VW Brings Jetta GLI Performance Concept to SEMA

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

The Volkswagen Jetta GLI has long been the middle ground in performance for people who wanted a Golf GTI but needed sedan legroom. At this year’s SEMA Show, however, VW is giving the car its due with a motorsport-inspired concept car. Given its stated goal of going electric, it's unlikely we'll ever see this car in production, but it would be a great day for enthusiasts if it did.

Though it’s based on a 2022 Jetta, the GLI Performance Concept is brawnier than the standard car in almost every way. It got a RacingLine turbo performance package, a carbon fiber cold air intake, and a beefed-up intercooler. Those upgrades push the turbocharged 2.0-liter EA88 engine’s output to 350 horsepower and 372 pound-feet of torque. The factory six-speed manual and front-wheel drive setup remain in place, but VW fitted a performance clutch to handle the extra power. 

Stopping and turning are just as important as power and acceleration, and Volkswagen says the concept’s suspension is capable of delivering a thrilling track experience while maintaining a comfortable ride on the street. The car got a RacingLine Stage3+ six-piston forged caliper big brake kit that brings 15-inch carbon ceramic discs. Adjustable coilovers help keep the concept stable on the track, and Rotiform provided a set of custom 20-inch wheels for the project. 

[Images: Volkswagen]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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3 of 9 comments
  • Doug Dye Doug Dye on Nov 02, 2022

    I wish VW would return to their days of lower cost German performance. I have owned many Sciroccos, Corrodes, GTis, and GLis in the past. I switched to BMW's when the company focused more on SUVs. Love BMW's, but they cost much more to maintain!

    • FreedMike FreedMike on Nov 02, 2022

      By contemporary standards, VW performance cars are actually quite affordable - the O.G. GTI from the '80s would go for 26 grand today, and it offered a fraction of the current model's performance.

  • Joe Joe on Nov 02, 2022

    Seriously what’s the point? Not gonna build it. Not particularly appealing. Former superstar nameplate, that’s meh and low demand now.

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