2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
Not Quite a GTI with a Trunk
short: sporty small sedan
2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Review
The sportiest of Jettas uses the GTI’s 2.0 liter turbo 4 and choice of six speed manual or six speed dual-clutch automated transmissions, albeit with different suspension tuning and different settings for the electric power steering. Our tornado red test car, like every 2014 Jetta GLI, came with a 30th anniversary package called, fittingly enough, Edition 30. This adds unique badges on the door sills and black leatherette seats with red contrasting piping. Our car also featured an excellent, easy-to-see navigation/ back up camera screen, leatherette seating, and a sound system employing awesome Fender speakers.
Thanks in part to Volkswagen’s usual finesse with interior details, things like the leather-wrapped steering wheel with its contrasting red stitching and the concentric, well-placed gauges, the Jetta GLI feels distinctly less pedestrian than a standard Jetta. Cost-cutting shows its head, however, in the plastics surrounding the steering column and hand-brake lever, as well as with the fake carbon-fibre trim. It’s a chintzy touch in a nearly $30,000 car.
Powered by a 210 horsepower version of the VW group’s turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0 liter 4, the Jetta GLI always feels substantially quick, with ample thrust from about 1700 rpm to its 6,000 rpm redline. Floor it, even if you’re puttering along just above idle, and speed builds with a satisfying, linear surge. This engine was our favorite thing about the car, and almost worth the price of admission alone, if not for the fact that you can get the exact same motor, for some $3,000 less, in a Volkswagen GTI. Compared to that famed hot-hatch with which the GLI shares its powertrain and most of its name, the sedan felt less sporty, less direct, and less focused, though still playful and fun. We can attribute some of these differences to the tires: whereas the GTI ships with grippy summer rubber, the GLI gets all-seasons, with softer sidewalls and less grip. The Jetta GLI is also about 200 lbs heavier than its hatchback cousin, and its suspension is tuned more for ride comfort, a compromise that shows up in lots of body roll through the corners and dive under braking. To be fair, our GLI did have an excellent ride.
The Jetta GLI is a handsome and comfortable sedan, with good fuel economy and lots of amenities. It just isn’t a sports sedan, despite its brilliant engine and great 6-speed manual transmission. It feels instead like a car aimed toward Americans who for some reason think that a sedan is inherently superior to a hatchback. That said, if you must have four doors and a separate trunk, you could do far worse than the 2014 Jetta GLI.
Warranty/Service: 3 year/36000 mile new vehicle limited warranty, 5 year/60000 mile powertrain warranty, 12 year/unlimited mile corrosion warranty, 3 year/36000 mile roadside assistance
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Base Price: $28,555 / As Tested: $29,675
Front engine, front wheel drive, four door, five passenger sedan
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 with direct injection
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Curb weight: 3,158 lbs
Wheelbase: 104.4 in
Length/Width/Height: 182.2 / 70 / 56.6 in
Turning circle: 38.1 ft
Brakes: 4-wheel disc with ABS
Suspension: F/R: Ind, MacPherson strut, coil spring, anti-roll bar/ multilink, coil spring, anti-roll bar
Traction: Anti-slip regulation, electronic stability control, electronic differential lock
0-60 mph: 6.5 seconds
60-0 mph: 124 ft
Top Speed: n/a
EPA City: 23 mpg
EPA Highway: 33 mpg
Combined MPG: 26 mpg
Seating Capacity: 5
Safety: driver and front passenger front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags,
Likes: Turbo engine, gauges, steering wheel, feature content
Dislikes: clutch and steering too light, soft suspension, plasticky interior.
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