By on April 17, 2015

VW Jetta GLI front

This is not a GTI. This is not a GTI. This is not a GTI. Cross your tees and line your elles, this is not that darling of the #millennial boot-scoot generation: the My First Big Boy Car Volkswagen GTI.

It’s not a GTI with a trunk, either, despite everything you might think.

Nice Touch Alert: the red line framing the grille extends into the headlights. Clever!

Nice Touch Alert: the red line framing the grille extends into the headlights. Clever!

The GLI certainly makes a good first impression. Split-spoke wheels with just the right-sized tires, too much sidewall, a hint of red from the front grille—there’s a nice touch, Volkswagen, how the red line continues into the headlight housings. Subtle, sophisticated: a very Grown Up Car. Junior pulls into the office park on his first day of his post-college job and he knows his bosses, safely ensconced in their corner offices, are watching. Just to see what kind of young upstart they hired. Let’s get lunch—PF Chang’s? Great. We can take my car!

DSC03813

Nice wheels. Nice new grille. Open the door and imagine four plaid seats, just like the GTI—how cool would that look? Instead, the GLI only receives V-Tex Leatherette, patterned in carbon-look and framed in red piping, for a look resembling Darth Vader’s softball uniform. I appreciate the honesty inherent in a cloth interior, but we have believed for decades that even faux leather looks expensive. Even when this doesn’t.

DSC03818

Darth Vader’s softball team would be called “The Empire Strikes Out.”

And yet, the illusion is over by that first turn out of the parking lot. Because that exhaust note is the GLI’s most characterful asset, carrying an unmistakable presence: it growls and rips and sounds edgy, exuberant. Coupled with the turbo pssht! when shifting through the DSG transmission, and it’s the GLI again with the first impressions, especially the impression that there’s a serious performance car lurking underneath all that sophistication.

Even when there isn’t.

VW Jetta GLI rear

Angeles Crest Highway looks pretty good in the mornings.

The GLI shares its 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged engine with its hatchbacked brother, producing 210 horsepower, with the full brunt of its 207 lb-ft of torque ready to go at a mere 1,700 RPM. Below that, it positively bogs when coming off a stop. Then it’s wait, wait, wait, hold on, whoosh!

It sounds best in second gear. Of course, Angeles Crest Highway, where these photos were taken, is a third gear kind of road…and once you lift off the throttle, anywhere below 4,000 RPM, the GLI is as quiet as ever. The dual-clutch DSG snaps off shifts with near-imperceptible quickness, fast as ever. Volkswagen claims “upgraded brakes” on the GLI, but at least the calipers are painted red. They work powerfully.

VW Jetta GLI wheels

Red calipers add BRAKE horsepower. Get it?

And here’s the shocker of the century: the whole chassis tends toward understeer. The XDS Cross Differential is an electronic system, available across the Golf lineup, and applies the brakes to inside wheels—VW-speak for torque vectoring, and without it the GLI might feel even sloppier. But as it stands now, it lacks precision. The ride is relatively well composed, with little body roll, but there’s a lot of road noise. The steering is weighty, not as sharp, not particularly involving— not much to feel, no resistance to bear, heavy as hell at a crawl, but numb and inconsistent when on the move. Compare this to the GTI, whose steering is consistent at any speed—probably why it feels so gratifying as a result.

At least you can get it with a manual. The esteemed Mr. Kreindler and I both recommended that you do.

DSC03820

Our Jetta GLI SEL rang in a hair over $30,000, reigning at the top of the Jetta food chain. And yet, it still comes with the built-to-cost sensibility the motoring world griped when it came out: harsh door panels, hard-knock plastics, a bouncy trunklid, a tiny screen the size of a pack of Orbit.

But for the same price, there’s a four-door GTI. And that’s the full package: the MQB platform is new, the interior is new, the touchscreen is new, the suspension is newer, certainly. I think this is what sums it up about the GLI: go to Volkswagen’s website and look at their models. Go past the lease deals on a stripper Jetta or Passat (with manuals!). Look past the Beetle, the Eos (they still make those?), the Golf. Take a look: the GTI is its own standalone model, now, proof of serious intent from Volkswagen. On some college campuses, the GTI is so popular that your average incoming freshman can walk from one side of campus to another, entirely on the roofs of GTIs, without ever touching ground.

