On paper, the 2022 VW Jetta GLI sounds like kind of a raw deal.
It's a sport sedan based on the outgoing GTI that commands an MSRP pretty darn close to the brand spankin' new GTI.
It might not sound like the right kind of bargain, but after some time behind the wheel alongside the new GTI and Golf R, I think there's still plenty of room for this sprightly sedan in VW's lineup.
While the Golf GTI and Golf R have moved onto a new turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the 2022 GLI soldiers on with the outgoing GTI's EA288, which produces 228 hp and 258 lb-ft, mated to the buyer's choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The current GLI and outgoing GTI felt pretty darn similar, in part because they used the same inline-4, but there's now a slightly larger gulf between the two following the eighth-gen GTI's introduction.
After tackling a few mountain passes in both cars, I find the modern GTI feeling a little more toned-down and adult, like it's following in the Golf R's business-suit footsteps.
The GLI, by comparison, feels a little more rough and tumble, like it's able to let loose and have a little more fun, thanks in part to more motion in the body.
The GLI's standard adaptive dampers are only available on the highest GTI trim, which takes away everybody's favorite plaid seats and requires thousands more on the price tag.
It's a great setup that adds the right amount of firmness, allowing me to enjoy a stiff ride on curvy roads in Sport mode before throwing it back to Comfort mode for a cushier highway drive home.
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