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Roadshow Video Reviews
2012 VW Jetta GLICan the Jetta GLI compete with the Camry and Accord? Brian Cooley gives us his take and check's the tech.
What a stink there was last year when VW decontented the Jetta. The breed down in price to compete better with Camry and Accord. Certain engineering sacrifices had to be made to get there but here's the model that answers all those snide comments about it being a German Accord. This is the Jetta GLI Autobahn. Let's drive it and check the tech. Right off the back, these GLI's get an LCD head unit. You get all excited when you start looking around and there is no button that says Nav. That's because LCD doesn't equal navigation in this car. Part of their pricing strategy to keep Jetta's grounded in their cost. What you have is your AM and FM radio. There's also HD radio on this guy because of this trim level. Satellite radio is serious to give you a 3 months when you buy the car. Media work is interesting. Single CD slot up here on the top. SD card down here. Media In. That's this thing, this MDI multi-interface connector. Right now, we've got an iPod cable on there and then Bluetooth audio is for streaming. You do have base Bluetooth hands-free in Jetta's but I'll tell you this, LCD touchscreen is kind of irrelevant. I don't know for such simple thing especially without navigation if I need a touchscreen. Base output on a GLI is going to be 6 speakers and indiscriminate amplification. We have the Autobahn edition that brings in the equally inscrutable Fender audio, eight speakers plus one sub. I just don't think it's that impressive a system. It's fine but the Fender brand doesn't say accurate sound to most people. It says guitars to most people and the Autobahn edition also includes this power moon-roof up here, dual zone automatic climate control. This very nice faux leather. They call it VTech's kind of like a take on Mercedes' MB Tex. It's a really nice material and you also get 18-inch fancy looking wheels. One large step-up is to get the Navigation trim level which adds navigation. It's kind of a crude system but it's something and it's only 700 bucks for that package. Now the heart of a GLI story is the engine. This is a great one. Two-liter side saddle 4 turbo-charged direct injection. A lot of good stuff going on here, 200 horse power, 207 foot pounds of torque gets this 3,100-pound car to 60 in 6-1/2 seconds. Just fast enough I would say while delivering 22-33 MPG. That powers goes out to one or two gear boxes. Your base is a 6-speed manual. Thank you but you can also get a 6-speed direct shift dual clutch. That's what we've got. Let's go see how that works. First of all, this direct shift gear box is one in better especially considering it's an affordable car but the dual-clutch manuals are all the rage right now. It got paddles here in the wheel, we didn't show you but they're pretty common these days. Response is good. It's not jerky but it's really crisp and tight and I find that the sport mode down here on the gates is also another good choice. It seems to be well programmed. Makes a nice note when you get in it and the power delivery is pretty even for a turbo of small displacement. This is different than the base Jetta which has this kind of torsion beam, rear suspension that's pretty crude stuff. We've got independent rear suspension, multi-link apparatus on this car. It does handle very nicely. Once ina while, I got some kind of rear up and some front wheel hop so I would loose traction but that was pretty infrequent. That said, I think I would still go for the manual gear box or at least drive one seriously if I was gonna buy one of these cars because this just seems elaborate to me. The message around the Jetta is one of pretty straight-forward simplicity and this is a level of translation that I don't need. I'd get my own with a clutch, I think. The last note is where does this car fall between sporty and everyday comfortable. On this GLI, we've hot 18-inch wheels and correspondingly lower profile tires. You'll get quite a bit of tired drum in this car. On the other hand, this generation of Jetta has a much more compliant ride than the outgoing generation which is more fun. So somewhere in the GLI family is the right mix. I might go for a straight GLI and not the Autobahn edition. That with the manual gear box is probably my perfect combo.