If you’re a sporting gentleman, get that. If you’re practical, get that. If you “drive tastefully,” get that with the plaid seats. Because America’s cheapest sports sedan—the GLI SE starts at $26,920 with a manual—is more cheap than sport.

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73 Comments on “Volkswagen Jetta GLI: Reviewed!...”


  • avatar
    dal20402

    The GTI has always been marketed as a separate model in the US.

    And this review is pretty much restating the obvious: “new car better than old car.”

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I’ve learned to expect a Yahoo Autos! sort of review when I read his stuff. In that regard, this stands up admirably.

      That final picture really highlights the awful shut line mismatches on this car.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        “That final picture really highlights the awful shut line mismatches on this car.”

        Does it ever. The back door looks like it was struck by a Home Depot flat cart loaded with cement bags.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          It may have had the back door replaced or something. Look at picture one!

          But between that, the wheel arches and fender flares interrupted with cut line, shut line of door not aligned with window trim, and that additional lower trim in black trying to reduce heft.

          A mess.

          • 0 avatar
            EAF

            Corey,

            When you critique body lines, well… I don’t have a keen eye so what you point out is often too subtle for it to matter (to me). However, this time I must agree, what a complete mess. Striking!

            I’m not so sure about the manual gearbox recommendation. It felt incredibly notchy to me, to the point where I just could not take my attention off of it. The clutch pedal had a very long travel and was too vague. Just sharing my personal experience on a very small same size of 1.

            Car felt slow as balls too.

            Accord, Camry, Sonata.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ha, why thank you. I’m glad someone gets something out of my critical eye.

            I notice little details all day long, on everything. It’s a constant assault on my mind.

  • avatar
    John R

    You should put “sports sedan” in quotes.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Hasn’t the GTI been marketed as a standalone model in the US since at least the MkV GTI? they had those “Unpimp Your Ride” and “Fast” commercials. All I remember about the MkIV Golf/Jetta is sadness and an ownership experience comparable to being repeatedly pushed down a flight of stairs.

    • 0 avatar

      The Mk.3 Volkswagens were bad enough—no, it’s not just because that’s when they decided to start making most of them in Mexico—but the Mk.4s were absolutely horrid, yes. Volkswagen Group must have alienated a wide swath of the population with the entirety of its early-aughts lineup of cars, all of which seem to have been designed to disintegrate into a pile of melted soft-touch plastics and expensive German parts.

      Though I’m not expecting a Honda Accord experience, I’m pretty confident that my Mk.5/6 Volkswagen won’t be a complete disaster of an ownership experience. But we shall see…

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I still think the MkIV VWs were great looking cars.

      • 0 avatar
        krayzie

        Actually not much has changed since then, at least with the Mk3 and Mk4 there weren’t as much decontenting. With Mk5 and Mk6 you gotta at least deal with the crappy front subframe of the PQ35 chassis and the cam follower on the BPY 2.0T.

        I wonder if they have fixed the blown IHI turbo issue with the latest 2.0T engines on the Mk7. I honestly don’t think MQB is a higher quality chassis than VW would rather have you believe with all the hype.

        I wouldn’t go with the stick shift option either, the clutch pedal travel and shifter throw are ridiculously long. I had a DSG and it was very good when it worked properly.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The front subframe bolts on MKVs were woefully inadequate. I replaced those and the bushings on a GTI and GLI. The Passat bolts were the replacements. That got rid of the dredded “suspension clunk”, but I’m sure it was a symptom of the problem rather than the actual problem. Good riddance to scary out of warranty VWs.

        • 0 avatar
          JD23

          I wouldn’t count on the updated 2.0T being reliable; each new generation of this engine seems to remedy the maladies of the previous generation but introduce just as many new ones.

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      For the MkVII in North America, the GTI is once again called the “Golf GTI” by VW.

      Link: http://www.vw.com/models/golf-gti/

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The GTI has been marketed as a separate model here since the day it was introduced.

