The real alternative to the hot hatch
Even though most enthusiasts shopping in the hot sedan/hot hatch market exclusively prefer manual transmissions, the availability of the DSG only adds to the versatility of Volkswagen’s offering.
It’s no secret that Volkswagen products have a very well-known presence in today’s import car scene. At every single car meet I’ve been at, there have been tastefully (and terribly) modified Golfs, Jettas, Corrados, and even Beetles among the endless lines of modified Hondas, Toyotas, and Subarus. My tester of the week is a model for frequenting this scene – a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI in Tornado Red.
I’ve always found German vehicles such as the Jetta to have a strong appeal not only to the young generation, but really to all ages. The simplicity, lines, and very clear homage to years past are all breathtaking. The front grille is very corporate Volkswagen, and as your eyes gaze over the profile to the rear, there really isn’t anything controversial or not to like. For 2014, this model gets a restyled set of taillights, which add to its sharpness. When looking for a car, I prefer something simple and not overly busy. The Jetta GLI is exactly that.
My GLI was generously equipped with all the goodies we now consider standard features in any premium car. Things like Bluetooth audio streaming, HID headlamps, a reverse camera, a sunroof, and leather all-around are all present and easy to use. The multimedia system is paired to a great-sounding Fender Audio sound package, which reproduces high, midrange, and low notes exceptionally well. Bluetooth streaming is seamless and straight-forward, with voice quality being crystal clear. The interior on the GLI is traditional Volkswagen; the dashboard is not unlike the rest of the cars in their lineup. The fit and finish is very well-done and feels surprisingly upscale, with red stitching throughout to indicate that you bought the sportiest model in the Jetta lineup.
This year’s Jetta GLI is powered by Volkswagen’s signature engine, the 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder called the “2.0T”. Connected to a remarkable 6-speed dual-clutch “DSG” transmission, the car is a dream to drive in virtually any situation. The DSG transmission is at the top of its class – it’s easily one of the best transmissions on the market today. The shifts are so bang-on and predictable that although I love my manual gearboxes, transmissions like this might eventually change my outlook on traditional clutch pedals altogether. The GLI, however, doesn’t give you the burbles and fun noises through the gears like it’s sister car, the regular Golf GTI does, but the exhaust note is still quite good. If Volkswagen still sold a GLI with a VR6 engine and performance exhaust, I would be the first in line at the dealership to get my order in.
On a heavy-footed drive through the deserted back roads of Halton Hills, Ontario, I found the super-Jetta’s suspension setup to inspire confidence without showing any signs of giving up. It’s important to note that the GLI’s suspension is about a half-inch lower than the standard Jetta. All through the brilliantly-curvy Britannia Road into Flamborough, the car just kept begging to be pushed further. Steering response is also great, and although the brakes aren’t anything significant, they held up quite nicely.
The ride of the GLI is great, and the space is another plus in my books. The signature corporate engine setup from Volkswagen not only helps instil the fun factor in this sedan – it is all put into a package I found myself falling in love with. With my observed fuel mileage number of 7.5L/100km in combined driving over the course of a week, I did not find myself complaining even once. Being a forced-induction engine, the Jetta GLI does take premium fuel, but it is possible to get the car below 6L/100km on the highway. This hot sedan is as smooth and comfortable on the city streets as it is bounding down the 400-series highways.
With the amount of get-up-and-go it has when it comes to passing power, this could quite possibly be the ideal car for me when it comes to my next purchase. Even though most enthusiasts shopping in the hot sedan/hot hatch market exclusively prefer manual transmissions, the availability of the DSG only adds to the versatility of Volkswagen’s offerings. Those who choose for whatever reason to opt for a two-pedal model would be forced to eliminate competing products such as the Honda Civic Si and the Ford Focus ST. I must conclude saying that although I have never before considered myself in the market for a German car, this one changes my mind completely. The Volkswagen Jetta GLI not only has the great looks but is seriously inspiring to drive.
2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI Gallery