By on February 22, 2016

2013 Volkswagen GLI, Image: Ian Carder

(Please give a warm welcome to Ian, who has 40,000 miles on his Jetta GLI! — JB)

About three years ago, I was the owner of a 2004 Ford Focus SVT two door and simultaneously the dad of a one-year-old child. Our family car was a 2008 Saturn Vue. One day I got a call from my wife telling me that the Saturn wasn’t shifting into second anymore. Thankfully the Saturn’s powertrain warranty covered what ended up being a clutch pack failure.

Thanks to the factory warranty, at first it seemed like the biggest hassle of the incident was going to be the sketchy tow truck guy who didn’t have a parking brake on his truck and had to resort to using part of a broom handle wedged against the brake pedal and the truck’s bench seat to keep the truck from moving while the Vue was loaded onto the bed. It turns out this wasn’t the biggest hassle. That was reserved for a week of loading my daughter in and out of a rear facing seat on a two door hatchback.


Volkswagen GLI

A week of that routine was enough for me to quickly consider a four door. To be fair, the Focus was getting to the point where some suspension bits needed to be replaced along with some electrical oddities popping up from a 1990s-spec aftermarket alarm installation. It was time to move on.

I starting looking for a four door. The only non-negotiable point: it had to have a manual transmission. I spent hours building cars and reading reviews, agonizing over details like miles per gallon and horsepower. I looked at new cars such as the Honda Civic Si, Subaru WRX, the then-just-released Ford Focus ST, and pre-owned options such as the BMW 328 sedans and Audi A4.

I wasn’t comfortable going down the pre-owned route due to the perceived ongoing maintenance costs on a German car that already had 30,000 miles on the odometer, so I ruled out that option quickly. The Civic Si had its much-maligned 2.4-liter engine that couldn’t rev like the older 2.0-liter mill. The Ford dealers wouldn’t let me test drive the ST, so that was out. The WRX was tough to pin down due to a lack of available local stock. I finally got to drive a hatch; while it was fast and I’m sure lots of fun, I wasn’t a huge fan of the styling or the five-speed gearbox.

While doing some research on the Civic, I ended up coming across a TTAC comparison featuring a 2012 Civic against a 2012 Jetta GLI. I hadn’t even realized the GLI existed! The more I dug into it, the more it seemed like a good fit. We went to the closest VW dealer and took it for a test drive. The sales guy told us to load up the car seat and just take it out. The car seat fit in easily with lots of legroom to spare for the front seats. The trunk was large and could accommodate all the kid support equipment you end up toting around, including a bulky Jeep-branded three-wheel stroller. It was more comfortable than the Focus and got the wife’s approval. We did a deal and, some time after closing, I hit the road in a 2013 GLI, complete with the obligatory box of junk from the traded-in Focus.

Now, 40,000 miles later, I still believe I made the right choice. While the Jetta is down on power compared to its competitors — at just 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque from the 2.0 TSI engine — it has enough for daily driving or spirited jaunts on back roads. My old Focus had 30 less horsepower and 50 less pounds-feet of torque. The smaller turbo keeps the power band broad enough that you’re rarely forced to downshift when the revs drop below 2,500 rpm. Below that you start to notice some turbo lag, but it isn’t much cause for concern during normal driving, such as running errands or driving to work. I have read there’s a lockout for the throttle when the brake is applied, but I haven’t experienced it.

The car has noticeable “rev hang.” I thought the clutch was slipping the first time I experienced it under hard acceleration. The electric assisted steering is light at low speeds and loads up when cornering. You can’t tell a whole lot of what’s happening with the road surface, but the relative numbness isn’t a drawback as a daily driver. The ride is firm but not punishing and only turns into a teeth gritting moment when you hit an unavoidable pothole. Most of that is due to the heavy 19-inch alloy wheels.

The six-speed manual transmission is fairly accurate. I don’t mind the longer throws, but I might be trying out a short throw shifter if I ever make any changes in the future. From inside the car, you get a faked Subaru boxer engine burble-like sound courtesy of VW’s Soundaktor device. There’s always a concern about long-term reliability with Volkswagens; so far, I haven’t had much to be concerned about.

Inside, it turns into a real dad car. Beneath the layer of grime, kid size nine footprints, and Rice Krispies sits lots of easily wipe-able surfaces. There is a healthy amount of hard plastic throughout the interior brought from the lower spec models with a smattering of soft touch materials on the dash and arm rest. The seats are covered in VW’s V-Tex Leatherette, which is a completely synthetic rubber-like leather. I’d love to have real leather, but at this time of my life, I’m better off with the fake stuff.

