• Feb 9, 2011
2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI – Click above for high-res image gallery

Volkswagen has brought its latest iteration of the new-for-2011 Jetta – the turbocharged GLI – to this year's Chicago Auto Show, and we're quickly falling in love with the Autobahn-ready VW. The Jetta's already handsome (if decidedly sedate) looks are emphasized by larger 18-inch alloy wheels, a more aggressive front fascia and smoked taillamps, and when the whole package is painted in pull-me-over red, we can't help but daydream about whipping the new Jetta GLI around our favorite set of twisty backroads.

The Jetta GLI appears eager to perform, too. Under the hood is Volkswagen's turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four, rated at 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. Both a manual and dual-clutch transmission are available, the latter of which allows the Jetta GLI to achieve up to 32 miles per gallon on the highway. Not bad.

The big change, of course, is that the GLI will benefit from a more sophisticated independent rear suspension than the standard Jetta, and VW has ported over its XDS cross differential technology from the GTI.

Look for the 2012 Jetta GLI to go on sale later this year, priced from $23,495. Check it out for yourself in our high-res gallery of live shots below.

Photos copyright ©2011 Steven J. Ewing / AOL
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Volkswagen Unveils the New 2012 Jetta GLI, A German Performance Sedan at an Accessible Price

Jetta GLI is the complete Volkswagen package: A well-balanced, fun-to-drive, German-engineered performance vehicle – at an accessible price

HERNDON, Va., February 8, 2010 - Volkswagen of America, Inc. today announced the debut of the new 2012 Jetta GLI, which combines the comfort and sophistication of a Jetta with aggressive performance and handling in a sporty yet sleek package. The all-new Jetta GLI is the most differentiated Jetta GLI model ever made by Volkswagen. With a rich heritage that dates back to 1984, the new Jetta GLI is sure to appeal to both automotive enthusiasts and everyday drivers alike.

The Jetta GLI offers exceptional features and options, for equally impressive pricing. Available in three trim levels, the Jetta GLI has a starting MSRP of $23,495. The GLI Autobahn, with an MSRP of $25,545, adds 18" alloy wheels, sunroof, dual zone climate control, heated V-Tex Leatherette seats and the Fender® Premium Audio System. The top of the line Jetta GLI Autobahn with Navigation adds the RNS-315 navigation system and keyless access with push-button start technology for an MSRP of $26,445.

Engine and Transmission

The sporty Jetta GLI boasts the award winning 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, generating 200 horsepower and a full 207 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,700 rpm, contributing to drivability and response of the vehicle in both everyday and performance situations. The Jetta GLI is offered with a six speed manual transmission as standard equipment. This new model is significantly lighter than the previous Jetta GLI and it offers power and performance coupled with German sensibilities. While EPA figures are not yet available, the Jetta GLI is expected to deliver 31 mpg highway with the manual and 32 mpg highway with the DSG® automatic.

Additional performance features for the Jetta GLI include:

Track tuned four-way Independent Performance Suspension for superb handling

DSG® automatic gearbox that offers steering wheel mounted paddles shifters, super quick shift times and rev-matched downshifts

XDS® cross differential system that debuted on the Volkswagen GTI, that helps prevent inside wheel spin during cornering

Four wheel disc brakes with floating red calipers

Premium Features

To make life on the road a little easier, the Jetta GLI offers sophisticated, German engineered premium appointments. Features include standard 6.5" touch screen premium VIII radio with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, standard one-touch up/down power on all four windows, standard multifunction display (for vehicle status, trip, radio and navigation information when equipped), available dual zone climate control, available RNS-315 navigation system and available keyless entry with pushbutton start.

The 2012 Jetta GLI Autobahn and Autobahn with navigation models come standard with a Fender® Premium Audio System, bringing the concert stage to the vehicle for the ultimate music experience. Designed exclusively for Volkswagen, the Fender® Premium Audio System is embedded in the vehicle design and features proprietary Panasonic® speaker technology. The system covers the cabin with directional sound from front door speakers that generate imaging beyond the capabilities of traditional speaker designs. It cuts through the noise and other distractions with front dual voice coil speakers, with extended range for all musical genres.

