Volkswagen’s Golf GTI has been a cherished vehicle for many years. Yet, for those who favor a saloon over a hatchback, Volkswagen presents the Jetta GLI. The 2023 Jetta GLI essentially serves as a saloon version of the GTI and competes to some degree with the Honda Civic Si and to some extent with the Hyundai Elantra N.
Although closely linked to the GTI, the Jetta GLI has one distinction. The Jetta GLI is constructed on the preceding iteration of the MQB platform, whilst the GTI now employs an updated iteration of the same platform. Despite its older origins, the Jetta GLI still holds its own.
The Jetta GLI is furnished with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder motor that delivers 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This marks a notable enhancement over the regular Jetta’s 158-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo motor. It’s worth noting that the GTI features a modified variant of the same motor, producing 241 horsepower. The four-cylinder motor can be matched with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Compared to its primary rival, the Honda Civic Si, the Jetta GLI’s additional power is evident. The Civic Si only boasts 200 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque. The Hyundai Elantra N also falls into the compact saloon category, but its 276 horsepower sets it apart from both the Jetta GLI and Civic Si.
The Jetta GLI shares certain components with the seventh-generation GTI, including its front brakes. It also integrates a limited-slip differential, adaptive suspension, and a distinctive steering system to enrich its driving experience. The introduction of summer tires, similar to the GTI, could offer superior grip.
The power from the Jetta GLI is transmitted to the front wheels, offering ample power for a delightful city commute. Unlike the Civic Si, the Jetta GLI is obtainable with an automatic transmission, rendering it more appealing to a broader audience. The automatic transmission changes gears swiftly and seamlessly as speed escalates, although downshifting may be somewhat sluggish. The variable ratio electric power steering system provides satisfactory aid in city driving, yet it lacks responsiveness on winding roads.
Despite the augmented power, the Jetta GLI doesn’t greatly compromise on fuel efficiency. It achieves a fuel economy rating of 26 mpg in the city, 37 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg combined with the six-speed manual transmission. The automatic variant is nearly as efficient with a rating of 26/36/30 mpg.
The Jetta GLI’s cabin receives some enhancements compared to the standard Jetta, featuring sportier leather seats, a 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster, ambient lighting, and a spacious sunroof. However, the interior could benefit from superior quality materials as there is an excessive amount of hard plastic covering it. On the technological front, it offers an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, wireless charging, and a Beats audio system.
The 2023 Jetta GLI is solely available in one trim, Autobahn, commencing at $32,680, inclusive of destination fees. The automatic version is priced at $33,480.
To sum up, the 2023 Volkswagen Jetta GLI presents itself as an almost flawless compact sports saloon for those looking to infuse some enjoyment into their everyday commute.
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