By Cars.com EditorsDecember 12, 2011
About the video
Cars.com's Mike Hanley takes a look at the 2012 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
<v Announcer>Cars.com auto review. Hi, I'm Mike Hanley with cars.com. The Volkswagen Jetta was positioned as a more affordable model when it was recently redesigned. But with the 2012 GLI, that's just debuted, this is the premium sporty alternative.
It's also pricier to the tune of about $8,000 more than a base Jetta. Let's take a look if those changes really add up to that significant price gap. One of the things that the GLI gives you is a pretty distinct look from the base Jetta, and you can see it with the GTI style black mesh grill, and also this big lower opening that's finished off with a pretty pronounced lower lip spoiler that you're going to have to be careful if you're pulling up to a high curb, So you don't scuff it. Also available are 18 inch alloy wheels with black pockets. And overall, the look is pretty distinct from the regular Jetta. One of the performance aspects of the GLI is it's 200 horsepower turbocharged, two liter four cylinder engine. And it teams with either a six speed manual, or a six speed dual clutch automatic, which is what we have in our test car. Now, the engine offers a lot of low end power. It's pretty responsive, but the automatic is a little bit unwilling to downshift, relying too much on the engines torque. So I'd liked the checkout what the manual offers in this model. Volkswagen's also made a lot of chassis changes to the GLI, including a new Multi-link rear suspension, retuned springs and dampers, and also a lowered ride height. And it adds up to a car that corners better than a regular Jetta. But what really brings this car down is steering that's lifeless, it doesn't offer a lot of feedback for the driver. So it really kind of diminishes the overall potential that this car has. Changes to the interior include a padded dashboard, and also a lot of red accent stitching, but there are still the downmarket plastics, that a lot of people complained about with the regular Jetta, in this car, especially on the doors. Now, if you step up to the autobahn version of the GLI, and that's the one we have here, you get features like a sunroof, dual zone automatic climate control, Fender premium audio, and also leatherette seating, so simulated leather seats. And these sports seats are pretty comfortable. They're bolstered, but they don't grip you too tightly. The GLI's backseat is pretty roomy, and the trunk is also pretty spacious. It's not a lot different than the regular Jetta. And while the car overall is pretty refined, it really doesn't deliver as much sport as I was expecting. And I think consumers are going to expect to, especially when for similar money, you can buy a Mazdaspeed3 or a Subaru Impreza WRX, that really delivers in the handling department. <v Announcer>For more car related news, go to cars.com or our blog kicking tires.net.