The entire interior works well as a dad mobile. It’s just nice enough to not hate being in every time I drive it, but fake enough that I can clean it with anything available including our never ending stock of organic baby wipes that we accrued over the years. There’s a squeak from the rear deck and, according to the internet, there’s a fix involving a tennis ball. The sound system by Fender works well enough and doesn’t distort. The steering wheel is a flat bottom unit that feels nice in your hands and adds to the sense of sportiness. It’s a bit unnecessary, sure, but I’m fine with that. The GLI has subtle styling changes over the base and SE models, with a honeycomb grill, trim accents, and a lip spoiler. The Autobahn edition comes with larger 19-inch alloy wheels, which I managed to clip a curb with a week after owning it. The outside is pretty standard Volkswagen Auto Group.

 

Volkswagen GLI

Lots of legroom for for the class. Also, grime.

The Jetta’s infotainment system is pretty basic and does the job, but it’s far from cutting edge. The voice commands work only occasionally. When my phone cannot pair to the car via Bluetooth, it can require shutting the car off and on to get everything back online. Much of this could be updated through software fixes, but unfortunately, manufacturers aren’t going to waste their time bug fixing these problems. They’re happy to send me offers to update the maps for my navigation for over $100, however, so there’s that. The Jetta has the old proprietary MDI device cable with the Apple 30-pin connector end (iPhone 4s and older). The cable itself lives in the glove box and is long enough that you have to bend it to fit a plugged in phone in the glove box. Because of the stiffness of the cable, you will hit the first bump on your journey and the connector will pop out of the phone. I have a newer phone so the cable is useless as is.

Volkswagen GLI

The GLI is not a “sports sedan” but it is a sporty sedan, which makes the daily drive more enjoyable than it would be in many family sedans and mixes in enough practicality and fun in a reasonably priced package. It’s one of the few options if you want a sedan. It’s not hard to find in showrooms, and it should certainly be available at a discount given the platform’s age and recent diesel-related corporate embarrassments. For anyone looking for a family sedan, with a manual and at a reasonable price, you could do far worse — or, at least, far more mundane — than the GLI.

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116 Comments on “Reader Review: 2013 Volkswagen Jetta GLI...”


  • avatar
    VoGo

    Nice review! This is definitely a car I would consider.

    Now I’ll just lean back and wait for all the winners in life to start insulting your manhood because you chose a white car.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      As my brother told me (and I soon learned myself), white cars don’t show swirl marks. White’s a basic, but good colour, and it’s what I got my Sportwagen in.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Once I bought my black Mazda3, and started parking it next to my white Camaro, I realized how liberating white paint is. It’s so much easier to keep clean, whirl-free.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Wait…what? So white is a chick color now? I’ve only owned one white car in my life so far (and I don’t own a white car right now), but I think it’s a great color on a car, especially if the car has black accents. My next car will probably be white.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        See what Vogo did? I’ve never seen anyone here attack white as a wimpy car color, but he managed to project his own insecurities about white cars by suggesting that others share this particular psychosis with him. I’m not proud of the defensive replies from you lot.

        • 0 avatar
          Kevin Jaeger

          Agree. I think Vogo’s the only one to ever bring up the topic that I recall.

          No one should bother defending white as a color choice. It needs no defense.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          CJ,
          Re-read the comments on the BMW 128i review. The words “chick car” to describe a manual transmission, inline 6 BMW. All because of its color.

          Personally, I don’t judge a car by its color.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Paraphrasing Henry Ford, any color as long as it’s black.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            If you want to call out VW16v, call out VW16v. I saw no evidence of anyone else supporting the idea that white cars are chick cars. He really seemed to want to criticize the BMW without knowing enough to do it well. He should buy a couple of BMWs. Then he’d know what’s wrong with them.

            I stand by my position that you shouldn’t have tracked that exchange into this thread. One person expressed an opinion and was roundly criticized for it. Why start acting like that opinion is more widely held? Unless you think there’s something to it…

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I drove a white 1986 Dodge Shadow for many years, which made it possible for my wife and me to pay off our mortgage before we had kids. Terrible car, but seriously cheap to run.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      I like white cars and I can not lie!

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      To me the sweet spot is the Jetta Sport. It’s the cheapest way to get heated seats with leatherette in the segment, plus it has an available manual that you can actually find on lots. You also get the bigger engine and nav with no bundled sunroof. It’s much more mature looking than the Mazda 3 I’m in right now with the addition of a larger back seat and more functional trunk (the Mazda 3 hatch is actually fairly small). I’d throw in the lighting package because once you’ve driven with HIDs at night it’s hard to let them go.

      Specced like that, you they truecar for $19k. That’s a bargain for what it is. The more I look at it, the more attractive a Jetta is to me (even though I always said it’s a teenage girl’s car).

      A comparable Mazda 3 is the S GT, and stickers for $25k with the only real bonus being that you get real leather. A Civic EX-L is 24.5k with no manual option and no real incentives right now. A Corolla S Premium is $24k with no manual option, but comes close to the Jetta in real pricing but with less power and a CVT. A Focus Titanium is the only thing that comes remotely close feature-wise and at a lower price, but with the much maligned powershift transmission, and without the Jetta’s massive back seat.

