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WITH THE NEW JETTA, VW HAS THE LAST LAUGH

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 Thu, Jun 23, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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Saving the best for last: The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

BACK SEAT DRIVING—When Volkswagen introduced the new Jetta, the critics hated it. Yes, it’s lighter, cheaper, gets a bit better gas mileage, and is vastly roomier—particularly in the rear seats. But the pundits missed the superior handling afforded by its up-market four-wheel independent suspension, the soft touch interior pieces, and money spent on things most people didn’t notice, like quadruple-armed articulated truck hinges. Well, the sales figures are in, and it seems consumers are buying the new Jetta in record numbers. Evidently, the average buyer is more concerned about the bottom line than the pricey intangibles that VW pursued. Fret not, enthusiasts. VW hasn’t forgotten you. In fact, it was just saving the best for last: In August, the enthusiast Jetta arrives in the form of the 2012 GLI. Available in three trim levels, the Jetta GLI will have a starting MSRP of $23,495. The GLI Autobahn, with an MSRP of $25,545, adds 18-inch alloy wheels, sunroof, dual zone climate control, heated V-Tex Leatherette seats and the Fender® Premium Audio System. The top of the line Jetta GLI Autobahn with Navigation adds the RNS-315 navigation system and keyless access with push-button start technology for an MSRP of $26,445. And fans, the GLI heralds the return of VW’s track tuned four-way Independent Performance Suspension in the Jetta. The new GLI also features the XDS® cross differential system that debuted on the Volkswagen GTI and helps prevent inside wheel spin during cornering.

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The new Jetta GLI boasts the irrepressible 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine from the GTI, generating 200 horsepower and a full 207 pound-feet of torque at 1,700 rpm. The GLI will be offered with a six speed manual transmission as standard equipment. This new model is significantly lighter than the previous Jetta GLI, notwithstanding the increased room in the cabin. While EPA figures are not yet available, VW expects the Jetta GLI to deliver 31 mpg highway with the manual and 32 mpg highway with the DSG® automatic. Rounding out the list of standard features on the new GLI are a 6.5-inch touch screen premium VIII radio with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, standard one-touch up/down power on all four windows, and standard multifunction display (for vehicle status, trip, radio and navigation information when equipped). The Jetta GLI Autobahn and Autobahn with navigation models come standard with a Fender® Premium Audio System. The Fender® Premium Audio System is embedded in the vehicle design and features proprietary Panasonic® speaker technology. The system covers the cabin with directional sound from front door speakers that the designers say generate imaging beyond the capabilities of traditional speaker designs. Fender says the sound system features lower inter-modulation distortion and smooth mid-range response to eliminate harshness. “It’s harmonically complex, with extended range tweeters and properly voiced 16cm speakers, revealing original instrumentation timbre and harmonic richness and bringing the raw emotion of live music to the driving experience,” says the maker in true PR fashion.

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Outside, the front end of the car is defined by prominent horizontal lines. Below the bumper is a cooling air intake and tray-shaped front spoiler. The slightly more aggressive styling of the Jetta GLI is emphasized by the arches of the wheel wells available with 17-inch or 18-inch alloys. Smoked taillights finish off the rear end, with character lines extending on either side from the fender into the tailgate above the dual exhaust tips. The interior of the Jetta GLI features sport bucket seats with red stitching and a sport flat-bottom steering wheel with red stitching, the GLI logo, aluminum accents, and alloy pedals, shifter, dash and door trim. Both the manual and DSG-fitted GLI controls are designed to allow drivers to enjoy an ergonomically designed gear shift grip. The console is also slightly inclined toward the driver to heighten comfort behind the wheel. The Jetta GLI includes several features designed to enhance driver and passenger safety including electronic stability control, tire pressure monitoring and Volkswagen’s advanced Intelligent Crash Response System, which initiates automatic safety protection in some types of collisions — the electrical supply to the fuel pump is shut off, the doors unlock and the hazard lights switch on. As part of the equipment package, the Jetta GLI also features driver and front passenger airbags, side airbags in front and Side Curtain Protection® airbags in front and rear. Last, but not least, the soft-touch interior pieces return on the GLI version of the Jetta.

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The bottom line: VW is leaving out no one on its market approach with the new Jetta. With the new Jetta GLI, the loyal VW aficionado should be pleased. - Roy Nakano

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