• Volkswagen Gives Us a Sneak Peak At the New Jetta GLI Ahead of its Chicago Auto Show Debut

That’s a fancy looking honeycomb grille you got there

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Volkswagen has finally dropped the long-awaited teaser for the new Jetta GLI ahead of its debut at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show later this week. The model has been in the headlines since November 2017 when the first batch of spy shots of the sedan surfaced on the Internet. Since then, it’s become a game of “when will we see it?” as spy shot after spy shot began providing a clear picture of what we can expect out of the punch Jetta. It looks like Chicago is where the drop’s going to happen, and judging by the teaser gif that Volkswagen USA released in its Twitter account, we can at least expect the Jetta GLI to carry “the body of a sedan,” and the “heart of a GTI.” With the current-generation Jetta still fresh in a lot of people’s minds — it was launched in 2017 — it’s about time the hotter version arrives to kick off 2019.

We’ve been waiting for the Volkswagen Jetta GLI to arrive for so long that it’s debut at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show isn’t filling us with as much excitement as we probably should have. Sure, we’re excited in the general sense to finally see the Jetta GLI, but there’s a mixture of relief thrown in there, too. It’s about time Volkswagen unveiled the Jetta GLI considering that it’s been more than a year since we first saw the initial spy shots of the sedan doing some test runs. It’s been spotted in Germany and the parts of Europe. Heck, it’s even been spotted in Argentina, of all places. None of that matters now, though, because the Jetta GLI is here, and based on the short gif teaser that Volkswagen USA released, we can at least expect it to feature a honeycomb-looking grille, the red GLI badging, and the unmistakable red accent stripe that has become a staple of Volkswagen’s performance-oriented lineup.

The gif teaser doesn’t reveal much else, but the good news is that we can rely on all the past spy shots of the sedan to piece together what we expect to see out of the Jetta GLI. The obvious takeaway is that it’s based on the current-generation Jetta GLI. No surprises there. We saw as much in one of the spy photos where we could see, plain as day, the Jetta GLI sporting the same headlamps as the current-generation Jetta. We’ve also seen the side and rear profiles of the performance sedan, which really reveals anything of importance other than remind me that its shape looks a lot like the Audi A4 and Audi A4, minus the stylistic touches of luxury. One particular design element that stood out was the deep — and I mean deep — shoulder line that stretched from the front headlamps all the way to the rear taillamps. Perhaps it looked deeper because of the line’s shadow, but you probably would’ve noticed it, too, even without the help of daylight.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Interior
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Note: Standard Volkswagen Jetta pictured here.

That same batch of spy photos also revealed the performance sedan’s interior, which doesn’t appear to depart too much from the standard Jetta’s own interior design. The gear shift layout is the same, and the center console, while partially covered by the steering wheel, looks about the same as well. If anything, it’s the steering wheel that looks different, and not just because the Jetta GLI features contrast red stitching on the wheel. Look at the center of the wheel, and you’ll notice that the Jetta GLI features a smaller and rounder center than the bigger and crest-shaped center of the standard Jetta’s steering wheel. It’s a small detail, but since we don’t know all the details about the Jetta GLI at the moment, these small details matter.

Most of the important details that we’ve been clued in aren’t found in the exterior and interior of the Jetta GLI.

We already know that the performance sedan will be powered by the same 2.0-liter TSI turbocharged engine that Volkswagen uses in the Golf GTI.

The power output is pegged at 230 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is decent for a performance sedan of its caliber. The engine will come with a standard six-speed manual transmission, though a DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission will be offered as an option. Outside of the numbers, the new Jetta GLI is also rumored to have the distinction of being the only version of the sedan to carry a multilink suspension in the rear. Why’s this special, you ask? Other Jetta models feature a torsion beam setup. Presumably, the multilink suspension setup will provide the right amount of performance requirements that the sedan needs to live up to its billing.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior
- image 758222

Note: Standard Volkswagen Jetta pictured here.

Judgment on that front is best saved for another time, at least until we get our hands on a Jetta GLI test vehicle. Based on what we’ve seen so far, the new Volkswagen Jetta GLI is what we expected it to be. We’re still expecting a few more surprises to come from Volkswagen’s end, but for now, we can finally take a deep breath, knowing that the sedan that spent most of 2018 wrapped under sheets and sheets of camouflage is about to be unveiled in all its glory at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show.

Does the Volkswagen Jetta have the body of a sedan? Sure it does. Does it have the heart of a GTI? That, like most of the car, remains to be seen.

Further Reading

2019 Volkswagen Jetta Exterior
- image 758222

Read our full review on the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta R-Line by H&R Special Springs Exterior
- image 802311

Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta R-Line by H&R Special Springs.

2017 Volkswagen GLI - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 735269

Read our driven review on the 2017 Volkswagen GLI.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta High Resolution Exterior
- image 548759

Read our full review on the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta.

Source: Volkswagen

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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