The Truth About Cars » Jetta GLI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 28 May 2015 19:00:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Jetta GLI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Volkswagen Jetta GLI: Reviewed! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volkswagen-jetta-gli-reviewed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volkswagen-jetta-gli-reviewed/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 14:30:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1045378 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. The GLI certainly […]

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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Review: 2013 Acura ILX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/review-2013-acura-ilx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/review-2013-acura-ilx/#comments Tue, 26 Jun 2012 14:31:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450145 Like Lexus and Infiniti, Acura launched with two models, a bespoke flagship sedan and a smaller car based on an existing mainstream model. Unlike the Lexus ES 250 and the Infiniti M30, though, the Acura Integra received rave reviews. The Integra was discontinued for 2002 as part of Acura’s failed upmarket push. The Civic-based Integra […]

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Like Lexus and Infiniti, Acura launched with two models, a bespoke flagship sedan and a smaller car based on an existing mainstream model. Unlike the Lexus ES 250 and the Infiniti M30, though, the Acura Integra received rave reviews. The Integra was discontinued for 2002 as part of Acura’s failed upmarket push. The Civic-based Integra sedan’s slot was sort of filled with the larger, heavier European Accord-based TSX. The 2004 TSX was a good car, but it was no Integra, and the model gained additional inches and pounds with a 2009 redesign. For 2013 Acura returns to its original playbook with a Civic-based four-door model. They’re not yet ready to officially admit the stupidity of going alphanumeric, so the new car is unfortunately appellated the ILX.

Dimensionally, the ILX shares a 105.1-inch wheelbase with the 2004-2008 TSX, but is 4.3 inches shorter, 1.2 inches wider (surprise!), and 1.7 inches lower. Interior dimensions are very similar (including a couple of inches less rear legroom than the compact sedan norm) with the exception of rear headroom, which isn’t quite sufficient for six-foot passengers in the new car. Trunk volume is a passable 12.4 cubic feet with the regular ILX, but only 10.0 cubes with the Hybrid. Most significantly, the ILX is nearly 300 pounds lighter than the original TSX and over 400 pounds lighter than the current one.

Compared to other recent Acura sedans and the latest Honda Civic, the ILX’s exterior styling is a step in the right direction. The exterior’s most distinctive feature, a character line that S-curves up the body side just ahead of the rear fender, recalls the Dodge Avenger, which hasn’t exactly set the world on fire, but the whole is better executed here. Seventeen-inch wheels standard on the 2.4L and available on the 2.0L (but not the Hybrid) help lend the small sedan an athletic stance. Inside, the ILX resembles the TSX and TL, just with a less substantial feel to the doors and seats. Not quite premium, but far, far nicer than a Civic, and thankfully bereft of the Honda’s massive bi-level instrument panel.

The Acura ILX’s powertrain options are…curious. You can get a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter only with a five-speed automatic, a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter (shared with the TSX and Honda Civic Si) only with a six-speed manual, or a 111-horsepower 1.5-liter hybrid only with a CVT that can be manually shifted to mimic a seven-speed transmission. Oddly, premium unleaded is recommended with all three engines, even the Hybrid.

With nearly 3,000 pounds for its 111 horsepower to motivate, the Hybrid with Technology Package is perhaps the most sluggish car with a sticker price over $35,000. Even a Lexus CT feels considerably more energetic. In the EPA tests the hybrid manages 39 MPG city, 38 MPG highway, but you’ll only observe these numbers in the real world with a lethargic driving style much better suited to a Prius (with its much stronger electric motor) than an Acura.

Though the ILX 2.4L pairs nearly twice as much peak horsepower with a nearly identical curb weight, it will satisfy lazy drivers little more than the Hybrid will. Unlike Audi, Buick, and Volkswagen, which offer the most directly comparable cars, Acura continues to avoid turbocharging. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine has little going on south of 4,000 rpm and peaks just 100 rpm shy of a 7,100 rpm redline. Employ the solid, precise shifter typical of the brand to keep the engine on boil, though, and the car entertains. Few fours sound sweeter or feel smoother when revved.

