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Is A Volkswagen Jetta R On The Way?

Rumor / Comments

How about a pickup for the US market?

While most automakers revealed heavy duty pickups and off-roading SUVs at the Chicago Auto Show, Volkswagen used the Windy City to debut a compact sport sedan, the new Jetta GLI. The GLI acronym (for Grand Luxury Injection) first appeared on the sixth generation Jetta as a sedan counterpart to the iconic Golf GTI hot hatch. While the sixth generation GLI was outshone by its more famous and capable hatchback sibling, the new version looks to up the ante.

Using the GTI's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot to pump out 228 horsepower and an impressive 258 lb-ft of torque and with front brakes lifted from the Golf R, the GLI should be a strong performer.

Speaking of the Golf R, is a more hardcore Jetta R in the pipeline? Motor Trend spoke with Derrick Hatami, Volkswagen of America's vice president of sales and marketing, and while he wouldn't give a definitive yes, his answer was promising. "Never say never," he replied, while also stressing that the Jetta plays a key role in VW's performance range. Despite the GLI accounting for a mere five percent of overall Jetta sales, Hatami insisted that it is crucial to VW's DNA and he believes that the GLI has more sales potential than the smaller GTI.

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Motor Trend also enquired about some other upcoming VW products. Hatami confirmed that the electric Microbus revival is coming in a few years, but dashed hopes of a new lease on life for the Beetle as an EV, at least for the immediate future. A compact crossover slotting below the Tiguan will arrive in 2021, while a pickup for the US market is still up in the air. Ford is developing the next version of the Amarok on its Ranger platform, but this will remain forbidden fruit.

Meanwhile, the Tanoak concept, a unibody pickup based on the Atlas to rival the likes of the Honda Ridgeline, has progressed to the feasibility study phase. However, getting the price of the $30,000 Atlas down to around $20,000 for the Tanoak might prove to be too big of a hurdle. Only time will tell.