The sound system features lower inter-modulation distortion and smooth mid-range response to eliminate harshness. It is harmonically complex, with extended range tweeters and properly voiced 16cm speakers revealing original instrumentation timbre and harmonic richness, bringing the raw emotion of live music to the driving experience.


The Jetta GLI combines performance, space and comfort in one sleek package. At 182.2 inches long, 57.2 inches tall and 70 inches wide, it is more than 2.9 inches longer than previous Jetta models.

The front end of the car is defined by prominent horizontal lines. The Jetta GLI grille and the car's trapezoidal headlights help create a distinct look. Below the bumper is a cooling air intake and tray-shaped front spoiler that completes the masculine look of the car. The upper front end section shows a powerful transition from the v-shaped engine hood to the fenders on the sides while the shoulder section provides dynamic and muscular styling.

The aggressive styling of the Jetta GLI is powerfully emphasized by the arches of the wheel wells available with 17" or 18" alloys. Sleek lines and sporty shoulders dominate the rear section. The smoked taillights stand out with two distinct sections extending on either side from the fender into the tailgate above the dual exhaust tips.


Like the exterior, the interior of the Jetta GLI stays true to its sport and performance roots. Featuring sport bucket seats with red stitching and a sport flat-bottom steering wheel with red stitching, the GLI logo and aluminum accents, the interior styling consistently follows the clean, sporty lines of the car. The Jetta GLI is available in cloth or V-Tex Leatherette and also features sleek alloy pedals, shifter, dash and door trim.

Intuitive controls and well-arranged instruments allow drivers to enjoy a comfortable and ergonomically designed gear shift grip. Further up on the center console are the newly designed and intuitive controls for climate and radio. The console is also slightly inclined toward the driver to heighten comfort behind the wheel.

To increase versatility, the rear bench seatback is split 60/40 and folds. The trunk can also be opened from inside the car by a remote unlock switch.


The Jetta GLI includes several features designed to enhance driver and passenger safety including electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring and Volkswagen's advanced Intelligent Crash Response System, which initiates automatic safety protection in some types of collisions - the electrical supply to the fuel pump is shut off, the doors unlock and the hazard lights switch on.

As part of the equipment package, the Jetta GLI also features driver and front passenger airbags, side airbags in front and Side Curtain Protection® airbags in front and rear.

Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Eos, Golf, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, CC, Tiguan, Touareg and Routan through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers. All 2011 Volkswagen vehicles come standard- equipped with Electronic Stability Control (ESC). This is important because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called ESC the most effective new vehicle safety technology since the safety belt. Visit Volkswagen of America online at www.vw.com or www.media.vw.com to learn more.
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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have a 2011 Sonata limited turbo, stickered over 30k and had no HID's, it does now though. I owned a 06 GLI which seemed just as quick despite the power difference. My Sonata has a terrible left pull issue which almost everyone has with no recall or tsb out yet. For roughly 25k i think this is an awesome value and will definitely be checking it out in a few months.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I guess I must be getting old. I think the car looks decent and the performance sounds pretty decent to me. The price doesn't seem that bad considering the average cost of a car these days and the performance this car should give. I guess I'm showing my age but this would be the perfect type of car for me. Not flashy but decent price and decent performance.
      • 3 Years Ago
      As a owner of a 2003 tdi, its makes me sad to be a volkswagen owner. Is the vw 2.0t officially the lowest HP turbo engine of any major player?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Yes, by a WIDE margin if you don't count the 2.0T in the Genesis coupe which was detuned to no end.

        Hyundai 2.0T: 274HP
        Mazda MZR 2.3T: 263HP 280 ft-lb
        Honda's 2.3T: 240HP 260 ft-lb NON DI!!!
        Ford 2.0 Ecoboost: 247HP
        GMs 2.0T: 260HP

        VWs 200HP is pathetic, especially since it does have DI.
          • 3 Years Ago
          You forget the 2.0t is detuned as well. If they tuned it to 270hp, who buys the v6? It's their (VW/Audi) low end. The turbos you listed are those companies highend. It makes perfect sense. And I'm perfectly happy with my APR-tuned 2.0t A4.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I like it...

      I will wait a couple years and buy one used though.
        • 3 Years Ago
        *backs out of the room slowly then turns around runs*
        • 3 Years Ago
        I am a simple guy with a complicated sense of style. I like a wide range of cars from the goofy looking (Juke) to the beautiful (Aston Martin). This is somewhere in between and has some goods to along with it (IRS, 6spd manual, 4 wheel discs, and good engine).

