By on September 1, 2011

The difference between “bold” and “foolhardy” is not always apparent at first glance. While I was driving the GLI around Volkswagen’s Virginia test loop (insert standard narrative devices here: 11/10ths, drive like the wind, straining the limits of machine and man, et cetera) I saw a tall, lithe young woman by the side of the road. She was holding a dog and chatting with a rather fearsome-looking fellow in an old Toyota truck. Without thinking too much, I whipped the Jetta around at the next driveway and returned to the couple. Flashing my hotel room card very quickly and identifying myself as “Jonny Lieberman of Motor Trend magazine”, I convinced the girl to pose with the Jetta. This was intended to be a sort of homage to AutoSpies founder Donald Buffamanti’s habit of photographing all available women, and it was particularly amusing given the very rural circumstances.

At the time, however, there was a very real chance that the fellow in the Toyota would simply step out and maul me like a crazed bear working its way through a deer carcass. I never found out what his relationship to the young woman was — husband? father? cello teacher? dog trainer? — but he didn’t care for me one bit. In retrospect, that little impromptu photo shoot was less “bold” and more “foolhardy”.

The same fine line applies to “forthright” and “contrarian”. After driving the Beetle Turbo, Golf R, and Golf GTI, I steered two examples of Volkswagen’s new Jetta GLI down the same route. Why two Jettas, when I’d driven one each of the other cars? Two reasons: I wanted to try the DSG and the six-speed manual back-to-back, and I wanted to be sure. My drive of the DSG-equipped Jetta GLI suggested to me that it was a better, more enjoyable car than the GTI, but I knew that this “forthright” opinion would come off as “contrarian” to many of TTAC’s readers. After driving the standard-shift GLI, I was sure.

Will you, the reader, be as easily convinced as I was?

Once each year, the Italian fashion house of Ermenegildo Zegna holds a competition for Australian sheep. The award-winning sheep are shorn and their wool becomes Zegna’s “Trofeo” fabric. Rare, expensive, and possessed of an ethereal tactile quality, Trofeo is a true delight to touch and wear. As I dragged my aging carcass under the Jetta to photograph the revised rear suspension, grinding a one-of-a-kind green plaid Trofeo sportcoat into the hot Virginia tarmac, I wondered why I was the only person I’d seen do this all day. After all the pissing and moaning about the base Jetta’s twist-beam rear suspension, surely this would be the photo that everyone wanted? Guess not. I’m not likely to ever step through the revolving door between automotive PR and “journalism”, but if I had VW PR guy Mark Gillies’ job, I would have moved heaven and earth to put twist beams under the test GLIs just so I could chuckle over the “brilliant multi-link suspension” reviews afterwards. Kind of like the time two Chicago-area journos tested a Mustang and raved about how the “Track Pack” completely changed the character of the car. Oops! Turns out that their Mustang tester didn’t have the Track Pack. Oh well. Everybody still got paid.

Why waste time looking at suspension when we can offer caustic opinions on the revised interior? Speaking personally, I couldn’t tell much difference between this and the GTI. Don’t take my word for it, however, since not even the worst Volkswagen dealer in the world (an honor I would personally give to Checkered Flag VW in Virginia, the place which apparently ran a Brillo pad over my 2006 Phaeton and curbed the wheels before delivering it to me) is going to keep you from sitting in one. Check it out yourself. As in the GTI, the controls are mostly logical and accessible. It seems nice enough, particularly for the money. Speaking of: Twenty-five grand will get you all the GLI you need.

The GLI’s mission, stated or unstated, has always been “provide Americans with the most affordable sporting German (or German-brand) sedan available” and the styling continues to reflect this. The changes are just enough to let people who care about this sort of thing know that you’re driving the sporty Jetta and not the base model.

Just how sporty is it? If you read my GTI review yesterday, you know that the GLI’s hatchback cousin is quite sporty indeed, and deserving of superlatives. It seemed like it would be a tough contender to beat on the backroads — and yet the GLI manages to do exactly that. How? Why?

