Chicago Show 2011 Highlights: 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Throughout its history, the Volkswagen Jetta has been basically the sedan version of VW’s Golf. Not so anymore. While they still share some parts underneath, they’ve largely diverged. At the behest of the American market, the latest Jetta is larger and less expensive than before, which leaves the Golf to fill orders for an extra-German alternative. And so it is with those cars’ respective performance variants, the GLI and GTI, although they'll continue to share perhaps their most important component: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque.

There’s nothing too surprising about this new GLI. In fact, we already had a go in the European equivalent, the 2.0 TSI, during the Jetta launch last summer. We came away from the experience reassured that the GLI will remain the sportiest of the bunch, and it will be the nicest U.S.-spec Jetta, too. We’ve mentioned a few times before that the regular Jetta was decontented a bit for American consumption, including a switch from the Euro car’s soft-touch dashboard to one rendered in a harder plastic and the axing of the multilink rear suspension in favor of a torsion-beam setup. Fortunately, those switcheroos get switched right back for the GLI. In addition, the sporty Jetta now inherits from the GTI the XDS electronic “differential,” which uses brake force to quell inside-front wheelspin during cornering.

The Jetta lineup as a whole is a bit lighter than before by about 100 pounds for comparable models, a slimming which could help the GLI’s performance numbers. Our best 0-to-60-mph time with the previous car was 6.4 seconds with a manual transmission. The GLI will again be offered with either a six-speed stick or six-speed dual-clutch DSG automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddles. VW estimates fuel-economy ratings of 31 mpg highway with the manual and 32 highway with the DSG.

Thanks to: Car and Driver


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