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WOLF IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Mon, Jul 3, 2006

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

WOLFSBURG IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING By Harvey Schwartz

The all-new 2006 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is for drivers who seek an everyday practical large compact sedan with a sporty attitude and style, plus the driving dynamics of a autobahn-bred performance sedan, all at a solid VW value. Like all Jettas recently launched, the GLI is the product of a complete redesign and is bigger in every dimension than the old Jetta, including interior occupant space, legroom and trunk volume.

While the GLI is clearly a Jetta sibling, its exterior and interior design features distinguish it as a very performance-minded alternative in the Jetta lineup. New styling incorporates several sporty updates that give the GLI a more aggressive overall presence than any Jetta that has come before. Up front, the new VW signature one-piece grille is accented with a black honeycomb mesh and a red surround strip. HID Xenon headlamps are present along with the GLI badge, round foglamps and air intakes at the sides of the front bumper. The silhouette is highlighted with raked windshield pillars and a matte black lower bodykit, as well as a chrome surround strip around the windows, 17 inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, and red painted brake calipers. The rear features new wraparound lamp clusters, GLI badge, and twin exhaust tips below the bumper. VW says that the sleek GLI cuts through the air with a low 0.33 coefficient of drag.GLI-exclusive interior treatment includes alloy pedals and interior trim, deeply bolstered sport seats, a new three-spoke, leather wrapped sport steering wheel with audio/telephone controls, and shift paddles with the optional DSG automatic transmission.

At the heart of the GLI is VW's new 2.0 turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 200 hp at 5,500 to 6,000 rpm and 207 pound-feet of torque from 1,800 to 4,700 rpm. The transverse, front-mounted engine incorporates DOHC and a fully electronic engine management system that includes drive-by-wire electronic throttle control and FSI direct injection for optimal fuel combustion increasing horsepower, improving efficiency and reducing emissions. With a standard smooth shifting six-speed transmission turning the front wheels, the new GLI accelerates to 60 mph in just 6.7 sec. The GLI is also available with VW's new six-speed DSG automatic transmission with Tiptronic. This direct shift gearbox permits fully automatic or manual gear changes using a twin-clutch, wet-plate design that eliminates the power interruption associated with traditional clutched gear changes. A standard electronic differential lock limits torque steer during hard launch. Top speed is limited to 130 mph. A sport-tuned fully independent suspension enables the GLI to hug the road at speed or when challenging tight corners. Space-saving MacPherson struts are used up front, while the independent rear suspension utilizes a four-link setup with a separate spring/shock absorber arrangement. The power-assisted rack & pinion steering system gave good response to my inputs with a very good feel for the road. Keeping me in control during hard driving maneuvers on slippery surfaces are anti-slip regulation traction control and an electronic stabilization program that works with the electronic throttle and brakes to keep the GLI on your chosen path. I am impressed with the setup. Big 4-wheel steel disc brakes help to quickly slow the GLI down from speed. Braking is enhanced with standard ABS, Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution. The Jetta GLI 's aluminum alloy wheels are wrapped with 225/45R17 inch performance tires. Optional 18X8 inch aluminum alloy wheels and tires are available.

The interior is roomy and very comfortable with fully reclining eight-way manual adjustable sport seats. The instrument cluster features a 180 mph speedometer, 8,000 rpm tachometer and smaller fuel/engine coolant temperature gauges. In the middle of the cluster is a window with readouts for the multi-function trip computer with compass, outside temperature, elapsed time/distance, and fuel usage. All dials, switches, and buttons are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime traveling. Two option packages are available. The first features a power sunroof, and satellite radio with a choice of XM or Sirius service. The second package adds Climatronic dual-zone automatic temperature control, sport bucket leather seats, heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, six-speaker cd stereo with MP3 capabilities, cruise control, power windows, fold-flat front passenger seat, split folding rear seat, power door locks, and remote keyless entry. Standard safety features include front and side airbags for both the driver and the front passenger, side curtain airbags head airbags both front and rear, and daytime running lamps.

The 2006 VW Jetta GLI is an excellent choice for a family sedan with all the modern touches to take care of the many needs that today's families encounter. Whether commuting to work, family shopping, or taking the kids to school, the GLI is a well built and safe vehicle for the occasion. As a bonus, when the moment is right, mom and dad can blast off and challenge their driving skills with a turbocharged engine and sport-tuned suspension with their hands wrapped around a race-inspired three spoke steering wheel. The GLI won't break the bank either, starting at just $23,790.00 for a standard model and just $27,605.00 for the nicely loaded model that I tested. Overall, I am very impressed with the GLI and its build quality, styling, performance, interior comfort and roominess, as well as the heady list of standard equipment.

© All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz SIDEBAR COMMENTS The event is the Motor Press Guild Track Day. The venue is the short, autocross track at Willow Springs Raceway known as The Streets of Willow. The turns are so sharp that it's hard to build up a great deal of speed. Some of the big V8 musclecars are having a difficult time - and two little four-bangers are running circles around the bigger muscle. One is the new Honda Civic Si. The other is the new Volkswagen GLI (the new GTI hadn't been introduced yet). The new Jetta has been taking some hits for looking too much like a Toyota Corolla, but no Corolla ever performed as well as this car. In any event, the GLI receives a striking makeover (blacked out front end with red pinstripe, blacked out rocker panels, and a meaty wheel and tire combination), setting this car apart from its more pedestrian counterparts. Add to that: A great-looking interior, F1-style steering wheel, and the availability of the incomparable DSG transmission - and you end up with one very impressive sport compact car. - Roy Nakano SUMMARY JUDGMENT The sum of the GLI is greater than its parts - and the parts are already pretty darn good to begin with. For more information on Volkswagen products, go to www.vw.com More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS Name of Vehicle: 2006 VW Jetta Sedan GLI Price of vehicle: $27,605.00 (includes destination) Engine type: 2.0 liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged/intercooled, with a cast iron block and aluminum heads Horsepower: 200 bhp at 5,500 rpm Torque: 207 pound-feet at 1,800-4,700 rpm Drive configuration: Front-wheel-drive Transmission type: Six-speed manual or optional DSG six-speed semi-automatic Front suspension: MacPherson struts with lower wishbones, aluminum subframe, tubular anti-roll bar, track stabilizing steering roll radius Rear suspension: Four-link with separate springs/shock absorber arrangement, subframe, and a tubular anti-roll bar Wheels/tires: 7.5X17 inch aluminum alloy wheels with 225/45R17 inch performance tires Brakes: Front: 11.9 inch vented discs with dual-piston calipers Rear: 11.6 inch solid discs with single-piston calipers Power assisted, ABS, EBD, BA and electronic differential lock Overall length: 179.3 inches Overall width: 70.1 inches Overall height: 57.4 inches Curb weight: 3,308 pounds. EPA mileage specs: 24 mpg/city, 32 mpg/highway (six-speed manual) 25 mpg/city, 31 mpg/highway (six-speed automatic)

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