We’ll start with the one real black mark on the GLI’s report card (other than the ones Consumer Reports will give it, wink, wink): the button to disable traction control has disappeared. How VW can justify letting Phaeton owners turn DSC off but prevent GLI drivers from doing so is beyond me. This is something the company needs to fix. It’s not that the car needs to have DSC disabled in order to make good time down a backroad. That’s not the case at all. Rather, it’s the simple fact that over the course of a car’s lifetime, there will be times when it’s best to turn a brake-based traction-control system off. Deep snow, nursing a car with a frozen brake caliper or worn-out pads to a service station, and so on. There’s no reason not to have the option available. It’s a fifty-cent button.

Enough griping. I come to praise the GLI, not bury it. Start with the suspension. It’s measurably softer than that of the GTI, but the same excellence in damping is there. If anything, the GLI was even more competent through the “whomp” zone I detailed in the GTI test, controlling the body nicely even though I really jammed it through that secion when driving the manual-transmission car.

Hear me now and believe me later: you want a relatively soft suspension in a road car. Suspension absorbs bumps and controls the body. That’s its purpose. Stiff suspension, particularly suspension that is stiff in “jounce”, decreases the car’s ability to stay in contact with the road. The same goes for roll stiffness. A little of it is nice, because we don’t want to heel over so far that the car won’t steer correctly, but in general we want the car to comply with the road’s demands. Stiff suspension feels fast, but outside a racetrack it’s rarely the quickest way to get anywhere. Just keep the car from hitting the bumpstops or stroking the shocks all the way to their extension point, and leave the rest to me.

Some TTAC readers theorized that the GLI would be lighter than the GTI. VW’s own figures disagree, placing the GLI a few pounds above the four-door GTI and therefore making it heavier than both GTI bodies and the Beetle. (The Golf R is, of course, heaviest of all.) Nor is this shell appreciably stiffer than the GTI. Yes, the GLI is easier to place on the road than the Golfs are, but I would put that down to the intersection of steering geometry, suspension geometry, and wheelbase.

Remember how, in the Beetle test, I complained that the Beetle has the shortest wheelbase and should be the most nimble, but simply isn’t? There’s a reverse effect here at work in the GLI. The steering is lighter than that of the GTI or Beetle, and it’s more willing to be steered. I was faster everywhere in the GLI than I was in the GTI. Some of that was due to increasing familiarity with the road, but at least half of my better pace was because the GLI gives a slightly surer sense of place. It’s not something that I can empirically describe in a road test, but I found myself running a few inches farther out on every corner exit, loading up the steering just a touch more, simply getting more from the GLI than I could from the others.

Driving the manual-transmission Jetta after the DSG model removed my fears that I’d somehow accidentally gotten Puebla’s Best GLI Ever the first time. If anything, the manual car was even more willing to run at the edge of the tire. As with the Golf R, there’s a frustrating refusal to “blip” the revs when heel-and-toeing. I eventually learned to actually use my heel to kick the accelerator almost to the carpet. Problem solved, albeit inelegantly. Were I to buy a GLI, I would pick the manual for simplicity and fun, although the DSG is certainly faster in almost all circumstances.

This is a good car, and although we live in an era of good cars, this one deserves your attention and consideration. As much as I enjoyed the GTI, I simply enjoyed the GLI more. It has nothing to do with the trunk, or the value, or the interior quality, or any of the other canards raised when we discuss the current-generation Jetta. This very subjective test boils to down the fact that, had VW given me time to drive the route yet again, I would have chosen another GLI over another GTI. It’s a greater pleasure to drive, and since driving pleasure is the whole reason to spend the extra money for the red-trim Volkswagens, I think it’s the winner. If that seems contrarian, I apologize. It’s like to think that it’s “forthright”, or perhaps even that most reassuring of words: “truthful”.

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76 Comments on “Volkswagen 2.0T Intramural League, First Place: 2012 Jetta GLI...”


  • avatar
    vbofw

    So the bottom line is VW went downmarket to move more metal, and the strategy is clearly working based on sales data, and is still offering a low volume high end model for the enthusiast to keep a few of them from buying Focii.

