Like a Golf GTi, but with a trunk.
Unlike the Golf GTI hatchback, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI sedan has never risen to the same level of prominence. The GLI trim for the Jetta, which stands for grand luxury injection, has always been the pseudo equivalent of the GTI trim for the Golf, but VW has never given it the same level of attention. Since 2015, VW has been selling the seventh generation GTI while the aging six generation GLI remained in the lineup as an afterthought.
Now that the seventh generation Jetta has finally arrived for the 2019 model year, a new GLI model should be along imminently. We initially believed the GLI would arrive later this year, but Autoblog has learned it may arrive in early 2019.
Speaking at the launch event for the VW Vento (the Jetta in the South American market), José Carlos Pavone, Head of Design of Volkswagen Brazil said, "I estimate that Vento [Jetta] GLI could be presented in January, during the Detroit Show. The sports version was specifically designed for the tastes of the North American market."
The standard Jetta debuted at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show, so it would make sense for VW to reveal the GLI one year later at the same venue. The GLI has always made sense for the US market because sedans tend so sell better than hatchbacks. If the rumors are any indication, this new GLI may attract a lot of attention from would-be GTI buyers who would simply prefer a trunk to a hatch.
Of course, the GLI will come with visual cues to set it apart from a standard Jetta. Pavone said it will have unique five-spoke wheels, a black roof (due to the panoramic moonroof), bespoke sports seats, and red accents throughout the interior and exterior. Under the hood will sit the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the GTI producing the same 200 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.
Like the GTI, power will be sent to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or an optional seven-speed dual-clutch (one more gear than the current GTI). Hopefully, this rumor turns out to be true so we won't have to wait long to see the new GLI.