As we've reported earlier, the new GLI isn't just a sticker special, nor does it merely consist of the GTI engine in an otherwise humdrum base sedan. Instead, the GLI spec adds proper goodies such as multi-link rear suspension, a limited-slip front differential and bigger, R specification brakes to make the Jetta more of a performance bargain. With 228 horsepower, the 2019 GLI is up 18 horsepower from the previous generation model, but the GTI and R hardware transplants mean it's not just about straight-line speed.
The most affordable GLI is the S version for the aforementioned MSRP. It comes as manual, rolls on 18-inch wheels, has LED lighting front and rear, and there's dual-zone Climatronic A/C and sport seats. seven-speed DSG transmission means an $800 bump on all trim levels.
Above the S is the 35 th Anniversary Edition model, which adds dark grey wheels with red accents and black body detailing as well as special badging, plus adaptive dampers. The 35 th Anniversary GLI is $1,000 dearer than the S, meaning a $28,690 final price with destination fees for the manual version.
The top spec for the GLI is the Autobahn trim, which starts at $30,090 including destination, and adds a panoramic sunroof, 10.25-inch display screen and 8-inch touchscreen, Beats audio, and leather seats with the fronts ventilated and the driver seat powered.
Compare those prices with the GTI hot hatch's $28,490 starting price, especially since the GTI prices got a $1,180 raise for 2019 thanks to the newly standard equipment limited slip differential, which is also included in the Jetta GLI. And while the R has 60 extra horsepower, it's also quite a bit more expensive at $40,395 excluding destination fees. It seems that the smart money is going to go to the notchback instead.