car in Sport mode, even when driving on gentler byways. The car is just extra responsive on this mode, and the already agency steering feels even a tad bit extra tightly wound. The exhaust will get louder in Sport mode, because of synthetic means. Whereas I initially thought the sound tacky, it grew on me. I used to be fairly reluctant to flip the change again into Regular after arriving again on the town.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

The GLI could be slid round a tiny bit in Sport mode, whereas nonetheless being catchable. It feels vigorous but snug, and there’s not a ton of journey sacrifice. Few street surfaces in Tennessee weren’t clean, however the GLI’s journey, even in Sport mode, was by no means exhausting. The rear multi-hyperlink unbiased suspension is exclusive to the GLI, and GLI fashions are lowered zero.6 inches and boast stiffer springs than the regular Jetta. It must be famous that each one the test automobiles I drove had summer time tires (I drove three thirty fifth Anniversary automobiles and a S.)

Shifting the guide was additionally pleasant, because of a clean clutch and straightforward-to-discover gates. The shift motion could possibly be firmer, however that’s a minor quibble. The DSG is ok so far as automatics go, and the shift paddles are straightforward to make use of to maintain the engine within the best a part of the rev band.

The driving expertise is enjoyable with ease. Not fairly as excessive-strung because the Civic Si, and undoubtedly not as excessive-strung because the WRX, the GLI is clean sufficient that one grows to really feel snug driving it exhausting briefly order. Some automobiles aren’t simply tamed instantly, however the GLI shortly feels comfy even to a driver who simply hopped in. That makes it simpler to tangle with a street just like the Tail of the Dragon.

Not solely that, however as famous above, journey high quality is seemingly not sacrificed. No less than not on principally properly-stored Southern two-lanes.

Efficiency apart, you’re nonetheless driving a Jetta. Meaning you get a big trunk, spacious and ethereal cabin (headroom is up during the last GLI, however legroom shrinks a tad), a middle stack that angles in the direction of the driving force, and a utilitarian interior the place type follows perform. You additionally get a D-formed steering wheel.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Visually, the exterior is about aside from regular Jettas by bumpers which have a extra “aggressive” look, black honeycomb grille, aspect skirts, 18-inch black alloy wheels, rear spoiler, and twin chrome exhaust. This GLI can also be a bit longer and wider than the one it replaces. The wheelbase good points over an inch, the general size is three inches longer, and the car is wider by rather less than an inch.

It’s nonetheless a bit plain-wanting but engaging, identical to the regular Jetta, however the minor variations do spice issues up, seems to be-clever.

Thirty-fifth anniversary fashions stand out with gray wheels that bear a pink stripe on the outer rim and particular interior badging, together with a black roof and black spoiler. All GLIs could be fitted with summer time rubber as an alternative of all-seasons, do you have to favor.

There are three trim ranges obtainable: S, thirty fifth anniversary version, and Autobahn. Obtainable features embrace Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, LED headlights, LED taillights, twin-zone local weather management, heated entrance seats, cooled entrance seats, distant begin, premium audio, second USB port, digital gauges, satellite tv for pc radio, Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers, panoramic sunroof, ahead-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-visitors alert, and submit-collision braking system.

An S will set you again $25,995, whereas the thirty fifth Anniversary car is priced at $26,995 and the Autobahn at $29,195. These costs are with a clutch pedal – add $800 to any trim in the event you don’t like utilizing your left foot. Vacation spot checks in at $895.

That pricing makes the GLI a bit extra pricey than a Civic Si, a minimum of if you need cooled seats, satellite tv for pc radio, and the panoramic sunroof (and DCC, in fact. The Civic has a standard adaptive damper system). None of these issues can be found on the S, and solely DCC is added by the thirty fifth anniversary trim.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Jetta GLI’s 25 mpg metropolis/32 mpg freeway/28 mpg mixed (both transmission) additionally falls a tad in need of the lighter Civic Si.

Nonetheless, the GLI S is near an Si in price, and the Jetta is a extra nicely-rounded car. It has extra energy, the interior supplies are somewhat nicer, it rides a bit higher when in commute mode, and it feels roomier, despite the fact that it solely truly bests the Honda sedan when it comes to headroom.

There’s a little bit of a Goldilocks factor happening right here among the many sedans on this class – the WRX is probably the most brutish (and costly), the Si is the worth mannequin that passes probably the most fuel pumps, and the GLI gives the best stability between sedate driving and yee-haw time whereas additionally being priced between the 2.

If price doesn’t matter, it’s onerous to argue towards the GLI. Penny-pinchers should search for offers, nevertheless, until they will accept the comparatively decontented S. In the meantime, the WRX stays the one providing with all-wheel drive.

Contemplate the GLI the Goldilocks car, then. It’s superb what some cayenne pepper can do.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

– 2019 Jetta GLI First Drive – Jetta, Enhanced –

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