When it first debuted in 1984, the Volkswagen GLI was dubbed a “GTI with a trunk” and its mission was simple: to deliver an accessible German performance sedan. The car had to be undeniably fun to drive without sacrificing any of the usability and efficiency that drivers expected from the brand. While technology, efficiency, safety, and—of course—performance have come leaps and bounds in 35 years, the mission of the Volkswagen sixth-generation hot sedan remains exactly the same.
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is available in the U.S. market in two regular trim levels—S and Autobahn—and a 35th Anniversary Edition. It is arriving at U.S. Volkswagen dealers now. Pricing for the Jetta GLI starts at $25,995 for the GLI S with 6-speed manual transmission. The 7-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission GLI S starts at $26,795. Destination charges for all Jetta GLI models is $895.
While the 2019 GLI features the MQB architecture, coupe-like profile of the redesigned Jetta, it adds sporty styling cues that hint at its beefed-up powertrain. Featuring a sport suspension, the GLI sits 0.6 inches lower than a regular Jetta, giving it a more planted look. The front bumper features a lower front spoiler and larger air intake than the regular Jetta. A standard compliment of full-LED lighting, including front LED projector headlights, LED DRLs and side mirror-mounted turn signals, as well as LED taillights, sets the GLI apart from its competition. Featuring a red accent stripe, the wide grille on the Jetta GLI is filled with a honeycomb pattern that gives a subtle nod to previous GLI variants as well as its spiritual sibling, the Golf GTI. Unique lower side skirts carry the line to a more aggressive rear bumper, which features LED taillights, a finned diffusor and dual chrome exhaust tips.
Above the beltline, the GLI receives black window trim (rather than chrome), a spoiler, and “GLI” flitzer and rear badging. The 35th Anniversary Edition receives “GLI 35” badging, and takes the sporting character further still, with a black roof, black mirror caps, and a black tail spoiler. A panoramic power-tilt-and-slide sunroof is standard equipment on Jetta GLI Autobahn.
Befitting the aggressive appeal of the Jetta GLI, wide 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with a diamond-turned surface are mated to low-profile 225/45 R18 all-season tires. The 35th Anniversary Edition GLI features unique dark grey 18-inch wheels featuring a red stripe around the outer rim. Any GLI can be optioned with 225/45 R18 summer tires in lieu of the standard all-season fitment. Golf R front brakes, with red-painted calipers, are standard equipment on every GLI.
The driver-focused cockpit of the all-new 2019 Jetta is an ideal jumping off point for the sporty GLI variant. The instruments and infotainment system are arranged in an easy-to-read horizontal orientation, and the center console is angled toward the driver. Meanwhile, trapezoidal design elements from the exterior are repeated in the cabin for a touch of sportiness, and premium soft-touch materials are used throughout.
A black interior sets the stage for sporty details to pop throughout. Red stitching is used on the steering wheel, shifter, armrest and floormats. Comfort sport seats feature red stitching no matter the material; cloth seats on the S and 35th Anniversary Edition and leather seating surfaces on Autobahn models. Diamond flag décor trim, black headliner, stainless steel pedal caps and a leather-wrapped sport multifunction steering wheel are standard on every model. DSG-equipped cars gain paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel. The 35th Anniversary Edition model has unique “GLI 35” interior décor, seat tags, floormats, and sill kickplates.
Jetta GLI offers a number of premium features as standard equipment. KESSY® keyless entry and push-button start, automatic on/off headlights, rain sensing wipers, an automatically dimming rearview mirror and dual-zone Climatronic® automatic climate control are standard. Heated front seats are also standard and Autobahn models offer standard ventilation on front seats as well. GLI S and 35th Anniversary Edition feature 6-way adjustable drivers’ seats, while Autobahn models add adjustable lumbar and a power driver’s seat with memory function. Autobahn models also features standard remote start and a vehicle alarm.
Every GLI features a 10-color LED ambient lighting system. Coordinated with the Jetta Driving Mode Selection feature, the system provides white light in the Normal profile, red light in the Sport profile and blue light in the Eco profile. The driver can set any of the 10 colors using Manual or Custom mode. In addition, the doorsills feature backlit red “GLI” inserts (“GLI 35” on that version).
Every Jetta model offers standard Driver Personalization with up to four driver settings. Dependent on trim, customizable features include: driver seat memory, drive mode selection, driver assistance system preferences, climate control, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit arrangement, ambient lighting color, radio presets, and more.
BeatsAudio®. To appeal to music lovers, the GLI Autobahn features the BeatsAudio system. This setup showcases a 12-channel, 400-watt amplifier, digital signal processing and eight speakers and a subwoofer.
MIB II Infotainment. All 2019 Jetta GLI models feature the innovative Volkswagen MIB II touchscreen infotainment system. The display utilizes a capacitive-touch sensor (as in smartphone and tablet technology) rather than the more common resistive touchscreens that require pressure, enabling gesture controls like swiping and even pinch-zooming.
The GLI S and 35th Anniversary Edition models are equipped with the Composition Color unit, which features a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display and six speakers. The infotainment system also offers SD card and USB (one port) multimedia interfaces, as well as standard Bluetooth® technology for compatible devices.
