Volkswagen's "GTI with a trunk" is now even more impressive.
The Volkswagen Jetta is one of those dependable cars that just does what you expect it to. Give it a touch of GLI flavor and you get the kind of safe fun that makes everyone happy. After all, it's a Golf GTI with a trunk. We've been awaiting the arrival of the latest model for some time now, keeping up with the latest spy shots and inspecting new concepts for clues before the facelifted model arrives. Unveiled yesterday, the new model is all the things we like about the GLI, but Volkswagen has gone all in on tech and luxury to make the GLI a standout rival in a compact performance sedan market that seems to be growing while most sedan sales seem to be shrinking.
The 2022 Jetta GLI gets new front and rear fascias. The former incorporates twin chrome strips across the grille giving the impression of a seamless light bar across the front. Volkswagen's trademark red stripe is incorporated between these two strips, while the lower grille gets the familiar hexagonal mesh treatment and new side air intakes. The rear fascia and its faux diffuser are new too, with wider dual-exit exhaust tips at the end of a Sport AGA system. Looking from above, a standard sunroof is fitted as well. The 18-inch alloy wheels are a new design and can be had in black when you spec the Black Package. This also adds a black roof, mirror caps, and trunk spoiler. New colors will be part of the individualization program, but Volkswagen has not yet said which shades to expect on this specific model, only that there will be five of them.
While VW has given the base Jetta a new engine for the facelift, the GLI soldiers on with the same engine under the hood - which is no bad thing. Instead, you get the ubiquitous EA888 2.0-liter turbo engine from the last GTI, developing a healthy 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Power goes to the front wheels via a VAQ electronic limited-slip differential with XDS. To further improve handling, the rear of the GLI swaps out the regular Jetta's torsion beam rear axle for a multi-link setup, and brakes from the last-generation Mk7 Golf R ensure repeatable stops. The best news on the GLI is that a six-speed manual gearbox remains the default offering, with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic optionally available. Dynamic Chassis Control (VW-speak for adaptive suspension) is standard and ensures that you make the most of every road.
The refreshed cabin of the GLI offers the GTI-inspired upgrades you'd expect, with perforated leather featuring on the seats with a red underlay. You get stainless steel pedal caps, a new steering wheel, and red-accented trim elements too. The driver's seat is a six-way power-adjustable unit, but both chairs in the front row get heating and ventilation. Automatic climate control comes courtesy of VW's Climatronic system. Ahead of the driver, a 10-inch Digital Cockpit Pro information cluster is fitted, while the dash houses the MIB3 infotainment system with wireless App-Connect, a WiFi hotspot, and wireless charging. A BeatsAudio premium sound system also features, as does a 10-color ambient lighting system.
If you're wondering why there is so much stuff included as standard, it's because Volkswagen has done away with the base S trim for the 2022 model year. Only the fully-loaded Autobahn trim is offered now, but that's no bad thing. LED projector headlights boast auto high beams and you get keyless entry as standard. IQ.DRIVE adds even more technology, with forward collision detection and mitigation with pedestrian detection, active blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist, emergency medical assist on automatic models, and Traffic Assist, which offers semi-automated driving assistance. You also get adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go to make bumper-to-bumper traffic easier to live with.
Volkswagen is yet to announce what the Jetta GLI will land at, but we don't expect much of an increase. It's worth noting, however, that 2021's S trim is no longer available, which means you'll be paying around $30,745 or more which was the price of the Autobahn trim for 2021. Competitive pricing will be key to Volkswagen maintaining a foothold in the segment with a new Honda Civic Si Sedan in the works and a new Hyundai Elantra N having just been revealed for the US market sporting 276 hp. VW says deliveries in the US will begin sometime in the fourth quarter of the year.