Like some of the world’s best-known celebrities, among car cognoscenti, some models need only one name (think Corvette or 911). Well, here’s another to add to that list: the GLI, the performance-oriented edition of the compact Volkswagen Jetta sedan.
When designing this close relative of the souped-up Golf hatchback known as the GTI, the GLI’s engineers basically lifted the good stuff from the hot hatchback and transplanted it into the already-fun-to-drive seventh-generation Jetta.
The transformation starts with shoehorning the same 228-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the Jetta’s hood. Power is sent to the front wheels via a slick close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox with a precise feel (a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission is an option).
With that much power on tap, it’s no surprise that the GLI moves out smartly. Beefed-up suspension, steering and brake hardware also make the transition, creating one of the most entertaining sports sedans on the road today.
- Back seat has room for two adults.
- Reasonable price tag and 32 m.p.g. on the highway make it a surprisingly responsible choice.
- Its looks aren’t flashy enough to satisfy some buyers.
- The DSG automatic is nice, but the manual is a joy to use.
- Low-key looks mean no one will know how much fun you’re having.
- Base Price: $25,995
- As Tested: $31,185
- 25/32 (2.0L I4/manual)