      • 0 avatar
        KevinC

        Not exactly. I owned a new one from Mk1 thru Mk4. The original ’83 was the “Rabbit GTI”. The Mk2 in ’85 was the first to be just “GTI”. That year it was Motor Trend’s domestic COTY, due to its Pennsylvania origins. Back then they had separate winners for domestic & import. Also the current car is again a “Golf GTI” in the uSA.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I can’t say that I agree with the review. One part of it is correct, the GLI isn’t as good as the current GTI. It’s running older components and has the last generation chassis. Also the image thing, this is definitely a good look compared to the GTI or ST in a work or in-law setting.

    As to the rest, first up is that it doesn’t share the GTI’s engine (or the last GTI’s engine actually), it is down by over 50lb/ft of torque, has a smaller turbo and lacks variable valve lift. Next up, what does it compete with? Not the GTI or Focus ST that’s for sure. The GLI shopper is someone who doesn’t like hatchbacks or needs a large backseat and a conventional trunk (probably the first). In that context what is left? A Civic Si, a WRX? I’m sorry but the GLI is comprehensively better than the current Si, which is a real shame as the Si has a history of being the performance C segment sedan leader. The Civic looses on interior size, materials, drivetrain and aesthetics. A trouncing in other words, with its advantages being a true LSD as opposed to the XDS system and probably some curb weight (not nearly enough). It’s obvious that the peformance C segment cars have moved almost entirely to the hatchback body style, which works to my preferences, but leaves sedan shoppers in the lurch. The WRX can give the GLI some serious competition on the other hand, but again, the GLI is doing something completely different here by being FWD, so I’d leave the Si as it’s real bogey.

    Understeer…yes, it is a FWD sedan with a factory setup. Anyone who doesn’t want to feel understeer from a factory sedan of this size will need a rear sway bar and tires, and that applies to FWD, RWD and AWD options. OEM’s don’t stray from that formula until you get to overtly sporty limited edition trim levels, or unless you go really small and buy a B segment hatchback (also in it’s sportiest trim level).

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      “Anyone who doesn’t want to feel understeer from a factory sedan of this size will need a rear sway bar and tires, and that applies to FWD, RWD and AWD options.”

      Not necessarily. My Civic EX has a much more active rear end than my wife’s Rabbit. Nowhere near my Z, but enough to where coming off the throttle mid corner definitely has an appreciable effect. The 1st gen G35X I drove (no sport package- they weren’t available) was downright playful, with a springy rebound and an appetite for kicking its tail out when the ground was wet. My 1st 93 Accord was a lot like my Civic out of the box (no surprise with same wheelbase and weight). Bone stock sedans don’t necessarily have a death sentence and any car will understeer if you push hard enough ;)

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “The WRX can give the GLI some serious competition …”

      From a performance perspective, the GLI is no competition for the WRX. If you’re referring to other areas such as interior space, material quality etc. you very well may be right.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    I currently drive one of these. I’d like to add a few of my own observations:

    -In GLI trim, the Jetta is a sharp looking car in a junior Q-ship sort of way.
    -I have the 17″ wheels on Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3s. The cars with 18″ wheels definitely have more visual presence, but I prefer the improved road noise and comfort of the 17s.
    -The car cruises very nicely at high speeds.
    -It’s a competent dance partner, but does not beg one to drive it hard.
    -The cheap Mk6 Jetta interior door cards really are terrible.
    -In keep with Jetta tradition, the trunk space is enormous. With the Mk6, so is the rear passenger leg room.
    -When mine was new, my friends tended to assume it was much more expensive than it is. Obviously they are not car enthusiasts, but I think they do see it as sort of a baby Audi.
    -I get some satisfaction out of having a German sports sedan without the social stigma of the luxury marques.
    -I’m looking forward to the end of my lease, as it’s just not that much fun to drive and I miss having a hatchback.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “-In GLI trim, the Jetta is a sharp looking car in a junior Q-ship sort of way.”

      LOLLL!

      “-I get some satisfaction out of having a German sports sedan without the social stigma of the luxury marques.”

      A stigma of looking like you have more money?

      “-I’m looking forward to the end of my lease”

      Said every VW owner since 1998.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        I’ve had three BMWs. I enjoy driving a car lacking the douchebag/striver stigma. I don’t feel the need to impress people with how much I spent on my daily driver.