      I guess I’m really trying to talk myself into a Jetta sport right now. It seems like one of the better deals out there to me.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Nice review on a nice-looking car, from a real owner.

    I’ll bash VW as much as anyone, but it’s refreshing to hear of a good experience. Many more happy miles to you!

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Nice review, nice car.

    When I was in the market, I drove one of these and an Accord Sport.

    The Accord Sport was OK, but I loved the GLI. It just felt solid and drove really nice. I even liked the fake sound thingy, I thought it sounded kind of like an old Audi 5 cylinder.

    In the end I didn’t have the guts to pull the trigger on a VW and ended up with a Camry V6 that doesn’t drive nearly as nice but gives me more piece of mind, but this review has me second guessing!

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I felt the same about the Sport. It’s a nice car and a helluva deal but it’s missing something. The GTI/GLI are nice to drive. Very composed road manners but what surprised me the most (because I thought I’d like it the least) was the WRX.

      Subaru has on its hands a very engaging and fun to drive car. I know people have qualms about the interior but it was perfectly acceptable to me especially when considering the drive-train goodies you get. I also wonder if it’s critics have been in the new interior. It’s a considerable upgrade over the old one.

      Last thing–test drove the new Civic at the local auto show. How is it that Lane Watch is not a feature on every luxury/premium car in the market? It’s a very useful system and dead simple. I don’t even know if Acura get’s it. If they don’t, they should.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Nope. Acuras use traditional blind-spot monitoring. But Lane Watch has an added advantage, which is that it makes it easier to not curb your wheels when parallel parking.

        • 0 avatar

          Which is on K band, unfortunately. Acura probably buys from the same supplier that does the bigger GM SUV. The new MDX is good for a tenth of a mile along with some GMC.

          Only Volvo, with the laser rangefinder, is more of an annoyance.

      • 0 avatar
        nels0300

        As much as I would’ve loved to check out the WRX, I was coming out of a 2013 Impreza with an oil consumption problem. An engine replacement in a new car was unacceptable to me, so I had to get rid of it.

        Although I haven’t heard of the turbo FB motors having this issue, and as good as the WRX seems to be, I just couldn’t reward Subaru with another sale after the issue with my Impreza.

        The issue I had with the Impreza had a lot to do with me being extremely risk-averse and ending up with a Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        omer333

        I have the Accord Sport CVT (because I like blue) and while I like the car, I don’t love it. I should, it rides nice, handles well, I like the color and the interior, but it’s missing something.

        I think it’s partially because I hate the “flappy-paddles shifter”, I actually like sliding the auto-stick over to manually shift an automatic-transmission. I also don’t like how when the car’s in SPORT mode, it hang on to a gear for too long. I try manual shifing using the paddles, and I get annoyed.

  • avatar
    readallover

    I AM F-ING SICK AND TIRED OF THE G-D LIKE TTAC ON FACEBOOK POPUP WHICH REFUSES TO BE XÈD OUT.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Have you liked TTAC on Facebook yet?

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        No, but I loved it on MySpace.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          MySpace is now digital ruins, filled with wall paintings of a long ago civilization.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Myspace was recently sold again to Time in some kind of advertising data mining deal. Interesting stuff.

            ““This acquisition is game changing for us,” Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp said in a statement. “Marketers are selecting media partners that have either data-driven capabilities or premium content; we will be able to deliver both in a single platform.””

            http://fortune.com/2016/02/11/myspace-acquired-time-inc/

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Myspace: where my ex wife exists in her ‘pre-whore’ condition, and one of my brother’s ex gf’s face is still ‘man-made lotion’ fresh rather than getting eaten by worms.

            lol

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            LOL indeed, tresmonos…

            My ex copies pictures my kids put up on Facebook, and then brags about how happy they all are together. And then her 1,221 friends all comment on how special all that is.

            In reality, neither child has spent more than a few hours with her in over a year…by their choice, not mine (honestly, I’d love to have them out of the house for a while and it’d be better for them). I could tell a long story, which involves evictions, getting expelled from college due to nonpayment, getting kicked out of summer camp due to nonpayment, living in hotels and bedrooms, and now felony charges…but suffice it to say you should read up on Borderline Personality Disorder, and if you find a woman with it, run, and then call a lawyer and put a restraining order in place.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            FreedMike, I’m glad you were able to float above that mess. Good on you that you are providing a good life for your kids.

