Volkswagen calls the Jetta GLI the sedan-i-fied Golf GTI, which is not a statement to be taken lightly. The GTI is a beloved sports compact that beat all others in our $30,000 Cheap Speed Challenge and has continually been at the top of its game (except for that one time). When the GLI was retooled for 2019 to match the GTI’s componentry even closer than before, we had to ask: Can you now get the Jetta’s bigger backseat and large trunk with the GTI’s snappy dynamics? Is the GLI finally that good?
Related: Compare Golf GTI and Jetta GLI Specs
Cars.com reviewer Mike Hanley and I tested the GLI’s and GTI’s acceleration, braking, handling and everyday livability on a mix of closed courses (many cones were sacrificed) and streets to see if the new GLI has GTI levels of goodness. The results may be surprising based only on the numbers: The Jetta GLI out-accelerated and out-braked the GTI. And for just $295 more, it included a significant number of convenience and comfort features the GTI didn’t. Did the GLI just pull off a win?