Several months ago I reviewed the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta sedan. I liked the car but it was a sedate, average daily driver. Recently I received the Jetta GLI, and I gotta tell ya, where the Jetta 1.8T left off the GLI begins, and for 2016 the GLI gets some nice upgrades.
Think of the GLI as the sedan version of the fun little Golf GTI. It features sport-tuned suspension and a peppy 210hp 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged direct-injected four-cylinder engine. Oh, and you can get it with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Leading the enhancements for 2016 is more aggressive front fascia including new grille and foglights and a new rear bumper design with diffuser and dual chrome-tipped exhausts. It also gets 18-inch Mallory design aluminum alloy wheels with either all-season or summer performance tires.
Inside there is the new MIB 2 infotainment system featuring USB and Car-Net connectivity along with all the best Volkswagen has to offer in the Jetta lineup including the rocking Fender premium audio system. The GLI arrives in SE or SEL trim and our tester was of the latter, meaning it also included blind spot detection with rear traffic alert, adaptive front lighting, and navigation. All new GLI models get Volkswagen’s automatic post-collision braking system.
Pricing is $30,100 out the door for the GLI SEL model with the manual tranny, and if you want the DSG automatic tack on another grand. Fuel economy from the 210hp/207 lb. ft. torque 2.0T engine is 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.
Our tester arrived in fiery Tornado Red body paint. This thing looked fast just sitting still. The interior was black leather that was comfortable most of the time, but climbing in after work under the Texas summer sun it was a bit extreme. Here, I would prefer some type sport cloth seat material.
The 2016 VW Jetta GLI is a blast to drive and takes the mundane to a higher level. Suspension is quite stable without being too stiff, and the car handles well in the corners while remaining stable and smooth on mixed road surfaces. It accelerates quickly with long gear runout, and neither shifter nor clutch becomes overbearing. We found ourselves looking for longer routes to and from work just to get more of the fun driving experience. This is the Jetta that could – and does.