50 years of Volkswagen Jetta GLI: what has changed?
For 50 years, the Jetta has proven itself as one of the most trustworthy and beloved Volkswagen models ever created. Especially popular among the North Americans, the Jetta GLI offers enhanced power and performance, as well as cutting-edge safety and utility features.
The Jetta GLI first arrived in the US back in 1984. Following the success oft the Golf GTI, VW team decided to create a similar sporty version of the Jetta. However, unlike the Golf, the Jetta offers four or five doors, as well as spacious trunk, and ample cargo space.
This meant that the GLI's first iteration was able to incorporate tons of cutting-edge technologies. Such included a fuel-injected, 90-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine with revised cylinder heads, lighter pistons and higher compression ratio. It also had a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission and improved sports suspension.
Throughout the years, Jetta GLI evolved even more and in 1990 debuted with the first 16-valve, 2.0-liter engine.
Sometime later, the new millennium brought new improvements to the Jetta. Such include 2.8-liter narrow-angle VR6, and an efficient 1.8-liter turbocharged for even later versions. Then the Mk5 was unveiled – the vehicle featured an agile 2.0-liter TSI turbo engine that generated a total of 200hp and came with an independent rear suspension and exclusive 18-inch alloys.
In 2012, Jetta GLI Mk6 was introduced and offered a fully independent rear suspension and luxurious interior.
In 2020, the current generation of Jetta GLI debuted at the Chicago Auto Show, based on the successful MQB platform, offers the 2.0 liter engine out of the GTI with 228 horsepower and an available manual transmission. These Mk7 GLI models feature a VAQ electronically-controlled, torque-sensing, limited-slip differential which hydraulically varies torque to each front wheel, working in tandem with the XDS electronic differential lock to reduce understeer and limit wheelspin. The seventh-generation Jetta GLI includes a plethora of new interior features including available ten-color customizable ambient lighting, heated front seats, and the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit.
For 2022, a midcycle refresh brings Jetta GLI a ton of changes. The refreshed Jetta GLI keeps the 2.0-liter turbo TSI engine, which now delivers 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and is mated to either the seven-speed DSG automatic or a six-speed manual. The GLI exterior upgrades include a new honeycomb grille and a bumper which encompass the signature GLI red accent lines on either side. The design is rounded out with new 18-inch alloy wheels. GLI interior upgrades refine the sporty appearance of this much-loved model.