Volkswagen of America, Inc. unveiled the new 2019 Jetta GLI at the Chicago Auto Show. In 2018, Volkswagen completely overhauled the compact Jetta to cater specifically to American buyers, with bolder design, more interior space than the outgoing model, and new technology. Building on the success of that model, today’s GLI ups the performance ante with more power, sharper handling, and features shared with GTI and Golf R.
“Volkswagen has long been synonymous with small, sporty cars,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “The redesigned 2019 Jetta proved once more that its combination of design, technology and value continues to resonate with buyers. The 2019 GLI takes the Jetta foundation and adds performance features from the Golf GTI to give buyers a true sport sedan.”
While the 2019 GLI features the MQB architecture, coupe-like profile and oversized grille 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. Standard LED projector headlights with LED DRLs flank a black honeycomb grille with red accent line that harkens to the GTI. Golf R brakes, with red-painted calipers, stand out in the sleek 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels that are exclusive to GLI. In the rear, standard LED taillights are joined by a spoiler and unique rear bumper with finned diffusor and dual chrome exhaust tips to give it a truly unique rear view. A 35th Anniversary model features unique black wheels with a red stripe, a black roof, black mirror caps, black tail spoiler, and 35th anniversary badging inside and out.
Inside, the GLI transforms the Jetta’s modern cabin with nods to the Volkswagen performance family. A black interior sets the stage for red accents 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 base model add grey piping, while red accents peek out of the Autobahn’s perforated leather seats. Diamond flag décor trim reinforces the sporty nature of the car, as does the standard leather-wrapped sport multifunction steering wheel and available sport HMI display from the GTI. The 35th Anniversary model has unique seat tags, floormats, and sill kickplates.
The 2019 GLI is powered by Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection EA888 TSI® engine, making 228 horsepower (achieved with premium fuel) and 258 pound-feet of torque, 18 more horsepower and 41 lb-ft more than the previous GLI. This engine, shared with 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 six-speed manual transmission, with an available seven- speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission. Automatic transmission models come standard with a Start/Stop system designed to 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.
The Jetta GLI features an all-around independent sport suspension, with a strut-type setup at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear. The brakes are shared with the Golf GTI and Golf R, using 13.4-inch diameter vented front discs. Like the GTI, the GLI is fitted as standard with Volkswagen’s VAQ electronically controlled, torque sensing limited-slip differential that helps to eliminate understeer, as well as variable ratio electric steering. The 35th Anniversary model is also fitted with the DCC® adaptive damping system.
Driving Mode Selection comes standard, and allows drivers to customize their vehicle’s dynamic behavior. This system includes four modes to choose from: “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 for improved fuel economy. Custom allows a driver to tailor the steering, throttle, front differential, engine note, and climate control settings. The 35th Anniversary model with DCC allows the driver to adjust damping settings and also adds a fifth “Comfort” mode.
An impressive list of creature comforts and technology come standard on GLI. To keep passengers comfortable, heated seats, dual-zone Climatronic® automatic climate control, automatic headlights, KESSY® keyless access with push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are standard.
Standard technology features include Driver Personalization, App-Connect technology that offers compatible smartphone integration with the three major platforms—Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®—and 10-color customizable wrap-around ambient lighting. Available features include a sunroof, the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit display with unique GLI graphics, 400-watt BeatsAudio® system, Volkswagen Car-Net® connected vehicle services, SiriusXM® radio, Voice Control, a second USB port, power driver seat with memory and lumbar, ventilated seats, and remote start.
The GLI’s technology features extend beyond the cabin to include a comprehensive suite of standard safety and driver assistance technology. Standard features include Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Blind Spot Monitor, Rear Traffic Alert, and the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.
Every GLI model will come with the People First Warranty, America’s Best Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty. The warranty provides coverage for six-years or 72,000-miles (whichever occurs first), and the warranty can be transferred to a subsequent owner throughout the remainder of its duration.
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI will be available in two regular trim levels and a 35th Anniversary Edition. It is expected to begin arriving at U.S. Volkswagen dealers in the Spring of 2019.