What's In A Letter? The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta GLI

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
The 2015 Volkswagen Jetta GLI.
The difference of a single letter.  In this case, "L" instead of "T".

For the uninitiated, I am drawing a comparison between Volkswagen's GTI (a Golf hatchback) and its GLI (a Jetta sedan). And the truth is, that single letter changes a lot of things.

Side view of 2015 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
2015 Volkswagen Jetta GLI. 
If you think a Jetta is just a Golf with a trunk, you're a generation or two out of sync with current VWs. Despite sharing the GTI's 2-liter, 210-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the two are very different machines, built to different purposes.

The best way to view the GLI is to think of it as the ultimate Jetta.  We like the Jetta, as evidenced by our review about six months ago of the 1.8-liter turbo model.  The GLI adds 40 horsepower, 18-inch alloy wheels, grippier summer tires and brushed metal pedal covers.  It also adds $4,370 to the price ($28,020 instead of $23,650) and deducts one mile per gallon in the city (25 falls to 24) and five on the highway (37 becomes 32).

Interior view of 2015 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
2015 Volkswagen Jetta GLI interior.
For your money, you also get a power sunroof, a very nice audio system and a six-speed DSG Tiptronic automatic transmission, all standard. What you don't get is the GTI's platform and suspension, its handling ability.  Nothing wrong with the GLI, mind you, it is just not as precise.  It is not a GTI with a trunk.  But it is arguably the best VW Jetta money can buy, so complete as standard that ours came without a single option (as-tested price with delivery, $28,840).  And that is quite a good thing indeed.

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