    Without seeing the plastics in person it’s tough to judge the interior fully [and fair point Jack on the overjudging of this issue by the VW faithful]. The instrument panel on this thing is really perfect. Nice round gauges for the temp and fuel versus the el-cheapo method of a downmarket electronic readout in the cheap Jetta, Hyundais, etc. And nothing is worse than the Japanese gauge styling. Unlike the Focus, the numbers actually appear readable at a glance.

    This comparo was a great idea. Rid this car of the flat bottom boi racer wheel and for $27k fully loaded [I think fully loaded MSRP is $28] I would certainly consider it.

    • 0 avatar
      RentalCarGuy

      I think that’s brilliant marketing. Lure people into the showroom with the heavily advertised price of entry for the bare-bones stripper collecting cobwebs somewhere in the back, let them sit in the GLI, maybe go on a test drive and enjoy the panicked expression on their faces when they realize that they just bought a car ten grand above their budget.

  • avatar
    PG

    I read somewhere that the exhaust note is much better/louder on the GLI than the GTI. Thoughts?

    • 0 avatar
      itanibro

      I was choosing between the ’11 GTI and GLI. Besides my love for hatchbacks, I found the exhaust note on the GTI to be better. Of course this is a subjective thing, but GTI wins in my mind. The GLI felt porkier overall as well…I tend to disagree with the review.

    • 0 avatar

      I was playing with a GLI rather extensively yesterday. It’s not mine, so we were driving it… enthusiastically. When you really stomp on it, I have to say I like the exhaust tone of the GLI better. It actually pains me to say that, because I do like the GTI better in almost every way, based on absolutely nothing other than my own stubborn refusal to like the Jetta platform as much as the Golf platform, but the GLI is a truly excellent car.

      The GTI has a great exhaust note, and it sounds terrific. But it sounds like a very angry, barely-restrained hot-hatch. Exactly as it should. At RPMs approaching full-throttle, the GLI manages to sound more like the old V8 in the Audi S4. It’s a beautiful, sonorous tone, and it just suits a sedan much better than the hot-hatch sound of the GTI.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Nice car. As far as styling goes, I like the subtle two-tone evolution of the Charleston wheel from the previous generation Fahrenheit GLI. Is the trim around the windows glossy black like the wheels? Don’t like the squinty reverse lights, though.

    A bit disappointed there is no significant power upgrade, but I can see why. The 2.0T spans many vehicles and must be held in check near the bottom of the range here, especially in a light FWD application. Nothing that can’t be fixed with some software, though.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Dang it, although I am not in any need of a new car, I like to keep informed and prepared for the day I do go car shopping again. I really thought I would get a Beetle, now – it’s a GLI, maybe..I’m sooooo confused!

    But, it’s fun to research and almost buy, kind of like catching a big bass and then releaseing him back in the lake.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Should of got the young lady to sit in the drivers seat. If she could sit comfortbly, the VW would certainly pass the “leg room” test.

  • avatar
    jaje

    I think “Jack” has a soft spot for Jack Russell Terriers (Mr. Grizzly Toyota man reading this – nothing to do with the lady in the picture). I think the moral of the story is an enthusiasts car has to be able to communicate its soul with the driver so the driver’s confidence create a whole that is greater than sum of its parts.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    I think I would still take the GTI over this because of the versatility of the hatch. The anonymous styling on the Jetta is also just too boring to live with day after day.

    Does the GLI still have the standard Jetta’s plasti-goop seats?

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      I think that’s my biggest gripe about the new Jetta as well: the styling is just too boring – and the lack of HIDs is a bit of a bummer as well.

    • 0 avatar
      vbofw

      agreed on the zzzzzzzzzzzz styling. on one hand I see similarities to the A4, on the other I see similarities to the 2002 Accord. The front is tarted-up nicely with the honeycomb grill, but the rear continues to be an uber snoozer.

