2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI: A Cheaper GTI for Car Enthusiasts

2019 vw jetta gli

First cars are a defining moment in our lives. They hold the power to shape our memories and ignite a passion for automobiles. As an automotive journalist, I have a special connection with my first car, a European-spec 1986 Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Now, as I step into the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI, I can’t help but feel a rush of nostalgia and excitement, even though this new model is vastly different from my beloved Mk2.

The 2019 VW Jetta GLI retains the essence of its predecessor, offering affordable performance wrapped in a sleek design. While subtle, the new GLI features more aggressive front and rear lower fascias, side sills, and a modest rear spoiler, complemented by unique 18-inch alloys. It exudes a restrained sophistication that is characteristic of the GLI lineage.

Under the hood, the Jetta GLI shares its performance DNA with the iconic GTI hatchback. Powered by a tuned version of VW’s 2.0-liter turbocharged TSI four-cylinder engine, the GLI delivers an impressive 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Compared to the standard Jetta’s 1.4-liter engine, the GLI’s power is a noticeable upgrade, offering spirited acceleration and a 0-to-60 mph time of around 6 seconds.

Whether paired with a six-speed manual or a quick-shifting seven-speed DSG dual-clutch gearbox, the GLI’s drivetrain excels at putting the power to the ground. Thanks to its sturdy MQB platform, VAQ limited-slip differential, and grippy 18-inch Hankook Ventus S1 Evo 3 tires, the GLI offers confident and thrilling performance in various driving scenarios. Its multilink rear suspension, borrowed from the GTI, further enhances handling, providing a balance between agility and comfort.

The Jetta GLI’s engaging driving experience is complemented by its roomy cabin and improved dimensions. With a longer wheelbase and slightly larger exterior dimensions, the GLI offers more interior space and a spacious trunk with 14.1 cubic feet of cargo capacity. While the cabin design may lack the sporty flair of its GTI sibling, it compensates with practicality and a driver-focused layout.

READ  Chevrolet Corvette SUV: What to Expect from the Future Model

In terms of pricing, the Jetta GLI stands out as a value proposition. Starting at $25,995 for the base S model, it is priced significantly lower than its GTI counterpart. Even the top-of-the-line Autobahn model, priced at $29,195, offers great performance and features at a reasonable cost. However, it is worth noting that the GLI’s interior falls short in terms of material quality. The cabin, while functional, lacks the premium feel found in rival models like the Honda Civic Si or Hyundai Elantra Sport.

In terms of safety, the 2019 Jetta GLI comes well-equipped with standard blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alert, and full LED lighting. However, adaptive cruise control is noticeably absent.

To summarize, the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI delivers an exhilarating driving experience akin to its GTI sibling at a more affordable price point. Its performance, practicality, and stylish design make it an enticing option for car enthusiasts. Although the cabin quality leaves something to be desired, the GLI’s overall value and performance prowess make it a strong contender in its class.


Q: Is the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI available with a manual transmission?

A: Yes, the Jetta GLI offers a six-speed manual transmission, adding to the driver engagement and enjoyment.

Q: How does the Jetta GLI’s performance compare to the standard Jetta?

A: The GLI’s performance is significantly better than the standard Jetta. With a more powerful engine and sport-tuned suspension, the GLI offers a more exhilarating and dynamic driving experience.

Q: Does the Jetta GLI have the same handling as the GTI?

READ  10 Smallest Cars on Sale 2024

A: The Jetta GLI shares many performance features with the GTI, including a similar suspension setup. While it may not have the exact handling characteristics of the GTI, the GLI delivers a balanced and responsive driving experience.


The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI combines affordability with exhilarating performance, making it a compelling choice for car enthusiasts. With its sleek design, powerful engine, and engaging driving dynamics, the GLI stands as a more affordable alternative to the GTI. Despite some compromises in cabin quality, the GLI offers a practical and enjoyable driving experience that will satisfy even the most discerning drivers. To learn more about the latest news and reviews in the world of cars, visit Car news.