            Drugs and mental health are a hell of a thing. Every year I stay on this earth longer, the more I realize just how intertwined physical and mental health really are.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I just found out that one of my most colorful ex-gfs died six months ago. I was mildly conflicted about it. Then I looked at what her friends said about her passing and who her friends were. Closure.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “but suffice it to say you should read up on Borderline Personality Disorder, and if you find a woman with it, run, and then call a lawyer and put a restraining order in place.”

            or do what I do and just stay single.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            JimZ, or just date a psychologist. Free continuous therapy and whenever I get upset and act unreasonable, she just rationalizes it away!

          • 0 avatar
            RHD

            Time acquiring MySpace is like the Titanic acquiring a pallet-load of anvils.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      This is why i AdBlock TTAC even though as a rule I’m happy to look at ads for sites I like.

    • 0 avatar
      glwillia

      We hated JavaScript popups 15 years ago, and blocked them. Why do all these web-developer trained monkeys think we want lightboxes now?!

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I’ve always liked the GLI (and VWs in general) and your review has done nothing to turn me away.

    Like SCE to AUX said, it’s good to hear a positive story from a company that get’s a good amount of shade thrown its way.

    I wonder when the GLI will switch over to MQB and if VW will use the GTI engine?

    And why isn’t there no Jetta R?

  • avatar
    kkop

    Descriptions like ‘The car seat fit in easily with lots of legroom to spare for the front seats’ are meaningless if you don’t describe how tall you/wife are.

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    supremechippy

    I did almost the same progression. Except my SVT focus was the 5-door, and my GLI is the DCT. I was looking for something with a warranty after a bunch of issues with the Focus, and I wasn’t imoressed with the interior space of the Focus ST. The GLI actually has a usable backseat for adults even with the front seats all the way back, and the trunk is decent sized.

    I like the GLI alot, suprisingly no mechanical issues. The most annoying things have been squeaks and rattles, but I think that has more to do with the horrible roads around DC than anything.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Excellent review. Of note: VW has a MDI-to-Lightning adapter, but they’ll charge you for it. My 2015(!) car came with the 30-pin that no one uses—and it was a brand-new model at the time. I asked the VW salesman to swap it with a Lightning connector from the parts dept., and he did. Of course, the 2016 Volkswagens have the CarPlay radio and actual USB…like everyone else.

    • 0 avatar
      never_follow

      I can’t be the only person that just throws a 120 Gb old brickpod into the glovebox and calls it a day, right? For that usage, the 30 pin is perfect…

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        You win for “brickpod.” There is one of those sitting in the console of my LS460, with audio provided via 3.5mm RCA (in 2008, Lexus was just two years removed from cassette decks and USB was way too futuristic).

    • 0 avatar
      efridge

      Another option is to use an Apple 30 pin to lightning adapter. I used on on my Honda Accord for a few years along with an ancient 30 pin to factory connection. They run $30 to $40 for genuine parts, depending if you want the dongle or just the adapter.

    • 0 avatar

      If you hook a 30 pin to the Lightening adapter it works fine.

      Go online and buy the funky cable-lots cheaper than the dealer.

  • avatar
    rjg

    Nice review. I always check out GLIs when I see them because they’re relatively rare and quite good looking (the subtle upgrades over the standard Jetta really help). I’ve rented base Jettas and have been impressed with the room.

    Sounds like they’ve upgraded their infotainment systems for 2016 so that’s good. My only issue is that VW forces you to get leatherette. Would be nice to have cloth or leather as options like you can on the GTI.

  • avatar
    laserwizard

    Anyone who buys a pre-owned modern VW is an idiot – at best the new VW’s work for 40,000 miles and then the gremlins hatch and suddenly your car is beset with maladies that make driving a 1970’s AMC product seem like a wonderful experience.

    Good luck. You might need to pray for a miracle.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Do you have any data to back up your assertions? I find it hard to believe that an AMC Gremlin magically hatches at the 40K mile mark in every VW. Is there a scintilla of evidence for this, or just your wizardry with the lasers?

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “…or just your wizardry with the lasers?”

        Perhaps a mistake was made in translation from the book of spells, chants, and incantations resulting in our esteemed wizard giving himself a laser lobotomy? It would explain some things.

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        “or just your wizardry with the lasers”

        If he’s not actively one of them I feel sure he knows some of the scrofulous oiks who shine airliner cockpits.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, that post was a nice rant but there’s a nugget of truth in it. I’ve been tempted by lightly used 2015 Golfs – in my opinion the best compact on the market – but man, am I scared to pull the trigger on one.

      Five year note + VW reliability rep = very cold feet.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        Nugget of truth? Perhaps. But if he had taken the time to cite evidence from CR or Lang’s site or Karesh’ True Delta, then we would have learned something, rather than read through another pathetic rant.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I agree. No need to rant against VW when the places you cite show how bad they have been:

          http://longtermqualityindex.com/reports/Volkswagen.html

          Lang’s shows them as the lowest ranked mass market brand that is still for sale in the US and they have the second lowest ratio among mass market brands for vehicles over 180K miles (barely beating Kia). Audi is also looking pretty bad here.