        Exhibit A: https://youtu.be/mAexMc8FL6I

        As for reliability, I haven’t had a single problem during my time with the GLI.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      I don’t think the silver color of the one reviewed here does the car many favors. I own a 2013 Autobahn with the tiny nav screen and tend to use my Garmin (which has traffic data) most of the time. The xenon headlights (which were bundled with the nav in 2013) are outstanding. I like the GTI, but a comparable 2013 GTI would have been a few thousand more, and I didn’t need the hatch.

      I agree that the engine is flat-footed until the turbo spools up. Not nearly as bad as the first-generation 1.8T (haven’t driven the current 1.8T, though). I don’t think the plastic door panels are any worse than the MKIV Jetta/Golf. The only mod I have done is to disconnect the Soundaktor fake engine noise device. The engine is now extremely quiet. I don’t think there is a lot of road noise. The ride is firm but compliant and handling is competent. The factory Dunlop “all season” tires are prone to sidewall bubbles and are dangerous in the snow. Winter tires are in my future.

      I haven’t driven the MKVII GTI, and probably don’t want to, if it’s that much better.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        Despite being one of the older DI 2.0 turbo four-bangers around, this engine is impressively smooth and quiet. That Soundaktor gives a totally wrong aural impression of the engine. Disconnecting it was a good choice.

        I also don’t perceive there to be an excessive amount of road noise. I mean, it’s not Lexus-quiet, but it’s nor is it Honda Fit bad.

        I’d say the engine and the shock tuning are two areas where this car really shines.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “In GLI trim, the Jetta is a sharp looking car in a junior Q-ship sort of way”

      Don’t listen to Corey even though he knows everything. I agree with you. It’s a tasteful, mature looking sedan that will move out far quicker than you’d think it would based on the styling. Equipped with a manual, this is an enjoyable car.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yes very mature, much taste.

        Fake carbon fiber weaved cloth with red piping, and more interrupted bulges than you can count on two hands, and red brakes. And afterthought LEDs.

        Such tastefuls.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I agree about the LEDs, but those are new this year. The rest of it is just you blowing off an opinion without context. Compare the styling of this to a Civic Si or WRX and then get back to me.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The Civic Si is a sport tuned hatch. The WRX is a sport tuned hatch. Neither is a mid-size sedan. Different customers entirely! That is not the correct context.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            The SI is a sport tuned compact sedan. The WRX is a sport tuned compact sedan. The GLI is a sport tuned compact sedan.

            Their states of tune may differ but I see nothing inherently wrong with the comparison.

          • 0 avatar

            The bi-xenon LED headlamps aren’t new. They’ve been on the GLI and the Hybrid since the debut of the Mk.6. It’s just that now you can get them as a premium option on the 1.8T and TDI models as well. I wish Volkswagen would add this option to the Passat, which—apart from the Malibu LS—is the only current mid-sized sedan not to have even projector-beam headlamps.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I think it’s pretty tasteful on the outside, except for those tacky DRLs that VW is starting to stick on everything. Racey enough on the inside to let the driver know he’s pulling a fast one. Pity it’s not a better driver.

      • 0 avatar
        Charlie84

        @30-mile fetch: I generally avoid feeding the trolls.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    Am I the only one who finds it strange to consider buying a $30k “sports sedan” fresh out of college as a normal thing?

    Unless Mom and Dad paid your whole way and you’re hired straight into a six-figure job, it seems to me that the priority should be getting out of any debt and putting some cash away for a rainy day, nest egg, and down payment on an eventual home, instead of spending easily a year’s net salary on a depreciating, potential maintenance time bomb.

    The bosses in the corner office know how little they pay you; the only thing they think when they see you in a new car like this is, “Yup, financed for 84 months.” I doubt it’ll have any positive effect on their inclination to promote you, and when, outside of 20-something-motor-enthusiasts’ fantasies, has a boss ever suggested that they take Junior’s car instead of the exec’s?

    Ironically, an older guy once saw me pull out of the work parking lot in my near-immaculate convertible, and commented the next day, “Wow, so how long before you have that thing paid off?” It seemed to impress him a lot more that I said it was long paid off, than what the car was. He didn’t know or care that the thing was 14 years old at the time.

