Volkswagen Jetta GLI Debuts Sporting European Features

Volkswagen has been in the news for its highly-successful “The Force” Super Bowl advertisement. Featuring a mini-Darth Vader, the ad proved to be a great way to introduce the 2012 Passat.

The redesigned Passat, formerly known as the “NMS” (New Mid-Size Sedan) is coming as VW looks to expand its influence in the United States-market. The 2011 Jetta first heralded this new approach, introduced as a model to go head-to-head with more downmarket competition than before. The new Jetta, with its lower price point, competes against cars like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

Many have lamented the company’s new, more cookie-cutter approach. It doesn’t mean the company has to abandon offering more premium models altogether however. The GLI comes as an upscale offering akin to the previous Jetta.

At launch, VW planned for four engine availability options to be available in the new Jetta. Three have already been made available, the 2.0- and 2.5-liter engines, along with a 2.0-liter TDI diesel. The new GLI brings the forth the fourth (no pun intended) engine option in the group. Upgrading to it means getting one of the best engine and transmission combinations in VW’s portfolio.

The GLI’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder comes from the GTI and makes 200 horsepower and 207-pound feet of torque. It is mated to your choice of VW’s excellent DSG automatic gearbox or a good ol’ six-speed manual. To maintain control of that power, the car gets the GTI’s XDS cross-differential system as well as four-wheel disc brakes with floating red calipers.

The GLI’s styling is more aggressive, with new 18-inch wheels, and a larger cooling air intake and front spoiler that Volkswagen says “completes the masculine look of the car.” Out back the car gets smoked taillights.

The GLI also adds some of the premium features that the standard Jetta lost to get to its current price point – things like multilink rear suspension. VW says the GLI has a “track tuned…four-way independent suspension.” This is something shared with the North American Jetta’s more upscale European Jetta counterpart. There is no word on whether the car gets the European model’s upgraded wiring system, interior materials and added sound deadening.

Pegged as a “German sports sedan at an accessible price,” the GLI is available in three trim levels. Standard GLI, GLI Autobahn and GLI Autobahn Navigation. Pricing for the three checks in at $23,495, $25,545 and $26,445 respectively. The GLI Autobahn adds premium features like dual-zone climate control, heated seats and VW’s exclusive Fender audio system. The $26,445 GLI Autobahn Navigation gets a navigation system and keyless entry with push-button starter. The car is set to go on sale later this year.

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