          Truedelta doesn’t have a nice summary page, but lots of frowny red faces when you look at stuff from before 2011 or so.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’m a former VW owner, VoGo. The car never quit on me but a whole list of nickel-and-dime crap happened. Sounds like not much has changed…and the whole diesel fiasco doesn’t make me feel very good about them either.

          If I were in the market for a lease, I might take a chance. But on my single-dad budget, I can afford a lightly used 2014 or 2015 on a four or five year note. Given that, and my experience with VW in the past (plus their shameful diesel scandal), as brilliant as the Golf is – and I think that objectively speaking, it’s the best car in its class – I’ll pass.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            There’s a support group for you now, bball is chairing it this month. I may even have to stop buy, my Audi C3itis is flaring up again…

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            yeah, it’s the same case with my SRT-4. that car never failed to get me where I needed to go, so in that sense it was reliable. But it sure as hell wasn’t “durable.” Thanks to being a Neon, it ate front end parts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the 170,000 miles I had it for, I lost track of how many control arm bushings, wheel bearings, ball joints, half shafts, and sundry other things it needed. The only thing I could really improve on was replacing the OE cheap stamped outer tie rod ends with cast MOOG greasable ones. Nevermind the fact that some idiot decided to spec a cast iron clutch release fork which had to press on hardened steel pads on the throwout bearing, meaning I was more or less compelled to throw away a clutch which was still good at 130,000 miles.

            difference is I won’t lie about the car’s flaws.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Hi, I’m bball40dtw, and I have a Wolfsburg addiction. However, thanks to hard work, loved ones, and The Church of the 3800, I’ve been VW free for over 3 years.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The most recent cars seem a bit better but they’ll have to accumulate a consistent record over a few years before I’d do more than lease one. (And of course their leasing terms are usually crap, so that’s not likely either.)

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      VW SUCKS, AMIRITE?

      Might as well just fill every thread that mentions a VW with the same old crap.

      My wife has a closely related MKV GTI – 156K and counting and very satisfied with it. I suppose the AMC Gremlin will eventually pop out of the hatch but it hasn’t so far.

    • 0 avatar
      CrapBox

      Well, I owned a Pacer in 1978 and now I own a Rabbit. There is no comparison between the two vehicles. The Pacer drove like a tank while the Rabbit is built like a tank.

      Since 2006, I’ve covered about 130,000 miles in the Rabbit and it’s still running strong. I’ve had no major issues.

    • 0 avatar
      broISbest

      I bought it new and put the 40,000 miles on it myself.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      Lazarwizard,
      Holy crap that explains why my VW seems slow I have 3 AMC products behind the seats, as I have 120,000 miles on my Jetta wagon, now I understand only a deranged person such as myself would even dare the fates to own a VW out of warranty and many here are wiser than I but you are one of the few “enlightened” ones who let me know what I would be tormented with. Please with your wisdom pray for me that I should be saved from driving my AMC inflicted VW and allowed to drive what ever your are driving.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Good, informative review. Assuming you don’t keep cars forever, the GLI is a great deal on a compact sedan with some driving fun. But right now its fiercest competition is next to it in the showroom. The current GTI is available in a practical 5-door. It’s lighter, better built, has a newer version of the 2.0T, and has a much better interior.

    The WRX is more expensive and trades interior quality for speed. The Civic Si is gone for the time being (although I think you sold the K24 short; it’s not a VTEC YO revver but it has a wonderful flat torque curve). The Mazda3 2.5 feels good but is down on power in this crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      The WRX interior isn’t as bad as you think. I though I’d be let down by it but it’s very good considering the segment and the other things the WRX gives you.

      Have you sat in the new cars? It’s a considerable difference compared to the previous generation?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        They are much better than the previous generation (I have a ’13 Forester by Fisher Price; I know the suffering!) but the competition has also improved and Subaru remains a couple of steps behind. I’d probably still buy a WRX if I were 23 again, but I’m too old and now care more about build quality and less about hooliganism.

    • 0 avatar
      broISbest

      In 2013 the gap was much closer between the GLI and GTI. It’s much larger now. But if you want a sedan and aren’t scared away from VW, then the GLI is still a reasonable option.

  • avatar
    CincyDavid

    I just HATE pleather seats. Rented a Cruze LTZ in Florida recently, the seat centers were cheap leather, the rest was a stretchy/rubbery vinyl material that just felt awful. In a perfect world I’d have some sort of rugged cloth…even the tweed that my old VW Fox had would be fine. My ass gets sweaty and I really prefer seats that breathe.

    We are actively car-shopping and won’t be looking at VW…I think I got my wife to at least LOOK at something other than Honda for once, we shall see what she chooses.

    I DO like the red stitching on the steering wheel and seats, whatever that’s worth…

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Not all pleather is created equal. The material on the Mazda3 seats seems to be more supple and leather-like.