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for spending your money on things that you’ll enjoy, but in order to do that, you have to have the money to begin with. When Junior gets laid off after six months and complains about how hard it is for his/our generation to pay our bills as he drowns in a sea of debt, I hope someone reminds him that his financial resources would’ve been better directed elsewhere.

    Regarding the car itself: it sounds like it was better back when it was a GTI with a trunk.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Meh, I had a MKV GLI during college. The lease was $269/month. However, I also had a $40K+ job while gong to school. I was fine with the payment because I had the GI Bill, a $450/month apartment, and walked to work. Maybe I could have spent the money on other stuff, but it doesn’t bother me 6-8 years later.

      • 0 avatar
        JuniperBug

        That’s impressive, and like I said, I wouldn’t begrudge someone spending money they have on something they want. Will you agree, though, that that isn’t most people’s experience?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I agree that isn’t most people’s experience. The downside to making money like that while in college is that you can end up in a career field that you hate (like I did), and may have to take a pay cut to get out of it (like I almost had to). My wife’s plan of going to school for something she really wanted to do was probably a better plan. Although, she did have the benefit of a free Ford corporate lease and me paying for some of her school and expenses.

          I do think a GTI or GLI is very attainable to people with certain degrees though. My wife is an occupational therapist, and her first car our of school was a new GTI. I wouldn’t worry about economic downturns and such being an OT, PT, or nurse.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It’s not normal. It’s a hyperbole these reviewers use as an easy example of imaginary college graduates making 100k+ at their first job. Some leftover of the dot com boom or Wall Street movie, that still persists.

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      JuniperBug, I agree with most everything you said. For what it’s worth, even my older Millennial friends generally aren’t buying cars this expensive. In my experience living in a medium-sized city full of relatively well-paid Millennials but without the extensive public transit infrastructure of, say, Chicago or Boston, my peers simply have other financial priorities and interests. The author’s supposition that one buys a car like this to impress a boss or in-laws seems an attitude that is behind the times.

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    I have owned 2 GLI’s, a MkII and a MkV. They were both great cars and had that huge trunk that I needed and wanted. I have nothing against hatches but I prefer sedans. When my son was in college I tried to get him into a 2012 GLI, he went for a GTI instead. He loved it until he found a cherry NSX with his name on it. He works for GM post graduation but cant quite swing an SS just yet.

    I remember TTAC compared the GLI and the GTI a couple of years ago and preferred the GLI, what happened?

    I do like the idea of a junior Q-ship thats fun and relativly inexpensive, the GLI fits that bill, or it used to.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      If this qualifies as “junior Q-ship,” then so does the Camry SE, or any V6 Camry. Are you prepared to make that leap?

      • 0 avatar
        swilliams41

        The V-6 Camry and particularly the last gen SE had good grip and high roll stiffness. Problem you felt no sophistication in the dampning or steering and suspension compliance. All the “magical” things Germans have been doing for years. That’s why a high horsepower, stiffly sprung Camry is not a Q-Ship. Its all about “feel”.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          My definition of Q-ship was not the same as yours.

          It was more like a discrete and luxurious car, which does not loudly display it’s power. Everything rather subliminal. “Quiet luxury,” if you will, usually with some sense of rarity.

          Like the STS-V. Or the Mercedes 500E. Or an S8.

        • 0 avatar
          Charlie84

          swilliams41, as Jack Baruth noted in his review of the GLI, the shock dampening on this car is truly excellent.

          I find the GLI to be plenty quick stock. Flash a Stage 1 tune and you’d have a very quick little sedan that draws no undue attention to itself.

          A subtle appearance, good power, and exemplary high-speed cruising behavior tends to be the basic combination of elements that enthusiasts look for in a Q-ship. It’s interesting how democratized and attainable these characteristics are nowadays.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I agree it’s attainable, but do not agree that the GLI is subtle. Too much badge, too many fiddly details to say “look I’m no base Jetta here.”

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “I remember TTAC compared the GLI and the GTI a couple of years ago and preferred the GLI, what happened?”

      The Mk7 GTI/Golf came out.

