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 35th Anniversary Edition model, which adds dark grey wheels with red accents and black body detailing as well as special badging, plus adaptive dampers. The 35th 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.