      But last summer, I drove a red Golf with black “leatherette” seats on a hot day, and my body began to make weird noises when I shifted my weight.

      Honestly, I don’t know why VW doesn’t just put in cloth seats like everyone else.

      • 0 avatar
        pbxtech

        I have a Mazda 6 and I concur.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Honestly, I don’t know why VW doesn’t just put in cloth seats like everyone else.”

        Don’t know how true this is but my opinion is that most people see cloth seats as a downgrade and leather (or in this case faux leather) as a luxury touch.

        I like well put together, quality cloth seats but I wonder how many buyers actually choose cloth when given a choice.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          Which to me is extremely irritating. I hate leather seats. I wish we could still get some *nice* cloth seat options on higher-trim cars. But no, step up from base and you have to take leather (or simulant.)

          f**k’s sake, people, I drive fully clothed (most of the time.) I don’t care how “supple” or “expensive” the leather is on my seats when I can’t even feel it through denim and cotton.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “Honestly, I don’t know why VW doesn’t just put in cloth seats like everyone else”

        I agree. I prefer cloth and haven’t been impressed by recent VW fake leather. Mazda and the Lexus IS demonstrate that it can be done well, but interesting cloth like that neoprene wetsuit-like EcoCloth in the Fusion manages to be distinctive and upscale so I still don’t see the appeal.

        The crappy cloth VW is installing in base Jettas and Passats seems designed to punish buyers for not opting up, so its hard to win unless you get yourself a plaid-seated GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      Featherston

      Count me as someone who’s seating surface-agnostic, so long as it’s well executed. Early ’70s Chevy vinyl? I still have memories of freezing on that in the winter and burning on it in the summer. ’80s BMW herringbone velour? Lovely and comfortable, but 95% of American BMW customers of today would shriek, “Cloth is for peasants!” if presented with it. MB-Tex (at least as I experienced it in the ’70s and ’80s)? Good stuff if somewhat austere; proved not all vinyl is bad. I’ve also experienced a lot of ’80s and ’90s Japan and Detroit cloth that may or may not have been attractive but more often than not was comfortable and durable.

      The cynic in me thinks that many models in the 2010s are sold with unpleasant pleather or cloth in an attempt to guilt you into buying leather that’s not as nice as what we saw a decade or two ago.

      I’m curious about the base seats in the Verano and the Encore: cloth seating surfaces with vinyl bolsters. It’s kind of a throwback to the ’50s and in theory could be well executed. Haven’t seen them in the flesh, though.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Jaeger

        Last time I was in Germany I rented a 3 series wagon that had cloth seats. I would certainly consider a car like that if they offered it here, but I guess they know their customers.

        • 0 avatar
          CincyDavid

          We were in a Nissan dealership last evening, and I was struck by several things…
          1. the beige leather in the Maxima on the showroom was already stained on the lower seat bolster from denim-clad people sliding in and out
          2. the 370z convertible in the showroom had black cloth seats, as did the GTR

          It just confirmed that dark colored cloth is my preferred material. If beige leather looks like crap on the showroom floor, it’ll only get worse with time and wear.

  • avatar
    duncanator

    I bought my 08 Jetta Wolfsburg (2.0T, DSG) back in 2008 a couple of months before my son was born and kept it until last year. I agree that it was a great car the was fun to drive with a small child in back. Also, that trunk was big enough for the stroller and other kid items, but the real pain hit me when I got over 90k in miles.

    I kept up on all the maintenance and took great care of the car, but the last year of me owning it cost me almost 5k in maintenance. After that, I realized that keeping it wasn’t really an option. You won’t have some of the issue I had since you have the manual, but it just got to be a pain to own. Having not learned my lesson, I then bought a 2015 A3. Oh well, it’s fun to drive and should be ok for a few more years.

    Good luck!

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      $5,000 on a Jetta in one year is not “maintenance.” That’s “Fixing what’s breaking and then lying about it.”

      • 0 avatar
        cimarron typeR

        Good on you for buying ,driving, maintaining what you want without the consumer report driven sheep influencing your choices.Repair is maintenance in my book.Stuff happens.You kept your car for 90k miles,the 5000 you spent in the last few years was more than covered by taxes car payment and buyers remorse of trading in a reliable and boring car for another reliable boring car at 55k miles. It always cracks me up to see my neighbors getting a new accord every 3 yrs. Thus depriving themselves of the intrinsic value of those types of cars. They paid a premium for benefits of these types of cars never realized.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Nice choice for a family sedan and commuter. I like the GLI’s conservative and clean looks and it strikes a fully workable balance between practicality and some driving involvement. A family guy choosing between this GLI and the prior GTI in 2013 would have been in a bit of a conundrum. The GTI was quite a bit nicer inside than the GLI and the seats were top-notch comfortable, but car seats fit better in the GLI with front passengers over 6 feet tall and the trunk will swallow more than the GTI’s hatch. The 2.0T and manual transmission are a good combination whichever car is running it.