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      That particular comparison was Jack Baruth’s comparo between the 2012 Mk6 GLI and Mk6 GTI. I thought he made some interesting points: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/volkswagen-2-0t-intramural-league-first-place-2012-jetta-gli/

      However, for the 2013 edition of his “intramural league” comparison, Jack gave the win to the Mk7 Golf GTI: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/2013-volkswagen-intramural-league-first-place-gti-mk7/

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    As far as I know, the Jetta and Golf cost about the same equally equipped… is it time for VW to “recontent” the Jetta again? Why did they decontent it in the first place?

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They took out content to lower the bottom line price, and get some base model Corolla and Camry, etc. customers. Luring them with the “prestige” of the VW brand – look you can get Euro-chic and quality for the same $15,899 price!

      Except it’s awful.

    • 0 avatar
      JuniperBug

      Because they were going for North American sales volume, where most buyers buy their car by the square foot. They went bigger and lowered the price substantially, whereas in the past Golfs and Jettas were essentially identical from the rear axle forward. In the process, things had to be cheaped out. They left the Golf for buyers who wanted the traditional German car virtues (nice interior, small footprint, sophisticated suspension, expensive).

    • 0 avatar
      Charlie84

      The new MQB platform was introduced to allow VW greater manufacturing flexibility and efficiency. The Mk6 Jetta is based on the aging PQ35 platform, which also underpinned the Mk5 Golf (and a wide array of other VW/Audi/Seat/Skoda/etc products). The Mk5 Golf was famously costly for VW to produce and so the Mk6 Golf came along, still on the PQ35 platform, to improve quality while being simpler to manufacture.

      Basically, MQB allows VW to give you more value for the money. Once the Jetta is switched to MQB, I expect there will be a significant improvement in content and quality.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    This seems like a lot of money for a compact sedan with vinyl seats

  • avatar
    nels0300

    “If you’re a sporting gentleman, get that. If you’re practical, get that. If you “drive tastefully,” get that with the plaid seats. Because America’s cheapest sports sedan”

    GTI more practical? When I was looking at these, a rear facing child seat didn’t fit in the back of the GTI unless the front passenger was really short.

    The GLI just barely fit a rear facing child seat behind my seat, and I’m only 5’11.

    I really like the GLI. When I was shopping for a “family sedan”, I was looking at these and the Accord Sport. I thought the GLI looked awesome and drove awesome. A little smaller than the Accord, but bigger than a Civic, Mazda3, etc. I read everything about these, I was even ready to do the walnut shell blasting every 40K miles because of DI carbon build up. I was THIS close to pulling the trigger, but in the end just couldn’t do the VW thing. I’ve had many Hondas, Mazdas, a few Toyotas, so I was afraid a VW might drive me nuts. I still love these cars, just wish they didn’t have VW/Audi carbon build up problem.

    So it was going to be an Accord Sport, but after driving this car, I didn’t like it as much as all of the reviews did. I found the dash weird looking, lots of road noise, and a noisy engine. The VW engine sounds better IMO. Also, unknown track record for the “earth dreams” engine with direct injection.

    Ended up buying a 14.5 Camry SE V6, which wasn’t even on my radar at all, but Toyota was selling these CHEAP. It has a nasty looking interior, but has the most mechanically solid and proven drivetrain in it’s class IMO. Naturally aspirated, conventional port fuel injection, conventional auto trans. 268 hp, 30 mpg highway, huge back seat, and reliable. Not my first choice, but makes the most sense.

    Still love the GLI though, and am jealous whenever I see one, especially that special edition, edition 30 or something.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      The Mazda3 also has direct injection, starting late in the previous model cycle.

      With Honda and Toyota avoiding DI until very recently, I wonder what their approach is to address carbon build-up.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Toyota’s DS-4 engines have DI and traditional port fuel injection.

        http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2015/01/how-it-works-2016-toyota-tacomas-atkinson-cycle.html

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      You just did a very similar cross-shopping to what I am thinking about in a couple years. I’ll need a four-door non-RWD w/auto (insert sad face) and I’ll want more power than my current 170. Love the way the new GTIs drive, but the turbo & DSG scare me a bit so I’ll be cross-shopping it with V6 midsizers (Camry XSE included) and 3-yo Q50s.

      Interesting to see that your decision landed on the Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        It’s interesting to me too, because I wasn’t even thinking about it.