But, spoiled by widely available big sixes and boosted fours, most driving enthusiasts now demand a solid shove at low rpm. If they can live with a not remotely premium interior, they’ll be happier in a Jetta GLI. If they can’t, Audi will soon offer a redesigned A3 as a sedan and Buick will soon offer the Verano with a 250-horspower turbocharged engine.

The ILX 2.4L is geared for performance, not fuel economy, so its EPA ratings are 22 MPG city, 31 highway. The Jetta GLI matches it in the city and manages another two miles-per-gallon on the highway. The 2.0L automatic does a little better, 24/35. Are a few MPG worth giving up 51 horsepower? Acura apparently thought most potential buyers would think so, or they’d have also paired the automatic with the larger four.

The ILX’s steering isn’t as lightning-quick as the TSX’s, while being equally uncommunicative. Nevertheless, the new car feels even lighter than its relatively low curb weight suggests it ought to. A Jetta GLI is only about three inches longer and 150 pounds heavier, but feels considerably larger and more massive. A Buick Verano feels even heavier than the VW, perhaps because it is. The ILX rides much more smoothly than the VW, if still not as smoothly or quietly as the Buick. Partly this is because its suspension simply wasn’t tuned as aggressively as the VW’s. A limited-slip front differential is standard on the Civic Si, but not offered here. But the ILX is also the first Acura to employ “amplitude reactive dampers” that provide limited damping for the first five centimeters of travel then firm up for suspension motions over ten centimeters in a mostly successful bid to pair a comfortable ride with athletic handling. The ILX might not drive like a hardcore sport sedan, but it has a lively yet precisely controllable character that makes it fun when pushed. Imagine a more powerful, more refined, slightly softer Mazda3, and you won’t be far off.

Unfortunately, the Acura ILX is also far more expensive than a mainstream compact like the Mazda3. Though based on the Civic rather than the European Accord, and with a corresponding less substantial feel, the ILX 2.4L is priced $6,920 higher than a Civic Si (about $3,000 of which is due to additional features) and nearly as high as the TSX: $30,095. Is the ILX too dear, or is the TSX a bargain? If you adjust for the ILX’s additional features (including leather upholstery, a power driver seat with memory, proximity key, and xenon headlights) using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, it’s only about $1,300 more than the Jetta GLI with Autobahn Package. But the adjustment is nearly $2,500, and many people might not look beyond the $3,780 MSRP gap. A Technology Package with nav and Elliot Scheiner surround sound audio isn’t available with the 2.4L. Get that package on the Hybrid and the sticker shocks: $35,295. But no more than it does for the Lexus CT 200h, which has a nearly identical base price and is nearly $3,000 more when both cars are loaded up.

While I found the Acura ILX Hybrid sluggish, I enjoyed driving the 2.4L. You can’t get a 200-horspower sedan with a curb weight under 3,000 pounds from any of the Germans, even VW. And while boost can’t be beat for its ability to pair midrange power with fuel efficiency, I continue to prefer the sound and feel of a high-winding, naturally aspirated engine when paired with a well-engineered stick shift. Overall, the ILX doesn’t make a strong statement in how it looks or how it performs, but neither did the Integra. Like the earlier car, the new one possesses the willing responses and light, almost delicate feel that has historically typified Hondas (with a nicer interior then you’ll find in a Honda). This character is increasingly hard to find as virtually the entire industry piles on turbos, gadgetry, sound deadening, and pounds. Ultimately, no one else offers a car like the ILX 2.4L. The main change I’d like to see: a price not so close to that of the TSX.

Suburban Acura of Farmington Hills, MI, provided the ILX 2.4L. They can be reached at (248) 427-5700.

Nick Pechilis at Acura of Memphis provided the ILX Hybrid. He can be reached at (901) 334-5525.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

ILX 2.4L front, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX 2.4L front quarter, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX 2.4L side, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX 2.4L rear quarter, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX 2.4L interior, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX 2.4L instrument panel, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX 2.4L rear seat, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX 2.4L trunk, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX Hybrid trunk, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX 2.4L engine, photo courtesy Michael Karesh ILX Hybrid engine, photo courtesy Michael Karesh

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