2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Preview

Liz Kim | Feb 07, 2019
  • Sixth generation of Jetta’s sporty variant
  • Performance upgrades align with the Golf GTI
  • Distinctive styling identifies it as the sporty one
  • Standard features list is longer than a regular Jetta
  • In dealerships in Spring 2019


Enjoy driving? Volkswagen’s got your back. Even in its base trim, the Jetta is pretty entertaining to pilot, but add the new 2019 Jetta GLI’s bigger turbocharged engine and performance upgrades and you’ve got a guaranteed good time on your hands.

That’s right, sport sedan fans. For 2019, Volkswagen takes its proven formula for transforming the mild-mannered Golf hatchback into the jazzy GTI, and once again applies it to the Jetta sedan to create the grin-inducing GLI. Upgrades on the inside, outside and under the hood take it from a compact economy car to a veritable sport sedan.

Exterior Features

You won’t notice the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI’s lowered stance due to its standard sport suspension unless you have a practiced eye, but the red GLI badges inside and out are pretty hard to miss. Add to that a set of distinctively styled bumpers, a black honeycomb grille, dual exhaust outlets, a rear spoiler, and special 18-inch wheels with red brake calipers peering out from behind the spokes, and you’ve got a subtle stealth fighter for the daily commute.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI photo
2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

There is a 35th Anniversary Edition, too, complete with a black roof, black mirror caps, and a black spoiler. Black wheels feature a red stripe, and this version also gets special badging.

Interior Features

During its first year, the new Jetta GLI comes in standard and Autobahn trim levels, as well as a 35th Anniversary Edition.

The standard Jetta GLI is equipped with black cloth seats with gray piping and red stitched accents around the cabin. Upgrade to the Autobahn trim level for perforated leather upholstery with red accents.

No matter the trim level, heated front seats are standard. Other GLI features include keyless entry with push-button engine starting, automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic climate control and a 10-color cabin lighting scheme that you can alter to match your mood. The 35th Anniversary Edition gets extra badges proclaiming it as such.

Available upgrades include ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a BeatsAudio sound system, a power adjustable driver’s seat, and remote engine starting.

Under the Hood

Lifted from the Golf GTI, a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine propels the Jetta GLI, supplying 228 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. A 6-speed manual transmission is standard, while a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is optional. Both transmissions send power to the front wheels, and drivers can choose between Eco, Normal, Sport, and Custom driving modes.

Unlike the torsion beam rear suspension that underpins the regular Jetta, the GLI rides on a fully independent multilink rear suspension for flatter cornering. Brakes are upgraded to the same type found in the Golf GTI and Golf R, and variable ratio steering is standard. In order to lessen the effects of understeer, a torque sensing limited-slip differential is standard.

Choose the 35th Anniversary Edition, and the car includes a Dynamic Chassis Control suspension with adaptive dampers and an extra “Comfort” driving mode.


Every Jetta GLI includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and an automatic post-collision braking system that brings the car to a stop as soon as is possible after a crash in order to prevent injuries caused by secondary impacts. Expect the GLI to protect occupants in similar fasion to the standard Jetta models.


Every Jetta GLI provides smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink platforms.

A subscription to the available VW Car-Net Security and Service package provides numerous benefits, including automatic collision notification and several functions to help promote safer driving in teenagers. And here’s something special: if you’ve left your sunroof, trunk or doors open while there’s rain in the forecast, you’ll get notification on your smartphone.

Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit instrumentation display technology is also available for the GLI, looking cool and allowing you to customize the information to specific preferences.


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