When it first debuted in 1984, the Volkswagen GLI was dubbed a “GTI with a trunk” and its mission was simple: to deliver an accessible German performance sedan.
The car had to be undeniably fun to drive without sacrificing any of the usability and efficiency that drivers expected from the brand. While technology, efficiency, safety, and—of course—performance have come leaps and bounds in 35 years, the mission of the Volkswagen sixth-generation hot sedan remains exactly the same.
The 2020 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is available in two trim levels: S and Autobahn.
The Jetta GLI introduces new technology for 2020 with the next-generation Car-Net® telematics system, and all models are equipped with in-car Wi-Fi capability when you subscribe to a data plan. Autobahn models add standard wireless charging and the DCC® adaptive damping system for the 2020 model year, along with an optional Black Package which includes 18-inch black aluminum-alloy wheels, a black roof, black mirror caps, and a black spoiler.
Pricing for the Jetta GLI with 6-speed manual transmission starts at $26,245. The 7-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic transmission starts at $27,045 Destination charges for all Jetta GLI models is $920.
While the 2020 GLI features the MQB architecture, coupe-like profile of the Jetta, it adds sporty styling cues that hint at its beefed-up powertrain.
Featuring a sport suspension, the GLI sits 0.6 inches lower than a regular Jetta, giving it a more planted look.
The front bumper features a lower front spoiler and larger air intake than the regular Jetta. A standard compliment of full-LED lighting, including front LED projector headlights, LED DRLs and side mirror-mounted turn signals, as well as LED taillights, sets the GLI apart from its competition. Featuring a red accent stripe, the wide grille on the Jetta GLI is filled with a honeycomb pattern that gives a subtle nod to previous GLI variants as well as its spiritual sibling, the Golf GTI.
Unique lower side skirts carry the line to a more aggressive rear bumper, which features LED taillights, a finned diffusor and dual chrome exhaust tips.
Above the beltline, the GLI receives black window trim (rather than chrome), a spoiler, a “GLI” flitzer and rear badging. A panoramic power-tilt-and-slide sunroof is standard equipment on Jetta GLI Autobahn.
Befitting the aggressive appeal of the Jetta GLI, wide 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with a diamond-turned surface are mated to low-profile 225/45 R18 all-season tires. Golf R front brakes, with red-painted calipers, are standard equipment on every GLI.
The optional Black Package on Autobahn models adds 18-inch black wheels, a black roof, black mirror caps, and a black spoiler.
The sporty GLI variant mimics the driver-focused cockpit of the Jetta.
The instruments and infotainment system are arranged in an easy-to-read horizontal orientation, and the center console is angled toward the driver. Meanwhile, design elements from the exterior are repeated in the cabin for a touch of sportiness, and premium soft-touch materials are used throughout.
A black interior sets the stage for sporty details to pop throughout.
Red stitching is used on the steering wheel, shifter, armrest and floormats. Comfort sport seats feature red stitching both on the cloth seats on S models, as well as the leather seating surfaces on Autobahn models.
Diamond flag décor trim, black headliner, stainless steel pedal caps and a leather-wrapped sport multifunction steering wheel are standard on every model. DSG-equipped cars gain paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel.
Jetta GLI offers a number of premium features as standard equipment. KESSY® keyless entry and push-button start, automatic on/off headlights, rain sensing wipers, an automatically dimming rearview mirror and dual-zone Climatronic® automatic climate control are standard. Heated front seats are also standard and Autobahn models offer standard ventilation on front seats as well. GLI S features 6-way adjustable drivers’ seats, while Autobahn models add adjustable lumbar and a power driver’s seat with memory function. Autobahn models also feature standard remote start and a vehicle alarm.
Every GLI features a 10-color LED ambient lighting system. Coordinated with the Jetta Drive Mode Selection feature, the system provides white light in the Normal profile, red light in the Sport profile and blue light in the Eco profile. The driver can set any of the 10 colors using Manual or Custom mode. In addition, the doorsills feature red backlit inserts.
Every Jetta model offers standard Driver Personalization with up to four driver settings. Dependent on trim, customizable features include: driver seat memory, drive mode selection, driver assistance system preferences, climate control, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit arrangement, ambient lighting color, radio presets, and more.