      Veedub is all but begging the buyer to choose a bold color. The red one in the presser should move nicely I imagine.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    The Jetta has been a cute girl’s staple in northern Ohio…and the trend continues. :)

  • avatar
    kkleinwi

    JB dinged the Beetle for “Monster Wheel Syndrome”. Since all of these cars ride on 18’s, why was this only an issue for the Beetle?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Because only the Beetle made it obvious through the controls and dynamic balance of the car. My Boxster has 18″ wheels but it doesn’t continually announce the fact :)

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Is there a car in that first picture?

  • avatar
    7th Frog

    No DSC off button is a deal breaker for me on any car….I’d never make it up the hill to my house in the winter in snow….

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Is there actually no way to turn off the traction control? On my ’08 Saab 9-3, that was buried in the menus for the onboard computer – you would never have found it without reading the manual. Perhaps something similar here? Seems like a wierd omission.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Wow, that’s quite the eagle-eye for Jack to catch a quick glimpse of the girl (while driving at 11/10th no less) and was able to accurately ascertain the girl’s actual attractiveness. If it was me, I probably would find out that the “cute girl” was in fact a 98 years old lady with a walker.

  • avatar
    JJ

    That looks like a good steering wheel.

    Interesting that it wins this test. I guess the longer wheelbase makes it a bit more composed. Unfortunately this spec is not available in Europe (because in Europe, ‘budget’ sedan means old people’s car, they’re hardly sold at all in Northern Europe, somewhat more in Southern Europe for some reason).

    You can get the 2.0T but none of the ‘GTI’ like sporty bits, which basically makes it a blunt cruiser for old people who like to go fast in a straight line. Shame really cause although I too prefer hatchbacks normally I think this looks better than the current Golf MkVI and it would seem you get some practicality and a more composed ride as well so that would make this the one to get…

    Ah well…Luckily there’s still the 1-series hatch.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Sounds like the Focus Titanium is the winner. Since you raved about it, Jack, how does it compare to the winner here, or the GTI?

  • avatar
    brettc

    It’s unfortunate that the rather homely looking woman is blocking the view of the GLI’s front end. Other than the first picture, great review. Always entertaining reading Mr. Baruth’s articles.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    MY personal experience with VW products says that I will downgrade the Jetta to zero points solely for the fact that it is built in the Puebla plant. I have had much better luck with VW/Audi products built in Germany rather than Mexico, YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I currently own three A4 (emm kay eye vee) VWs. One is a 2000 Jetta built in Mexico and bought used in 2004. No really unexpected problems with it even though it’s now 11. Just routine things that I expect to break with age and higher mileage.

      Then there’s the 2003 Jetta built in Mexico. Suffers from random electrical gremlins. Bad coolant temp sensor in 2006, injection pump failed in 2009 (at 111K miles). Driver’s side door switch is bad and waiting for me to take the door apart to replace it. Driver’s side visor light comes on when it’s not supposed to.

      I’ve got a 2002 Golf built in Brazil. Just bought it in June so I don’t have enough time with it to form a great opinion. But so far it seems better than the 2003 Jetta.

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        Some of my anecdotal experiences:

        1990 Fox (Brazil) — 95,000 miles very few problems.
        1998 Passat (Germany) — 45,000 miles with frequent minor issues
        2000 Golf (Brazil) — trouble-free for first year then sold
        2005 Phaeton and 2006 Phaeton (East Germany) — MOTHER OF GOD