    I’m looking forward to the inevitable update, because the MSRP on these has gotten stupid expensive in recent years ($28K to start when it was $24K two years and no updates ago) so now it is even harder to justify next to the current GTI. The kids can just deal with a bit less legroom.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Thanks for writing, but as a winner in life I need to tell you that buying a white car basically means you are a giant uterus.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Good review. That 2.0T makes for one fine stealth warrior.

  • avatar
    mishug

    Oye. I hope your GLI experience will be better than mine was. Not to mess with your GLI juju. Bought a MY13 new and had electrical gremlins (fasten seat belt light and chime would go off without warning, engine overheated numerous times, turbo failure, wheel bearing premature failure, a/c evaporator cashed out, and last but not least airbag light would illuminate without warning. Thankfully covered under warranty. Sold it to a young psychologist straight out of grad school and never looked back. Decided for a preowned BMW 128i (2010) with a stick and a 6 and I was as happy as a clam.

  • avatar
    GaryM

    Except for the color (mine is Arctic Frost), I have this exact car and have been very happy with it. Plenty of power, a great shifter, fun to drive, great in the snow with snow tires, very good gas mileage and at 25k, no problems other than the rear deck rattles which tennis balls stuffed into the deck cured. I was concerned about the lack of leather but have found the V-Tex to be quite comfortable and wouldn’t hesitate to get V-Tex again. I might even pick it over leather. I wish VW had made a little more effort softening the hard plastics (the worst thing is the center arm rest that actually hurts my elbow) but then there are a lot of things I wish VW had done differently these days. Given their diesel debacle, sadly, I am not sure I would buy one now.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      Gary M.
      Just curious why would you be gun shy about another VW after diesel gate, ( well during it bc VW moves at a snails pace) it did not effect your car so I am just wondering.

      • 0 avatar
        GaryM

        Seth1065

        Having owned 6 VWs over the last 40 years (in addition to the ’13 GLI, I currently own a 2011 Tiguan), I was deeply disappointed in VW’s deception and would have a hard time rewarding them with another purchase. I also wonder “what else is VW hiding?” Finally, I worry about the long term viability of VW in the US. Sales were already the lowest of the majors. Now what? I guess we wait and see how they ultimately handle this. So far, not so good.

  • avatar
    omer333

    I was about to get a 2013 GLI, but when I was doing the deal on a CPO at the local dealer, around $2000-$3000 in fees got added to the price. I didn’t think taxes and registration would be that much. I walked out while I was in the finance office, I wasn’t liking how the deal was going.

    Shame, though, I liked that car.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Maybe not such a shame now that VW resale prices have gone China Syndrome.

      • 0 avatar
        omer333

        Yeah, when I was about to get the GLI it was about a week or so after the TDI scandal broke.

        I’ve sworn to not buy any car at any dealership that has this strobing third-brake-light device, because that tacks on $500 for an option I did not negotiate for. I’m serious, the VW dealer I walked out of does this and expects you to pay for it, also the financing person kept pushing me to get GAP insurance, lifetime oil changes, paint protection, etc. Meanwhile, I’m sitting there doing the math on what “a great deal I was getting” was turning into an absolute financial nightmare for me, so I excused myself to go to the bathroom, contacted my wife to come get, me came back into the financing office and asked them to tear up the paperwork, I didn’t want the car, sorry I wasted your time. Goodbye.

        For a couple days after that I kept getting calls and emails asking what was wrong. I just replied that I didn’t like the deal, when I wanted to say “Listen, I know you don’t give cars away, but I didn’t feel like getting screwed on this deal when the car was in the $21k-$22k neighbohood, all your fees and taxes got it up to $25k, plus your finance person was trying to get me to spend MORE on the car. You were trying to get me for almost THIRTY GRAND on CPO VW. I can get Hondas new and CPO as good or better than that VW for less than that. I’m dumb, I’m not stupid.”

        So I went to my local Honda dealer and got a lease for an Accord with no money down and no deposit. I think Bark M. would be proud.

  • avatar
    MAGICGTI

    FYI a new Lightning cable is $65ish at the dealer.

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    Ford wouldn’t let you test drive an ST?