BeatsAudio®. To appeal to music lovers, the GLI Autobahn features the BeatsAudio system. This setup showcases a 12-channel, 400-watt amplifier, digital signal processing and eight speakers and a subwoofer.
Volkswagen Digital Cockpit. The Jetta GLI Autobahn features the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit as standard equipment. The 10.25-inch screen replaces the traditional instrument panel, and the customizable digital display’s 133 DPI resolution renders details with extreme precision.
The driver can select a “Classic” display profile or set options manually, including: gear, speed, estimated fuel economy, distance, travel time, assistance systems, estimated range, compass, elevation, audio, and acceleration. Additionally, data such as telephone contact images and CD covers can also be displayed in the Digital Cockpit display.
MIB II Infotainment. All 2020 Jetta GLI models feature the innovative Volkswagen MIB II touchscreen infotainment system. The display utilizes a capacitive-touch sensor (as in smartphone and tablet technology) rather than the more common resistive touchscreens that require pressure, enabling gesture controls like swiping and even pinch-zooming.
The GLI S model is equipped with the Composition Color unit, which features a 6.5-inch capacitive touchscreen display and six speakers. The infotainment system also offers SD card and USB-C (two ports) multimedia interfaces, as well as standard Bluetooth® technology for compatible devices. App-Connect smartphone integration for compatible devices is standard, and offers users the ability to run select smartphone apps directly on the vehicle’s display through services such as Apple CarPlay®, Android AutoTM and MirrorLink®.
The GLI Autobahn model is equipped with a glass-covered 8.0-inch capacitive touchscreen display with the Composition Media unit, which offers two USB-A ports (second is charge only), Voice Control, SiriusXM® radio for a three month trial period, HD Radio, and a CD player. The Composition Media unit also has the ability to send and receive SMS text messages via Bluetooth with compatible devices and can pair two phones simultaneously.
Since its debut for the 2014 model year, Volkswagen Car-Net has allowed Volkswagen owners to get connected to their vehicles. For model year 2020, Car-Net moves into the next generation of integration, with an updated mobile app, a long list of no-charge services for five years, and new subscription options. Car-Net Services will be offered in four areas: Remote Access, Safe & Secure, Hotspot, and Guide & Inform.
Car-Net Remote Access gives owners the ability to interact with their vehicle from miles away via the mobile app. It is offered at no additional charge for five years from the date of vehicle purchase. Features include remote start and stop (if equipped), remote door lock and unlock, remote honk and flash of lights, last parked location, and remote vehicle status display, which provides information on fuel level, mileage, and door and window status.
Available later this year, VW Car-Net app for smartwatch (supports select Apple Watch® and AndroidTM Wear operating systems) allows VW customers to control a host of functions, available through the iPhone® and AndroidTM apps, directly from their wrist. Smartwatch wearers can keep tabs on their vehicle from afar, remotely locking and unlocking doors, remotely starting their vehicle, and viewing the status of doors, windows and sunroof (open or closed). These consumers can also find a parked vehicle more quickly and receive alerts with a compatible smartwatch.
Volkswagen owners with factory-installed navigation can send destinations or points of interest directly to their car from the app, helping to save time. Coming later this year, owners will also be able to connect their VW Car-Net account to compatible smart home devices to send voice commands to their vehicle to check the fuel level or remote start the engine.
Powered by Parkopedia, the Parking Information feature can help make owners’ lives easier by locating off-street parking information. Through the Navigate tab on the app, users can click the “P” icon to show available parking locations, either in the immediate vicinity or near a Point of Interest. Clicking on a specific location will display the address, hours of operation and pricing. Users can also send the location to their car’s navigation system, if so equipped, by clicking the “Send to My VW” button.
Vehicle Health Reports can provide owners easy access to diagnostic information. Reports generate automatically each month after enrollment and are sent directly to the email address in the owner’s profile; owners can also request updated reports anytime through the mobile app. When it’s time for scheduled service, Car-Net can not only notify the customer, but also provides a simple way to schedule a dealer visit.