      • 0 avatar
        TCragg

        And mine:
        1984 Rabbit, 200,000 km: complete POS, but fun to drive
        1986 Jetta, 600,000 km: replaced half the car
        1989 Jetta, 200,000 km: no major issues.
        1990 Jetta, 400,000 km: lots of problems, but I paid a hundered bucks for it
        1992 Eurovan, 180,000 km: don’t get me started…
        1996 Passat TDI Wagon, 490,000 km: no major issues, sold at 490,000 km with original clutch
        1997 Passat TDI sedan, 170,000 km: great car, nothing went wrong
        1997 Golf TD, 90,000 km: minor injection pump issue
        1997 Jetta TD, 240,000 km: many minor issues
        2001 Cabrio, 75,000 km: great car until it was totalled
        2001 Cabrio, 60,000 km: great car
        2004 Passat 1.8T 4motion wagon, 170,000 km: great car, no major issues (all the faults fixed by previous owner)
        2005 Jetta TDI Wagon, 90,000 km: zero issues
        2006 Jetta TDI Sedan (black), 60,000 km: complete POS, you name it, it went wrong
        2006 Jetta TDI Sedan (blue graphite), 80,000 km: fantastic car, no issues
        2009 Eos, 50,000 km: great car, no issues
        2010 Passat Wagon, 30,000 km: squeaks and rattles, don’t like the DSG, otherwise, OK
        2010 Routan, 40,000 km: eats front brakes, but otherwise really good

        I’ve had a long and mostly positive relationship with VW. Of course, my level of patience is perhaps higher than others’.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        @TCragg: You’re pretty patient. I moved on after 1 ownership experience.

      • 0 avatar
        vento97

        My experiences:

        1975 Mk1 Scirocco – 250,000 miles (hit by tractor-trailer)
        1987 Mk2 Golf GT – 624,000 miles (hit a deer at 55 mph)
        1997 Mk3 Jetta Trek – 355,000 miles (daily driver)
        2003 Mk4 Wolfsburg Jetta 1.8T – 192,000 miles (weekend driver)
        2003 B5 Passat GLS 1.8T – 143,000 miles (wife’s daily driver)

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I know this is probably a dumb question, but when I read the “refuses to blip when heel-toeing” comment I had to ask if this thing suffers from a sizeable deadspot in the throttle due to being drive-by-wire? I first noticed this effect when I bought my current car.

    It’s my first manual and I’m trying to learn how to rev-match downshift, but always get stuck in the deadspot when I’m trying and don’t end up doing anything but downshifting regularly without a rev-match. Like I said I’m trying to learn, but it makes it hard.

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    That was a beautifully written series of reviews, Jack. Instant classic!

  • avatar
    gessvt

    Is the Jack Russell growling at Mr. Toyota Driver off-camera? Maybe he remembered what happened to the last fellow who flirted with his daughter/girlfriend/niece and was trying to warn you.

  • avatar
    TCragg

    “Laughing out like with fear and hope/I’ve got a desperate plan/At the one-lane bridge I leave the Giant stranded at the riverside/Race back to the farm to dream with my uncle at the fireside”

    Great series of articles, Jack. As a VW loyalist (although not blind to their faults) and a Rush fanatic, this series has been very entertaining. Thank-you.

  • avatar
    erikotis

    So Jack, if I were a person needing a new car, with the ability to haul two kids under the age of 4, but still wanted something fun to drive, should I pick the GLI or the Dodge Caravan?

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Jack…you are great.

    Come on…hold a drinking gathering where we can all give you the props you deserve.

    What is funny is MOST, 99%, of all pros have given this car up for dead after the “cheapening” VW did with it to lower its cost and make it an American car.
    One desined for our fatter butts.
    So much for those reviews, right?

    I mean, really, which verdict would YOU go by…Baruth’s or another?

    The question is IF thius will eventually make its way into the Wagon.

  • avatar
    5thbeatle

    Jack- It’s a shame you didn’t bother to lighten the photo of the cute girl so we could enjoy it even more. All of the other photos are of decent quality except for that one…

  • avatar
    carguy

    Nice work Jack – highly entertaining and yet more informative than most.

    If it wasn’t for the dreadful dealer network and the suspect reliability, the GLI would make the ideal daily driver.

  • avatar
    cackalacka

    I’ve got nothing to add save for the fact that I called it (wheelbase/geometry) yesterday, and as a GTI owner, to say thank-you to Mr. Baruth for doing the 2.0T comparison.

    I’d still like to go to a dealer and compare the GLI/R/Beetle, but in the mean time, there are these four articles.

  • avatar

    Hear me now and believe me later: you want a relatively soft suspension in a road car. Suspension absorbs bumps and controls the body. That’s its purpose. Stiff suspension, particularly suspension that is stiff in “jounce”, decreases the car’s ability to stay in contact with the road. The same goes for roll stiffness.

