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2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI storms into Chicago Auto Show with 228 hp

The newest Jetta gets the GTI's engine, brakes and differential.

The Jetta GLI is back and it's more powerful than ever. Volkswagen is using the 2019 Chicago Auto Show to launch its well-known GLI performance variant for the newest Jetta sedan. With the same EA888, 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-four engine as the GTI hatchback, the 2019 GLI packs 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That's a welcome 18 hp and 41 lb-ft gain over the outgoing GLI.

The newest Volkswagen Jetta switched to the MQB modular platform that's shared with the GTI, explaining why the new Jetta GLI finally comes up to equipment parity with its hatchback uncle. That means the GLI now also has the same 13.4-inch diameter front brakes as a GTI, as well as that car's VAQ electronically controlled differential.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

The well-known GLI badge, now with even more horsepower!

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The Jetta GLI's engine will pair with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, while a seven-speed dual clutch will be optional. The dual clutch also comes with engine stop-start tech to save fuel. The sedan sits 0.6 inch lower than a regular Jetta and rolls on 18-inch wheels. Perhaps even more significantly, the GLI gets multilink rear suspension where the quotidian model relies on a torsion-beam setup.

Visual differentiation includes red-painted brake calipers, unique front and rear fascias, that familiar red stripe on the grille, dual chrome exhaust tips, a trunklid spoiler and standard LED head- and taillights. Within the cabin, the Jetta GLI comes standard with push-button start, red accent stitching, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, 10-color ambient lighting and touchscreen infotainment with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Precollision braking and blind-spot monitoring are standard, too. Options include leather seats, a full-digital instrument cluster, remote start, a cooled driver's seat and a 400-watt BeatsAudio system.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

It looks sporty on the inside, too.


The 2019 GLI also launches with a 35th Anniversary model, which adds visual flair in the way of black wheels with a red stripe, black mirror caps, a black spoiler, a black roof and assorted badges. The model also comes standard with adaptive dampers, which adds fifth mode, Comfort, to the GLI's standard Driving Mode Selection settings (Normal, Sport, Eco and Custom).

The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI hits showrooms this spring and, based on what we know so far, we're eager to drive the new performance sedan.

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