Family Guardian services and Roadside Call Assist can provide added peace-of-mind no matter who is driving. Speed alert notifies the owner when the pre-determined maximum speed limit is exceeded. Boundary alert lets the owner know when the vehicle has traveled outside of a pre-set virtual boundary. Curfew alert notifies the owner if the vehicle is driven while curfew alert is on. Valet alert alerts if the vehicle is driven more than 0.2 miles from the valet drop-off location. The Car-Net app allows users to control who receives notifications by designating primary and secondary users, with varying levels of control and functionality for each. Notifications can come in the form of text messages, emails, or push notifications from the mobile app itself. If the vehicle is disabled, Roadside Call Assist is available at the touch of the wrench button.
The DriveView™ program is new for 2020. By enrolling in this program, Car-Net users may be eligible for discounted rates from some of the top automotive insurance companies in the country. This program can also help Car-Net users monitor their driving by tracking activities like night driving, hard braking, idle time, and excess speed. These factors all contribute to an overall driving score, which is visible within the mobile app.
Car-Net Safe & Secure is a paid subscription service that includes Information Assistance, Emergency Assistance, Automatic Crash Notification, Anti-Theft Alert, and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance. The subscription is $99 per year before taxes and fees, and automatically renews annually at the end of the subscription term, unless cancelled. Information Assistance—accessed through the i-call button within the vehicle—allows the driver to speak to a Car-Net agent for support needs, such as points of interest and account services. Emergency Assistance can be accessed through the SOS button in the vehicle, and, if a cellular connection can be established, puts the driver in contact with the Car-Net service center, who can direct emergency responders to the vehicle’s location and notify the user’s Emergency Contact. Provided a cellular connection can be established, Automatic Crash Notification can help automatically notify an operator who can quickly contact first responders in the event of a collision. Anti-Theft Alert sends a push notification to the user if the vehicle’s anti-theft alarm is triggered, and Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance uses Car-Net to assist law enforcement with locating the vehicle in the event that it is stolen.
Car-Net Hotspot allows passengers to access the internet with up to four connected devices simultaneously, including tablets, smartphones, laptops, gaming devices, and more— at 4G LTE-enabled speed. Existing Verizon Wireless customers with an unlimited mobile data plan can simply add their Volkswagen vehicle as a new line item to their existing plan, non-Verizon customers can set up a prepaid plan for $20/month before taxes and fees.
Car-Net Guide & Inform offers an enhanced navigation and infotainment experience for VW owners with a factory-installed navigation system. Drivers can access traffic reports, fuel prices, sports scores, movie times, and weather data as part of the three-month SiriusXM Travel Link trial. Car-Net enrollment and subscription is not required.
The Jetta GLI is powered by a Volkswagen 2.0-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® 4-cylinder engine, making 228 horsepower (achieved with premium fuel) and 258 pound-feet of torque.
This engine, shared with the Golf GTI, features variable valve timing on the intake and exhaust sides, as well as variable exhaust valve lift.
The power is taken to the front wheels via a standard 6-speed manual transmission, with an available 7-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. Automatic transmission models come standard with a Start/Stop system designed to help improve fuel efficiency. This technology stops the engine during idle when the brake pedal is held (such as when waiting at a stop light). When the brake pedal is released, the engine restarts. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the GLI is 25/32/28 mpg (city/highway/combined) when equipped with the automatic transmission. When equipped with the manual transmission, the EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25/33/28.
The TSI engine features innovative solutions such as water-cooled exhaust gas routing through the cylinder head to the turbocharger (to help reduce full-load fuel consumption) and a dual injection system with direct and multi-port injection. Thanks to its fully electronic coolant control system, the engine also offers efficient thermal management with a short warm-up phase; this helps reduce friction and decrease fuel consumption.
Built on the award-winning MQB chassis, the Jetta GLI features a MacPherson strut suspension mated with a multi-link independent rear suspension, the latter of which is unique to GLI variants.
Featuring dual anti-roll bars, sport-tuned gas-filled shock absorbers, along with stiffer springs and a 0.6-inch lower stance than regular Jetta models, the sport suspension delivers a performance-focused ride without sacrificing comfort.
