Updated: Apr 1, 2022
For 38 years now, there's been at least one constant:
The Volkswagen GTI is never a bad choice. VW's hot hatch always tips the scales on the fun per dollar equation. But for those of you whose lives are at a stage where a trunk and a slightly different image are required? Well, that's the Jetta GLI.
The Jetta is essentially a four-door Golf. And the GLI is the four-doors-and-a-trunk version of the GTI.
The GLI's engine is the same 228 horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four that powers the GTI. You'll notice the difference, because non-GLI Jettas make 147 horsepower. The Jetta GLI is also one of the few vehicles you can still buy with a six-speed manual transmission and praise Wolfsburg, our tester had it. A standing start to 60 miles per hour takes just 5.8 seconds. And despite that kind of oomph, the EPA fuel economy estimate is 25 miles per gallon city/33 highway.
And not only is it speedy, the GLI handles like a GTI. If you love winding roads as much as I do, the Jetta GLI is your kind of sedan.
The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI comes in two trim levels---S, for $26,345 and Autobahn, which adds VW's Digital Cockpit, leather seating surfaces and DCC adaptive chassis control, for $30,745.
Our tester had the extra-cost optional Black Package (which upgrades the wheels to 18-inch twin five-spoke dark gray alloys, adds black painted side mirror caps and a black rear spoiler) for $595 and that's it. With $995 destination charge, the as-tested price for the 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn is $32,335.
That is a bargain price for this level of speed, handling and overall German solidity. The 2021 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Autobahn is a GTI with a trunk---and that's a very good thing.