The GLI Autobahn model is equipped with a glass-covered 8.0-inch capacitive touchscreen display with the Composition Media unit, which offers two USB ports (second is charge only), Voice Control, SiriusXM® radio for a three month trial period, HD Radio, and a CD player. The Composition Media unit can also pair two phones simultaneously.
Volkswagen Car-Net®. Volkswagen is committed to driving the development of connected and intelligent vehicles, and the Car-Net connectivity system is a major element in achieving that goal. Features available through Car-Net are divided into three key areas: “App-Connect,” “Security & Service,” and “Guide & Inform.”
Car-Net App-Connect smartphone integration for compatible devices is standard on all Jetta GLI models. App-Connect offers users the ability to run select smartphone apps directly on the vehicle’s display through services such as Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®.
Equipped on GLI Autobahn models, Car-Net Security & Service offers a suite of elements that provides service features and also allows owners to access their VW remotely through vw.com/carnet as well as a smartphone app.
Customers purchasing new Volkswagen models equipped with VW Car-Net Security & Service will receive a six-month trial subscription from Verizon Telematics that starts on the date of your Volkswagen purchase for no additional charge. To extend the benefits of this system after the trial, customers can choose from a number of payment options: One year for $199 and two years for $378, or month-to-month for $17.99, plus applicable taxes and fees. App-Connect can be used at no additional charge and is not included as part of the subscription-based services.
Available Car-Net Security & Service features include Automatic Crash Notification, which can help automatically notify an operator who can quickly contact first responders in the event of a collision; Manual Emergency Call, a feature that allows for quick access to customer specialists at the touch of a button; Roadside Assistance, for added peace-of-mind in the event of trouble on the road; and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance, which uses Car-Net Security & Service to assist law enforcement with locating your vehicle in the event that it is stolen.
In addition, Car-Net Security & Service offers remote vehicle access, remote door lock and unlock, remote honk and flash of lights, last parked location information, and remote status check (doors and windows). Consumers will also be able to send a location from their connected smart device to the factory-installed compatible navigation system on select models. For consumers who prefer a more personal touch, Information Assistance by pressing the i-Button in the vehicle overhead console is also available.
Car-Net Security & Service also includes Family Guardian, which offers features such as: speed alert, which notifies you when the pre-determined maximum speed limit is exceeded; boundary alert, which lets you know when the vehicle has traveled outside of a pre-set virtual boundary; curfew alert, which notifies you if your vehicle is driven while curfew alert is on; and valet alert, which lets you know if your vehicle is driven more than 0.2 miles from the valet drop-off location.
Diagnostics and maintenance information is also available through Car-Net Security & Service. In addition to the vehicle’s warning and indicator lights, a Vehicle Health Report provides customers easy access to diagnostic information. When it’s time for scheduled service, Car-Net Security & Service not only notifies the customer, but provides a simple way to schedule a dealer visit.
The available VW Car-Net app for smartwatch (supports select Apple Watch® and AndroidTM Wear operating systems) allows VW customers to control a host of Security & Service features and functions available through the iPhone® and Android® apps and Customer Web Portal, directly from their wrist. Smartwatch wearers can keep tabs on their vehicle from afar, remotely locking and unlocking doors and viewing the status of doors, windows and sunroof (open or closed). These consumers can also find a parked vehicle more quickly, with a map of the current vehicle location, and get walking or driving directions to the vehicle. Drivers can check their estimated fuel level and receive alerts with a compatible smartwatch.
The Jetta GLI is powered by a Volkswagen 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® 4-cylinder engine, making 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, 18 more horsepower and 51 lb-ft more than the previous GLI model. This engine, shared with the Golf GTI, features variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust sides, as well as variable exhaust valve lift.
The power is taken to the front wheels via a standard 6-speed manual transmission, with an available 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Automatic transmission models come standard with a Start/Stop system designed to help improve fuel efficiency. This technology stops the engine during idle when the brake pedal is held (such as when waiting at a stop light). When the brake pedal is released, the engine restarts. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the GLI is 25/32/28 mpg (city/highway/combined) regardless of transmission choice.
The TSI engine features innovative solutions such as water-cooled exhaust gas routing through the cylinder head to the turbocharger (to efficiently reduce full-load fuel consumption) and a dual injection system with direct and multi-port injection. Thanks to its fully electronic coolant control system, the engine also offers highly efficient thermal management with a short warm-up phase; this reduces friction and decreases fuel consumption.
Built on the award-winning MQB chassis, the Jetta GLI features a MacPherson strut suspension mated with a multi-link independent rear suspension, the latter of which is unique to GLI variants. Featuring dual anti-roll bars, sport-tuned gas-filled shock absorbers, along with stiffer springs and a 0.6-inch lower stance than regular Jetta models, the sport suspension delivers a performance-focused ride without sacrificing comfort.
