This Is The History Of The Inimitable Volkswagen Jetta GLI

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The GTI with a trunk has always been super cool.

The Volkswagen Jetta is one of the German automaker's most successful models here in America, and the latest one is set to continue that trend. Recently, Volkswagen gave us a little history lesson on the spritely sedan, but as much as we enjoyed it, we were a little disappointed to find that the Jetta GLI, or the GTI version of the Jetta, was hardly mentioned. The reason for that is because Volkswagen wanted to give us a proper rundown on how the sporty Jetta came to be, and now we get to tell you about that and the many decades of the so-called 'GTI with a trunk'.

Volkswagen
Volkswagen

The first Jetta GLI arrived in the US for the 1984 model year following the successful launch of the Golf GTI, or Rabbit GTI as it was known here. Unlike the GTI, the Jetta could be had with four doors and a spacious trunk. Like the GTI, it got a sporty motor, which in its first iteration, was a 1.8-liter engine with 90 horsepower mated to a close-ratio five-speed manual. Upgraded sports suspension was fitted too, and with the first GLI only having been built for one model year, it is now a rare classic. As the Golf evolved, so did the Jetta, and in 1990, the GLI got a 2.0-liter 16-valve engine.

Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen
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Fast forward to 2002 and the GLI got the famous 2.8-liter narrow-angle VR6 engine, while in 2004, a more efficient 1.8-liter 20-valve turbo engine was also offered. In the Mk5 model, the GLI again borrowed from the GTI, gaining its 2.0-liter TSI engine with up to 200 hp. This model also boasted independent rear suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels, both of which are defining features for the GLI version of the Jetta to this day.

The Mk6 version arrived in 2012, again offering bigger wheels, unique bodywork, and a lower ride height. Then in 2020, the Mk7 model debuted at the Chicago Auto Show with its 228 hp and the option of a manual transmission. An electronic LSD on the front wheels was also fitted, as were various luxury features. Now that this model has been refreshed for 2022, the Jetta GLI is more capable than ever. We hope that it sticks around for many more years.

Volkswagen
Volkswagen
Volkswagen

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