    Why not go to another dealer and just pick up the phone and call in advance complaining about this other dealer. The sales guy probably would have swung by your house in the Focus ST LOL.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I don’t think that has ever happened to me, and I was test driving cars in my teens. If it ever did happen, I would have laughed and walked. If they had the nerve to ask why I was leaving, I would say it was because I didn’t want to stick around to see what else they were ridiculous about. I’ve had the opposite problem, where the dopey salesman encourages me to ring out some pristine car with two miles on the odometer. At that point, I usually tell them that I don’t want a car some ape redline shifted with cold oil and no break in, and I wouldn’t buy a car from someone that encourages such mistreatment of engines.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Walk into a dealer and ask to test a Corvette, or a Shelby Mustang. Watch what happens. When I was in the car biz (admittedly 20 years ago) at a Chevy store, any Corvette test drive had to be approved by the GM. Hell, I worked there and they wouldn’t let me drive one (maybe they knew about the Z28 I took out on a lunchtime joyride and almost balled up).

        Makes sense…down the street the Toyota store let two guys loose in a Supra Turbo without a salesman, and the driver ended up wrecking the Supra and killing his friend.

        But a Focus ST? I don’t get that. It takes work to go bad wrong in a FWD compact car. I think it was a sales tactic.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          About two years ago I wandered into the Porsche dealer next door while getting an oil change at the Audi dealership. The salesman saw me looking at a 991 in the showroom and offered to let me test drive anything. I was wearing flipflops and shorts. No wristwatch. When the E36 M3 came out, I was 24 years old. I was picking up a new 325is at the dealer and the salesman tried to talk me into driving the M3, which I didn’t want to do because I thought it was the one car that would ruin my enjoyment of the BMW I was getting. A few weeks later I went to another BMW dealer with two friends in tow. I decided I did want to try an M3. The salesman drove it first, then turned us loose. Admittedly I didn’t buy the car, but that’s the sort of treatment people that buy nice cars expect.

          Actually, I can remember one awful experience now, but it cost the dealer in question a $110K sale. My business partner was turning in a leased car that we’d reliably made $700+ monthly payments on for 39 months. They had an RS7 on the lot. Hell, it was even a CPO or used car. Chances are my buddy wouldn’t have bought it because of the color, but he would have ordered a new one if he liked it. The dealer, which had changed ownership since we’d received good treatment there before, said no RS test drives without a deposit. Brilliant.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          When I bought my Mustangs (2010 and 2012 GTs) the salesman made a copy of my license and tossed me the keys.

          Around me, the only time I hear about dealers being sticklers about test drive is either if you’re a 17-year-old idiot who’s obviously not buying anything, or a Subaru dealer and you ask about a WRX.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The ‘tossing of the keys’ thing, is sadly coming to an end. Criminals have figured out they don’t have to give the car back! And it’s not technically “car theft” (!!!) since the dealer tossed them the keys. Dealer’s have to then repo the dang car! Sad but true.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            It’s still theft, as far as I understand it. The law generally deals with the *intent* of the person. If you let me use your car and I disappear with it, it’s still car theft because it can be assumed I never intended to bring it back. It doesn’t matter that you willingly handed me the keys, because it was (or should have been) made clear that you were not giving me the car to keep.

            (n.b. look up the “Lehto’s Law” podcast; he talks about this very thing. It’s in the one about a joyriding mechanic.)

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It’s no different than borrowing a car and not giving it back in a timely manner. But neither’s a matter for police. Just a bad deal. Not getting payment for a car you sold is a bad deal, just the same. Someone rides for free and someone loses out.

    • 0 avatar
      broISbest

      SomeGuy,

      This happened right when the ST first hit dealer lots, so that probably had something to do with it.

  • avatar
    rkeave

    Interesting timing. I return my leased GLI in 3 weeks, after 4 relatively painless years of ownership. In that time I saw only 1 other Frost Silver specimen, which was nice. The car is quick, but does not give you that seat back push of an accelerating GTI, which was my previous car. I might miss this thing.

  • avatar
    Charlie84

    Look again. Those wheels are 18″ in diameter.

  • avatar
    manny_c44

    I was debating getting the GLI but then decided for the TDI instead (!). There were very good deals on the diesels at the time and I was feeling a bit responsible: if I’m going to buy a new car I need to keep it for at least ten years, I like efficiency and I’m tired of being pulled over all the time: diesel.

    Less than a year later I have the 2.0tfsi in an Audi TT and am considering a big turbo.

    The GLI and GTI are fine but the TT is atleast 300lbs lighter with a much more rigid structure. Lower and wider too, its a nice GT car. Where I live labor is cheap so I thought I’d see if used Audi’s are truly money pits (so far: yes, but I’m not regretting it yet).

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “rev hang” is intentional, for emissions reasons. port injected cars will burp rich if the throttle is allowed to slam closed.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      Yet, it’s annoying. So it should be avoided if possible.

      And not all new cars do it, or at least some are not as bad as others.

      So the manufacturers that send their cars out this way should figure out how to fix it.

  • avatar
    Equinox

    My wife has a 2014 GLI and we love it so far. Driven 20,000 miles and no issues. Definitely a fun car to own and take on long trips.

  • avatar

    You know this car makes an easy 50+ whp with a $500 tune . . . .


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