    I think that Chapman’s formula was soft springs and stiff shocks. Chapman era Lotus road cars also rolled a bit too. There are those classic photos of Jim Clark and Graham Hill lifting the inner front wheel going around corners in the Lotus Cortina. One thing that reviewers back then remarked about was that Loti were comfortable cars on the road in addition to their renowned road holding and corning abilities.

    Jim Clark:

    Graham Hill in a Mk II Lotus Cortina.

    • 0 avatar

      The way I heard it was Soft Springs, Stiff Swaybars.

      • 0 avatar

        A quick perusal of Google shows both versions, stiff dampers and stiff swaybars. So we know he liked soft springs. I remember a review of the JPS Europa in Road & Track saying that “a master chassis tuner has been at work” describing the car’s supple ride on the Interstates.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Bless you… I love the soft spring stiff damper/swaybar combination… something that European Fords get right more often than they get wrong.

      Was pissed, actually, when I changed out my suspension and realized I wanted to go back to my stock springs, because I had the aftermarket dampers and swaybars exactly the way I wanted them with the stock springs…

  • avatar
    ajla

    If you already had this review written before the GTI one was posted, then you very successfully predicted that your pick for the winner here would lead some commenters (including me) to accuse you of taking a contrarian view point just for kicks.

    I know that you don’t need my personal approval, but as long as your final paragraph is true, you have it for this comparison test.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      No such luck or skill on my part; I wrote the review this morning.

      However, I *was* aware that this was going to make waves. The superiority of the GTI over the GLI has been true for so long that I went and sat down for about half an hour after driving the first GLI, just trying to determine how legitimate my impressions were.

  • avatar
    George B

    Jack, your picture of the young woman in front of the Jetta helps illustrate a question about 2012 car front fascias and pedestrian safety. What is the purpose of the lower lip that sticks out from the corners of the fascia? Are they there for styling, aerodynamics, or are they sort of a “cow catcher” for pedestrians?

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    well I was wrong in my prediction… looks like the GLI won Jack’s comparo both with and without the DSG. Funny that a softer suspension actually made the difference, but I can understand that, the GTI does seem a bit too firm. Would the order be reversed if the comparo was done on a smooth track??

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Almost certainly. The GTI would be the on-track choice… but tracking these rather expensive cars with heat-sensitive turbo engines and small brakes will always be an exercise in frustration. An SRT-4 would lay waste to them, no problem.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I found that out myself during a “sort of” track (more of a parking lot with cones) event. Still a lot of fun, but after experiencing heat soak and brake fade, along with the fear of breaking the DSG, I decided that my wife’s MR2 would make a better track toy. I just have to get my wife agree… :)

        I wonder if swapping the springs on the GTI with some softer ones would be the hot ticket for street performance?

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    Jack, to what extent did you experience the ESP cutting in on the fun? If driven smoothly, can it be avoided?

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Only when I made a mistake, honestly; usually when exiting a turn with a little too much throttle, or when putting too much steering into the car across a left-right transition.

      • 0 avatar
        tedward

        My concern about no-off ESP systems in a fwd car would have to be focused on snow or dirt use to be really fair. This was hammered home for me on a 40 min. full throttle blizzard run in an SX-4 this winter (late the the in-laws for dinner over deserted upstate NY back roads). I failed to turn ESP all the way off on the way there, and the result was a car that reeked of brake pads for the next 2 days. I basically drove the car there on it’s gears alone, so it wasn’t me generating that level of heat. On the way home I made sure to hold the damn button down for 7 seconds and didn’t generate an additional whiff of burnt pads, despite my near constant adoption of a 20 degree angle.

        If it was a rwd car this would matter year round. No-off ESP had better not become the new industry standard.

  • avatar
    Kevin Jaeger

    Great review, Jack. Every review needs a shot of the car with an eye-catching aspect of the local scenery, and you’ve done a fine job of that, even at personal risk to your well-being. That type of dedication is to be admired.

