VW Jetta just upped its game

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Andrew Muzamhindo..Analyst

The GLI has now been brought to the same spec performance wise as the GTI. The previous generation, the Mk VI GLI was a good car, but it had the misfortune of the GTI coming out in 2015 as an Mk VII on the MQB chassis that did have more power and it had a more rigid chassis and it had a little bit better handling.

And so the performance buyer, the enthusiast, was naturally gravitating more towards the GTI and the GLI was, more or less did not quite measure up in the same performance. And that is not what VW wanted.

VW has now relaunched the GLI as a true performance sports sedan, so think of it like a GTI with a trunk. And so, to that end, it is now on a MQB chassis, same as the normal Jetta, and it shares its engine with the model ‘19 GTI, so it is the same EA88 turbo four-cylinder, two-litre engine, making 228 horsepower. It is a standard engine on all GLIs.

In addition to that, features that were previously in the GTI performance package, like the XDS and the VAQ limited-slip differential, that is now standard equipment on GLI, as well as the Golf R front brakes.

You get better braking, all-up more power, and the limited-slip differential to help with the handling.Therefore on paper, the GLI is on par with the GTI. But if you take both cars to a track, is there anything that is going to stand out as a difference between them and the way they drive other than not having the hatch behind you?

The expectation is that they should be pretty comparable on a racetrack. The GLI, because of its shape as a sedan, especially with the coupe-ish-type sedan, actually has a much better drag coefficient. On a straight-away, depending on what track it is, there could be some difference in favor of GLI.
GLI is also a little heavier.

There could be some difference in acceleration, in favour of GTI, but depending on the track and the driver, we expect it to be pretty close.
Hatch people tend to be hatch people.

What we have not had until now, over the past couple of years, is a sports sedan, because VW knew that there are people who also prefer the shape of a sedan, and they prefer having a real trunk where you can put your luggage if you are going on a road trip. You do not have to worry about a cargo cover. You can lock it away, people cannot see it.

There has been demand for sedans from those people who do not want the additional space or the reduced maneuverability of an SUV, or the reduced fuel mileage, whether it is as a second car, or whether it is at a different stage in life, or as a commuter vehicle they prefer a sedan, and so VW are targeting this segment. It will always be there.

The big thing with those buyers is often times the brand is a key decision factor. But in terms of equipment and value, VW is a leader in this segment.

It comes with standard driver’s assistance, which, up until recently has not really been a thing in the performance sedans, but VW has seen how useful and helpful they are, and how drivers appreciate them and so all GLIs have standard blind spot and Volkswagen’s front assist, which is forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, which, up until recently, had not been common in the segment.

And it is something that the Civic does not offer, for example.The 35th edition comes with the unique styling details such as the black roof, black rear spoiler, unique wheels and the DCC, which is VWs adaptive damping system. That is truly the enthusiast’s choice, and the car that I would personally want to drive.

To the VW enthusiasts they would go for the GTI because of its famed performance and looks. However, when you do our own value analysis to see which features are valued at which price-points, you will actually come up with calculations that show that the GLI offers more equipment for less money than the GTI.
andrew@muzamhindo.com

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