Further underlining the high-performance capabilities of the Jetta GLI are larger brakes and the sophisticated VAQ electronically-controlled front limited-slip differential, both shared with other Volkswagen performance models. The front brakes are shared with the Golf GTI and Golf R, using 13.4-inch diameter vented discs. The rear brakes, using 11.8-inch diameter discs, are also larger than on standard Jetta models. While larger brakes can provide more stopping power, the VAQ differential hydraulically varies torque to each front wheel, working in tandem with the XDS® electronic differential lock (which uses individual brake-force distribution to help prevent understeer) to help create neutral handling and limit wheelspin.
From a structural standpoint, the MQB platform provides extremely high body rigidity, resulting from a combination of ultra-high-strength and hot-stamped steels. This allows for very precise steering, high vehicle responsiveness and optimal ride comfort. Ultra-high-strength steel is used in areas of the vehicle such as the side sills, as well as the side members and cross members of the body. Hot-formed steel is used for the B-pillars, center tunnel, bulkhead, rear side members, and roof side members. This results in an extremely comfortable and agile car.
Driving Mode Selection. As on GTI and Golf R models, the Driving Mode Selection feature is standard equipment. This system has four modes in non-DCC® vehicles: “Normal,” “Sport,” “Eco,” and “Custom.” Normal mode gives a balanced drive experience, while Sport is tuned for a more dynamic throttle and shift response, tighter steering, and a more spirited exhaust note. Eco mode optimizes shift points, throttle response and climate control settings to help fuel economy. Custom allows a driver to tailor the steering, throttle, differential, engine note, and climate control settings. The 35th Anniversary Edition model with DCC allows the driver to adjust damping settings and also adds a fifth “Comfort” mode.
DCC. The Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition features standard DCC adaptive damping system that gives the sport sedan the optimal balance between excellent handling and superior ride comfort. DCC achieves this by managing the suspension’s rebound and compression rates individually, helping to improve vehicle dynamics. In addition to the driving mode selections above, 3th Anniversary Edition models add a fifth “Comfort” mode.
Progressive variable-ratio steering. Unique to the Jetta lineup, variable-ratio electromechanical power steering is standard on GLI, and helps contribute to its agile nature. Requiring only 2.1 turns from lock to lock, the steering noticeably reduces effort when maneuvering and parking, while remaining direct and responsive in the center position when traveling at highway speeds.
To help protect occupants, the 2019 Jetta GLI provides a combination of both passive and active safety systems. It features six airbags as standard (front and side airbags for front passengers and side curtain airbags for outboard seating positions), along with a number of electronic safety systems, such as an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
A further benefit of the Jetta using the MQB chassis is a much more rigid structure than the previous car, which pays dividends in safety for passengers. Highlights include a rigid laser-seam-welded bodyshell, crash-optimized, energy-absorbing front end, and heat- formed steel center B-pillars.
A standard feature on the GLI is the Volkswagen Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. This builds on the premise that a collision is rarely a single, instantaneous action, but rather a series of events that follow the initial impact—the most significant of which can cause additional collisions. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System helps address this, in certain crash scenarios, by applying the brakes when a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors, thus potentially reducing residual kinetic energy and, in turn, the chance of additional damage.
The GLI also features a standard rearview camera, and includes the Volkswagen Intelligent Crash Response System that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard lights if the car is involved in certain types of collisions.
To meet the demands of American drivers, the 2019 Jetta GLI offers a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance technology. Standard features include: Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert.
Front Assist is intended to warn drivers of potential frontal collisions (Forward Collision Warning) with vehicles, and in some cases provide automatic braking assistance (Autonomous Emergency Braking).
Within physical system limits, Forward Collision Warning can warn the driver of potential critical front-end collision situations, both acoustically and visually by a warning symbol in the instrument cluster if the car is traveling above 18 mph. Furthermore, an automatic jolt of the brakes can warn the driver of the danger. If the driver fails to brake, or if the car is traveling below 18 mph, Autonomous Emergency Braking is activated to help slow the vehicle. If the brake pedal is applied but the driver brakes too lightly, the brake pressure is increased by the system (Braking Support).
Blind Spot Monitor uses two radar sensors at the rear of the vehicle to scan the approaching traffic and is intended to warn drivers of potential danger in adjacent lanes. If the driver uses the turn signal to indicate a lane change while a vehicle is detected in a blind spot, the system utilizes a flashing LED symbol in the outer area of the side mirrors. Even if the driver does not use a turn signal, the LED symbol in the mirror will illuminate if a vehicle is detected in the blind spot. The system is designed to help alert drivers in specific situations; stationary objects or oncoming vehicles do not trigger warnings, nor do vehicles more than one lane across away from the vehicle.
The Rear Traffic Alert system is intended to detect vehicles approaching from the side that may be difficult for the driver to see while reversing. It offers a sizable range of about 65 feet on either side of the vehicle, and will present a visual and an acoustic warning, if a potential collision with a crossing vehicle is detected. If the driver does not react, the system can apply the brakes to help mitigate and, in the best case, can prevent a collision. The system is activated by putting the car in reverse.
For the 2019 model year, Volkswagen Jetta GLI models in the United States will come with America’s Best Bumper-to-Bumper Transferable Warranty, a six-year or 72,000-mile (whichever occurs first) bumper-to-bumper New Vehicle Limited Warranty, the remainder of which can be transferred to a subsequent vehicle owner throughout its duration.