        Does that answer you question?
        • 3 Years Ago
        Why would you want this over a Kia Optima? This VW looks like its suffering from clinical depression. To each his own I guess.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I'm on iKingston's side here. I think this is a very handsome car with kit that isn't available on other cars in the segment. It might look "boring" to you, but there's more to design than the number of surface variations and crazy headlights. It has great proportions and still looks decidedly german. And with an IRS and 6-speed, it's probably a hoot to drive.

        But I own an Audi A4 Avant... which is a relatively small, somewhat plain family hauler. Only it looks and drives better than anything else that you could compare it to.
        • 3 Years Ago
        This comment probably won't make since after Ching Chong is flagged and his comment gets deleted, but kids with learners permits really shouldn't be allowed to comment on car blogs anyway. True car enthusiasts can recognize the attributes of a wide variety of vehicles, and appreciate them for what they are. Mr/Ms Kingston seems to have an appreciation for well designed cars that meet the needs of their target audiences, and I for one respect his opinion. Just because the Jetta isn't your favorite design doesn't mean it's a piece of crap. It has a purpose and a place and if you feel the need to bash people for expressing positive opinions about it, you've really gone off the deep end.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Who do you think you are, writing on here about how my life was/is?!? You obviously are the one with issues and I think you need talk to someone about them.

        By the way, I know and have what I want in life.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Weird world of blogsphere. How did "I like it" suddenly turned into talking about iKingston's life?

        • 3 Years Ago

        I personally think it looks better than a Kia Optima. It's design is more straight forward. I also prefer VW over Kia, however fair or unfair that may be.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks better than the base model, at least to me, and the suspension seems to be sorted out. I might actually consider this, despite the styling being a bit understated. It looks pretty darn nice in red though.
        • 3 Years Ago
        My thoughts exactly. I think the GLI is the Jetta for traditional VW buyers, with the engine, suspension and interior quality they've come to expect. The Jetta has always been an understated model, and their styling tends to age gracefully.
      • 3 Years Ago
      A German Camry?
      • 3 Years Ago
      So, how is this so much better than the new Civic Si with an unconfirmed (but at least) 200hp?

      Horsepower? no.
      Price? no.
      MPG? probably not.
      Interior? unless the quality improved from the base model, doubt it.
      Looks? subjective.

      Has VW "lost their way" with this Jetta?
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ zamafir

        The current Si is still slightly faster in a straight line than the GLI. If this this one is heavier than the last GLI, then the Si will still be faster. The 2.4 will address the torque issues.

        The F20 and F22 cost a FORTUNE to manufacture, and weren't designed be mounted in FWD vehicles so that wouldn't work.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks pretty good, but those base halogens are a snooze. No HIDs or LEDs?

      • 3 Years Ago
      I have been thinking about getting this car when it comes out, but I'm disappointed by the non-lowered suspension, the chrome window trim (gti doesnt have it last gen gli didnt have it, why put it here?), and the the cheap looking tacked on plastic on the sides and rear bumper (unlike the m sport 3 and 5 series, which have different bumpers, not just tacked on plastic to make it look sportier). Oh well, Im headed to Chicago next weekend to check it out, along with the Lexus ct 200h.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'll Keep my GTI. Thanks.
      • 3 Years Ago
      So, does the GLI have upgraded interior materials? All the reviews I have read have slammed VW for using cheaper materials in the interior. Also, just how big is the new Jetta? Closer to say, the Civic or Accord? What is the TDI going to cost?
        • 3 Years Ago
        GLI has upgraded materials and multilink suspension. It's really close to Euro Jetta. It's between Civic and Accord (but still closer to Civic). TDI starts from $23k but in SE trim (no multilink susp., downgraded plastics).
        • 3 Years Ago
        "As it stands though, the GLI is a HUGE improvement over the standard Jetta on all fronts. We are happy to say that VW enthusiasts that bought a Jetta in the last 12 years finally have a viable option now"

        Yes, it has upgraded interior materials:

      • 3 Years Ago
      The new Jetta has the presence of a 'saltine cracker'.
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