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2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI (photos)

The most fun current Jetta is the GLI, a zippy little car with a turbocharged engine and a dual-clutch transmission.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg

Wayne Cunningham

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1 of 16 James Martin/CNET
Volkswagen gave the Jetta an overall update for the 2011 model year, creating an affordable and economical sedan. Now, offsetting the overly practical nature of the original line, Volkswagen adds this GLI version, with one of the best engine and transmission combinations on the road today.
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2 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The Jetta GLI uses the same body as the standard Jetta, showing smoothed sheet metal reminiscent of BMW's Chris Bangle years. But the GLI gets some cosmetic touches, such as a honeycomb grille.
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3 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The biggest difference between the GLI and other Jettas is this direct-injection turbocharged 2-liter engine. It makes 200 horsepower, plenty to get this little car moving.
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4 of 16 James Martin/CNET
One big knock against the Jetta GLI is the fact that it is a sedan, and not a hot hatchback like the similarly equipped Volkswagen GTI.
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5 of 16 James Martin/CNET
With the standard Jetta, Volkswagen used some cheaper suspension components, but the GLI gets a full multilink rear suspension along with rear disc brakes.
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6 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The Jetta GLI's trunk is roomy enough, but we would rather have the hatchback GTI.
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7 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The GLI serves as one of the upper trim levels of the Jetta, and therefore gets these leather-covered sport seats.
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8 of 16 James Martin/CNET
Volkswagen forms the right and left of the rear bench into bucket seats, giving some extra comfort to rear-seat passengers.
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9 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The cabin tech Volkswagen makes available for the Jetta, which carries into the GLI version, is all very good but not cutting-edge. For example, the available navigation system does not integrate traffic data.
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10 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The steering is very sharp in the Jetta GLI, but the body tends to sway in the turns.
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11 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The LCD between the gauges shows a variety of vehicle data, or information from the car's stereo and phone system. The driver selects the display with buttons mounted on the steering wheel.
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12 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The six-speed dual-clutch transmission, Volkswagen's Direct Shift Gearbox, uses two computer-controlled clutches to deliver gear changes faster than a human can manage with a clutch pedal.
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13 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The car CNET drove did not include the navigation option, so the touch-screen LCD was reserved for showing stereo information.
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14 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The stereo includes a number of audio sources, such as CD, iPod, Bluetooth audio, and even an SD card slot.
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15 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The music library screen uses the above graphic treatment to show browsable music categories.
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16 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The car's Fender audio system delivers very clear sound, reproducing music with fine detail.
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