  • avatar
    slow kills

    So this was a made-to-measure Zegna Trofeo coat?

  • avatar
    kkleinwi

    Maybe the GLI is better to drive, but the styling is just so damned generic and boring it might as well be a Toyota. Maybe it is the white color of Jack’s tester that causes the car to look like a big bar of soap.

  • avatar
    Buckshot

    I stopped reading after this; “the button to disable traction control has disappeared.”

    This is all i need to know.
    Thank you VW. No buy.

    • 0 avatar
      MoppyMop

      It’s odd that VW doesn’t give you a traction control button on the Jetta GLI, even the Golf 2.5 has one. For $5000 more you’d think they could have thrown it in.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      I stopped reading after this; “the button to disable traction control has disappeared.”

      I agree 100%. I live in snow country and the ability to disable traction control is something that isn’t an option. I’ve used the disable button more than once to extricate myself from deep snow.

      The first time I tried it, the effect was really dramatic. I wasn’t have luck in getting myself out of a snow drift with the traction control on, then remembered an item in my owners manual that suggested turning the traction control off in deep snow. I flipped the switch and the car shot out of the drift like it was getting blown out of a cannon.

      • 0 avatar
        cackalacka

        To be fair, the traction control button, when depressed on the GTI, is a fairly symbolic affair. I do believe there are plenty of nanny activity occurring even after pressing it.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        I read on the 2008+ model there is some procedure to go through to turn off the traction control fully, and some additional steps to enable “launch control” as well. I tried it when I first got it, something along the lines of putting it in Sport mode, then depressing the button for a certain number of seconds, etc. It did change the behavior, but I didnt think it was worth the potential risk to the DSG, so I havent used it since. And in Florida I have no need to disable the ESP for snow, so I dont know what it would do. I do know if I turn it off without using sport mode, I get stupendous wheelspin in the rain! No nanny seems to kick in there.

        I always thought that the VW ESP is brake based, not a real limited slip, so wouldnt it have negligible benefits in snow anyway?? Some posters commented on the other 2.0T Intramural League reviews about using a GTI in the snow, maybe they could weigh in?

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        I don’t know about Volkswagen, but with recent Audis pressing the TC/ESP button only disables traction control. It must be held for three seconds (every you time you start the damn car) to disable stability control.

        You need wheelspin (and decent tires) to get anywhere in deep snow. If a vehicle limits your ability to spin the wheels when necessary, you’re not going to do well in winter.

        If you could turn off traction control while leaving stability control on you should be able to do alright if it’s not too sensitive, but you certainly won’t be able to have any fun. Why anyone would need stability control below 60 mph is beyond me. They should have a setting where it only comes on at higher speeds where it’s useful. I would tolerate having stability control on a vehicle I own if that sort of setting were available.

  • avatar
    SimonAlberta

    Jack,

    I fully agree with your comments on the desirability, or otherwise, of a stiff suspension.

    I’ve always believed in RELATIVELY soft springs with RELATIVELY firm damping.

    The idea is that soft springs absorb the bumps and the stiff dampers (they should not be called shock absorbers really because the springs do most of that work) control the body movements.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Fantastic review. I was one of the people predicting a lower CoG would help the GLI, but after reading your review I’d have to admit what you said makes more sense. Length may come into it some, but overall suspension strategy is probably the only way to create a winner among cars with such similar stats.

  • avatar

    Every time I’ve tried identifying myself as “Jonny Lieberman of Motor Trend”, I got pepper-sprayed, beaten with a truncheon and thrown in jail overnight.

    You did better than me, sir.

  • avatar
    Hans B

    The VW website currently has the 115 hp engine listed for the GLI Autobahn.

    http://www.vw.com/en/models/jetta/trims-specs.suffix.html/pageindex=2.html

    “2.0L, 8-valve, SOHC, 4-cylinder engine; 115 hp, 125 lbs/ft of torque”

    I’ve emailed them about it – hopefully they will fix it soon.

  • avatar
    Hans B

    Not only that, that link has “5 speed manual transmission” listed – wrong again VW.


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