        Besides the 6 cylinder Legacy which is expensive, slow, and thirsty, the Camry V6 is the only midsizer with the more powerful optional engine that doesn’t have direct injection, doesn’t have VCM, doesn’t have a CVT, and isn’t a Chrysler.

        Although I prefer the way the GLI drives, the Camry SE V6 isn’t bad. The Toyota V6 is the best optional engine in it’s class. Unlike the turbo 4s, it performs like it has more than it’s advertised horsepower and it actually gets good real world fuel economy. Unlike the Accord V6, it doesn’t have any VCM funny business to worry about (google it). Unlike the Altima V6, it doesn’t have a CVT.

        The Accord Sport 6 speed manual would probably be my second choice.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Having never driven this car I really don’t have much opinion on it. I will say VW design has been a huge let down in my opinion for the last few years anyway. I think they make the most generic looking vehicles on the road, this GLI included. That is enough for me to stay away, never mind the other issues…which are substantial.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “too much sidewall”

    In the ultra-polite manner of internet commentary, I will now question your sanity.

    That thing needs about 2″ less wheel, and thus 2″ more sidewall.

    The idea that it has too *much* now is incomprehensible to me.

  • avatar
    sccadaub

    Full dislosure: I’m 23k miles in on a purchased 2014 GLI base with MT, and still love it. They need a low-option GLI (which they no longer offer) as well as the tarted-up one.

    Some people want the Road Runner instead of the GTX, eh? (meaning same big motor/power & suspension without the higher cost & frills)

    I paid $23k and was out the door on mine, which has cloth seats (that look the same as the V-tex vinyl and feel better ALL the time), has the base RCD-510 radio with a bigger screen and reacts faster than that crap RNS-310 postage stamp nav radio with the crap HMI. I don’t want the needless bling of the sunroof, LED DRLs, or 18″ wheels (which would grow corners on my commute).

    So, I’ve got the same great motor, brakes, and suspension as the current one at $2500-$6000 less than the ’15. SOLD!

    It’s all about the timing… In ’14 they added back in the height-adjustable armrest that was deleted in the ’12 & ’13s, and added LED taillights with a more attractive pattern – at the same cost.

    I like the car a lot…but the ’10 Jetta TDI Cup that I traded in felt…just better…more like a cheap Audi, which is a compliment for a VeeDub. This ’14 GLI feels OK until I touch the door cards.

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      My 2013 has the sliding height-adjustable armrest and (I think) LED taillights. I could live without the 18″ wheels on mine, as well as (as I noted above) the crummy nav. I realize I don’t need a sunroof, and don’t use mine that often, but have missed it when I owned cars without it. The DSG is great.

      Pricing on the loaded model is about the same two years later. A shame they don’t offer a “base” model GLI anymore. The only quality issues I have had so far in 27,000 miles are:
      – missing wheel lock key from factory
      – trunk doesn’t want to open all the way, especially in cold weather
      – driver’s Monster Mat has a hole worn in it.

      Dealer service has left a lot to be desired. Will probably only be back for DSG fluid changes after the free 30k service.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    I drive a few of these a week and I feel that my 2007 GT Spec.B was far more refined for about the same amount of money back then.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Can somebody explain why the VWs all have this frustration turbo lag?
    It is wonderfully described in the review.
    This is the very reason I would not touch the GTI.
    Somehow the Ford turbos get more power and there is no lag to drive you nuts at every get go.
    Do not have any other experience with 4 turbos, other than the new Volvos…which also do not have this lag.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    Although I was used manager at a VW for a very strange year (2013) I never actually got to drive a PDI’d GLI… the only ones I did were all in limp transit mode. I drove a few of the previous generation GLIs, though, but they were all pretty bagged trade-ins. They felt way, way faster than the numbers suggested, and were much easier to drive than the SRT4 Caliber I had at the time.

    I’m an ideal candidate for such a vehicle – it’s in my price range, I think they’re good looking cars – but for the same money I can drive a base WRX. The VW wins in interior and ergonomics, but the WRX has more street cred, mildly more exciting exterior, and performance.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    VW needs to get away from the plain 2005 styling and come up with something more modern. There cars always seem a generation behind. When a Hyundai Elantra or a Ford Focus loom ore interesting than a car costing 27K you know you have a problem!


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