Forbidden fruit: Volkswagen reveals subtly updated GTI-powered Jetta GLI

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

The 169 kW 2.0 TSI engine from the Golf 7.5 GTI continues unchanged.

With two years having passed since its debut at the Chicago International Auto Show, Volkswagen has unveiled a slightly updated version of the Golf GTI-powered Jetta GLI for the United States.

Part of the US Jetta line-up since 1984, the MQB underpinned GLI sits 15 mm closer to the ground than the standard seventh generation and rides as standard on 18-inch alloy wheels in addition to Golf R sourced brakes and red brake calipers, a black honeycomb grille with a GTI-esque red GLI strip, bespoke front and rear bumpers, projector-type LED headlights, extended door sills, a diffuser integrated into the rear bumper, dual chrome exhaust outlets and black as opposed to chrome window surrounds.

For the first time, a choice of two trim levels are offered; the S and the Autobahn with the latter having the added option of a Black Package consisting of gloss black mirror caps, black 18-inch alloys, a black roof and a blacked-out boot spoiler.

Inside, both models get Volkswagen’s MIB software with a 6.5-inch Composition Colour touchscreen infotainment system on the S and the bigger eight-inch MIB3 on the Autobahn. Standard on both is dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, rain sense wipers, heated front seats, Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control, Rear Traffic Alert and ambient lighting with ten colours.

Reserved for the Autobahn is an eight-speaker, 400-watt BeatsAudio sound system, leather as opposed to cloth sport seats with the fronts being ventilated and electric, a ten-inch Active Info Display digital instrument cluster, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Assist and Auto High Beam Assist. A black roofliner, stainless pedals, diamond flag décor inserts and red stitching on the leather multi-function steering wheel, gear lever and armrest rounds the GLI’s changes off.

Fitted with recalibrated electric power steering, a tweaked suspension, the XDS electronic front differential, four driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport and Custom with a Comfort featuring on the Autobahn) and Dynamic Chassis Control to go with the lowered ride height, motivation comes courtesy of an unchanged 2.0 TSI pumping out the same 169kW/350Nm as in the now discontinued Golf 7.5 GTI. A six-speed manual is gearbox with a seven-speed DSG being optional. No performance figures were however released.

Build for North America at the Chattanooga Plant in Tennessee, pricing kicks-off at $26 345 (R397 621) for the manual S before topping out at $27 145 (R409 695) for the Autobahn DSG. Like with previous GLI’s though, and indeed the standard model, the Jetta will continue to be manufactured in left-hand-drive only, meaning it won’t return to the South African market anytime soon.

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