The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI gets a 10-horsepower increase and the addition of Car-Net, VW’s new telematics system that allows you to create a link between your car and your iPhone or Android phone so you can do things like get restaurant locations, remotely unlock your car doors, and get alerts and other information from your car.
Although it’s sold as a separate nameplate, the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is essentially the highest level of trim available for the Volkswagen Jetta. The GLI takes many of its sporty cues from its hatchback brother, the VW GTI.
Standard equipment on the base GLI includes 17-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, keyless entry, air-conditioning, full power accessories, heated mirrors, height-adjustable and power-reclining front sport seats with adjustable driver lumbar support, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system with a touchscreen interface, satellite radio, a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod interface. Volkswagen’s new Car-Net telematics system is also standard.
The GLI Autobahn adds 18-inch wheels, a sunroof, heated windshield-washer nozzles, a six-way power-adjustable driver seat, automatic climate control, a cooling glovebox, heated front seats, leatherette vinyl upholstery and a premium nine-speaker Fender audio system.
If you equip your GLI Autobahn with the navigation system package, it will also come with a touchscreen navigation system with a rearview camera, bi-xenon headlights with Audi-like LED accent lights, and keyless ignition/entry. A rear lip spoiler is an optional add-on for all GLIs, and black-painted 18-inch wheels are available for the base model.
The 2014 Volkwagen Jetta GLI’s interior is pleasant thanks to a few upgrades over the regular Jetta, including some higher-quality materials. The rear-seat area is large enough for full-size adults to sit comfortably and the 15.5-cubic-foot trunk is one of the roomiest in the class. The split rear seat features a center pass-through and also folds down for even more room if you need it.
Overall, the Jetta GLI is very comfortable and quiet, and interior furnishings were nice for the price but nothing to write home about. The massive backseat and trunk, though, were worthy of praise.
The 2014 Jetta GLI is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine good for 210 hp and 207 pound-feet of torque at the front wheels. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a six-speed auto-manual, known as DSG, is optional. Expect a zero to 60 mph time of around 7 seconds.
EPA-estimated fuel economy is 26 mpg combined (23 city/33 highway) with the manual and 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway) with the DSG.
Powertrain and Drive
The 2.0-liter turbo engine makes the Jetta GLI feel quick around town and on fast-moving highways. Engine sound was also surprisingly rewarding from the GLI paired to a conventional six-speed manual. The manual was very enjoyable to shift and remarkably easy to drive thanks to it’s light clutch and hill-hold feature, which keeps the car from rolling back when you’re stopped on inclines.
Although precise, the 2014 Jetta GLI’s steering isn’t very sharp when in the twisties. Braking ability and overall cornering are both a bit lacking as well. As a livelier Jetta sedan, though, the GLI is a solid upgrade. Ride comfort is excellent and the cabin is surprisingly quiet.
The 2014 Jetta GLI feels a bit more grown up than its aforementioned more spritely hatchback brother. Unfortunately, the GLI is also not nearly as entertaining to drive or as well trimmed as the GTI. That’s not to say the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is not fun to drive. It’s more than entertaining, thanks to its powerful turbocharged engine, precise steering and steady handling. I’m just not convinced it’s all that much more fun than the standard Jetta. With Volkswagen offering a new 1.8-liter turbocharged engine on regular Jettas, the upgraded 2.0-liter turbo engine in the GLI just doesn’t bump the cars’ driving dynamics that much.
In general I’d be inclined to push friends toward the four-door GTI hatchback, which is nearly as spacious and much more engaging to drive. The 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is one of only a few small to midsize sedans with sporty aspirations. If you’re really out for performance, though, the 2014 Subaru Impreza WRX sedan is going to be much quicker and handles better in the twisties, comfort and cabin sound being its main detractors. Even the new Nissan Altima offers the 2014 Volkswagen Jetta GLI tough competition.