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2019 GLI Review

AERO

Go Kart Newbie
Location
SE of Denver
I recently purchased a 2019 35th Anniversary edition Jetta GLI. I will provide my quick review and thoughts on it for anyone who is interested.


My previous car was a 2017 GTI Sport with the manual transmission. I absolutely loved it and had nothing but positive experiences with it. I sold the GTI for the GLI for two reasons; I needed a larger backseat for my growing kids and I didn't know when I bought it that the stock clutch wasn't up to holding big power.


I bought the GLI here in Denver and I was able to get a really good deal on the car. I believe I was able to get such a deal for a couple reason. 1) I am a loyal VW customer (this is my 4th new VW), 2) I expressed interest in buying another car for my wife in the near future and 3) I was able to get multiple dealers out bidding each other. In the end I got a 35th Anniversary edition with DSG and the Pure Gray paint for $24,000. The MSRP was $29,220. The car was advertised on the dealers site for $25,800.

The 35th Anniversary edition is mostly just an apperance package similar to the Rabbit edition GTI. It included unique wheels, black roof, black mirrors and a bunch of stupid 35th Anniversary badges. Aside from the wheels, the only part that much matters is the DCC. It has configurable suspension, steering, diff and fake engine noise.

For the 2019 model year you can only get DCC with the 35th edition, but I believe starting in 2020 DCC will be standard with the Autobahn model. For 2020 there will just be a an S and Autobahn trim.

With all that out of the way, I can say that the GLI drives more like a GTI than not. It shares a substantial number of important parts with the MK7 GTI. Same exact engine, transmission, VAQ Diff, brakes and steering wheel. I mention the steering wheel because it immediately made me feel like I was driving the same car. In normal driving, I really don't notice the extra size at all. The GLI is only about 100 lbs heavier however it does have a longer wheel base. I'm no Randy Pobst, but I really don't feel much of a difference with the longer wheel base either.

I did take the car out to my local racetrack where I have driven quite a few different cars and I pleased with how it performed. The factory spec all season tires certainly such, but that's how VW seems to roll. Supposedly summer tires were optional for the GLI but the dealer had nothing but all seasons. Oh well...

On the track the car seemed to accelerate just as well as my GTI and I have to say that the DSG does a nice job on the track when its in Sport mode. Sport mode holds the gears low and worked really well on the track.

I attempted to disable stability control, but I found that when you got the car sliding, there is a layer of stability control that couldn't but turned off and I could feel it occasionally applying brake to try to arrest the slide. This was not very intrusive, but it certainly isn't great for lap times. For track duty, the car badly needs summer performance tires but I was very happy with it. I turned very similar lap times to my '17 GTI Sport.

As for the rest of the car, there is undoubtedly some cost cutting. The base Jetta is a cheaper car than the base Golf and the GTI/GLI are no different. I found that most of the cost cutting in the cabin is pretty minor stuff and would likely only be noticed by someone who has been in so many new VWs. Examples of noticeable cost cutting include a cheaper headlight switch, slightly less padded door panels, no satellite radio, and no hood struts just the old fashion stick. Its a cheaper car and on close inspection it shows. However, there are no real positive things about the interior too. For example, it has 10 color ambient lighting and works really well. There are colors tied to the different driving modes which is pretty silly and gimmicky but I like it. For example if you switch from ECO mode to Sport mode the entire interior switches from blue to red. I think its a nice touch. As I said earlier, it has the same steering wheel from the GTI which is fantastic as its probably the best wheel out there. The arm rest is nicely padded, the dash design is nice having the infotainment screen angled towards the driver. The Autobahn model has a lot of extra content that mine does not. The 35th Anniversary edition that I have is based on the S model and not the Autobahn. Autobahn includes heated and cooled leather seats, sunroof, larger infotainment screen and the digital cockpit, and satellite radio.

All in all I really like the car. Its a real bargain compared to the GTI and offers a much better back seat. This is the first GLI that really is a sedan version of the GTI. The MK6 GLI had older 2.0T with only 207 ft-lbs and no fancy front diff. This GLI is the real deal.



Oh yeah... forgot to mention; the seats suck.
 

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GTI Jake

Autocross Champion
Location
Charlotte, NC
One of my best friends bought a GLI autobahn recently, the added options are definitely worth it (heated/cooled seats are awesome)

I believe he paid 27k otd, but his is a manual
 

Chogokin

Autocross Newbie
Location
So Cal
Car(s)
GTI Sport | Audi A3
Looks like a pretty nice ride. The radio placement looks a bit odd though. I was looking at the GLI prices and was surprised to see how low they were. It looks like you scored a good deal.

When I bought my GTI back in 2017...I also looked at the GLI that was available at the time...until I found out that it was still a Mk6. If I was buying today...the choice would be a bit harder. The money saved would buy a lot of the mods I currently have.
 

chillax

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Wi
Car(s)
18 GTI SE plaid
Your thoughts seem to line up pretty well with some professional reviews I've seen. GTI performance with a cheaper interior. For the lower price and extra room that is probably a good trade-off.
 

Sparky589

Go Kart Champion
Haven't had a chance to drive a Mk7 GLI but I'll agree with you on the seats. They simply don't cut it for me, which is a real crying shame because the GTI seats are lovely.
 

chillax

Drag Racing Champion
Location
Wi
Car(s)
18 GTI SE plaid
Haven't had a chance to drive a Mk7 GLI but I'll agree with you on the seats. They simply don't cut it for me, which is a real crying shame because the GTI seats are lovely.

What is the difference less bolstering?
 

Sparky589

Go Kart Champion
What is the difference less bolstering?
They are notably wider, if I had to say it would be at about the level of my stock TSI seats. I get that the GLI is marketed as a less hardcore alternative to the GTI, but on what is ostensibly a "performance" vehicle they just don't feel special.
 

AERO

Go Kart Newbie
Location
SE of Denver
They are notably wider, if I had to say it would be at about the level of my stock TSI seats. I get that the GLI is marketed as a less hardcore alternative to the GTI, but on what is ostensibly a "performance" vehicle they just don't feel special.

The GLI seats are actually just standard Jetta seats. They aren't bad seats, but GTI seats are just really good. I'd love to get some used cloth plaid GTI seats. I don't know if they would be a direct bolt in replacement though.
 

JC_451

Autocross Champion
Location
NJ
Car(s)
2017 GTI Sport
No satellite radio sounds like an awesome option.

2 years later and Sirius still won't leave me alone [emoji23]

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
 

vj123

Drag Racing Champion
Location
The Detroit
Car(s)
2019 GTI Rabbit
Looks like its a great option for a person who is in the market for a sedan.

Congrats on your new ride.
 

jrdigioia

Passed Driver's Ed
Location
Burbs of denver
Nice review, congrats on the new ride. Seats would be a deal breaker for me though.
Which dealer did you wind up going with?
 
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