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Car Reviews
2021 Review: Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Reasonably priced cars are usually functional to a fault, while sporty cars tend to scream, “Hey, look at me!” The Volkswagen Jetta GLI is something else altogether.

Oh, sure, this compact sport sedan version of the performance-oriented Golf GTI hatchback offers plenty of practicality, with good fuel economy, a roomy interior and straightforward controls. The main word I’d use to describe it, though, is woo-hoo!

From the test car’s strong 228- horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder to its slick six-speed manual gearbox, the GLI was an outright joy to drive. Acceleration is abundant enough to put a smile on your face after even a short spin.

The adaptive suspension that came standard on the top-of-the-line Autobahn model I drove made a good thing even better. This electronically controlled system stiffens things for improved handling in spirited motoring and relaxes the settings for a smooth ride on more leisurely road trips.

Figure in subtle sporty styling details, and you have something rare: an affordable, practical car that’s also great fun to drive.


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  • Outstanding performance in a low-key package  
  • Its large trunk means you can take it with you.


  • The model’s appearance might not be aggressive enough for some.
  • The base model lacks some of the top GLI trim level’s best features.



  • If you love to drive but prefer to fly under the radar, here’s your car.



  • Base Price: $26,345
  • As Tested: $31,340



  • NHTSA: Overall: 5 Stars (top rating).


M.P.G. (city/highway)

  • 24/33 (2.0L/manual)
  • 24/35 (2.0L/automatic)