Further underlining the high-performance capabilities of the Jetta GLI are larger brakes compared to the standard Jetta and the sophisticated VAQ electronically-controlled front limited-slip differential, both shared with other Volkswagen performance models. The front brakes are shared with the Golf GTI and Golf R, using 13.4-inch diameter vented discs. The rear brakes, using 11.8-inch diameter discs, are also larger than on standard Jetta models. While larger brakes can provide more stopping power, the VAQ differential hydraulically varies torque to each front wheel, working in tandem with the XDS® electronic differential lock (which uses individual brake-force distribution to help prevent understeer) to help create neutral handling and limit wheelspin.
From a structural standpoint, the MQB platform provides extremely high body rigidity, resulting from a combination of ultra-high-strength and ultra-high-strength hot-stamped steels. This allows for very precise steering, high vehicle responsiveness and optimal ride comfort. Ultra-high-strength steel is used in areas of the vehicle such as the side sills, as well as the side members and cross members of the body. Ultra-high-strength Hot-formed steel is used for the B-pillars, center tunnel, lower bulkhead, rear side members, and roof side members. This results in an extremely comfortable and agile car.
Drive Mode Selection. As on GTI and Golf R models, the Drive Mode Selection feature is standard equipment. This system has four modes in non-DCC® vehicles: “Normal,” “Sport,” “Eco,” and “Custom.” Normal mode gives a balanced drive experience, while Sport is tuned for a more dynamic throttle and shift response, tighter steering, and a more spirited exhaust note. Eco mode optimizes shift points, throttle response and climate control settings for improved fuel economy compared to other drive modes. Custom allows a driver to tailor the steering, throttle, differential, engine note, and climate control settings. The Autobahn model with DCC allows the driver to adjust damping settings and adds a fifth “Comfort” mode.
DCC. The GLI Autobahn features standard DCC adaptive damping system that gives the sport sedan the optimal balance between excellent handling and superior ride comfort. DCC achieves this by managing the suspension’s rebound and compression rates individually, helping to improve vehicle dynamics.
Progressive variable-ratio steering. Unique to the Jetta lineup, variable-ratio electromechanical power steering is standard on GLI, and helps contribute to its agile nature. Requiring only 2.1 turns from lock to lock, the steering noticeably reduces effort when maneuvering and parking, while remaining direct and responsive in the center position when traveling at highway speeds.
To help protect occupants, the Jetta GLI provides a combination of both passive and active safety systems. It features six airbags as standard (front and side airbags for front passengers and side curtain airbags for outboard seating positions), along with a number of electronic safety systems, such as an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
A standard feature on the 2020 Jetta GLI is Volkswagen’s Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. This builds on the premise that a collision is rarely a single, instantaneous action, but rather a series of events that follow the initial impact—the most significant of which can cause additional collisions. The Automatic Post-Collision Braking System helps address this, in certain crash scenarios, by applying the brakes when a primary collision is detected by the airbag sensors, thus potentially reducing residual kinetic energy and, in turn, the chance of additional damage.
The Jetta GLI also includes Volkswagen’s Intelligent Crash Response System that shuts off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and switches on the hazard lights if the car is involved in certain types of collisions.
All Jetta GLI models feature a standard rearview camera.
To meet the demands of American drivers, the 2020 Jetta GLI offers a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance technology. Standard features include Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert.
Front Assist, standard on all models, is intended to warn drivers of potential frontal collisions (Forward Collision Warning) with vehicles, and in some cases provide automatic braking assistance (Autonomous Emergency Braking).
Within physical system limits, Forward Collision Warning warns the driver of potential critical front-end collision situations, both acoustically and visually by a warning symbol in the instrument cluster if the car is traveling above 18 mph. Furthermore, an automatic jolt of the brakes can warn the driver of the danger. If the driver fails to brake, or if the car is traveling below 18 mph, Autonomous Emergency Braking is activated to help slow the vehicle. If the brake pedal is applied but the driver brakes too lightly, the brake pressure is increased by the system (Braking Support).
Blind Spot Monitor is standard on all Jetta GLI models. Blind Spot Monitor uses two radar sensors at the rear of the vehicle to scan the approaching traffic and is intended to warn drivers of the presence of other vehicles in adjacent lanes. If the driver uses the turn signal to indicate a lane change while a vehicle is detected in a blind spot, the system utilizes a flashing LED symbol in the outer area of the side mirrors. Even if the driver does not use a turn signal, the LED symbol in the mirror will illuminate if a vehicle is detected in the blind spot. The system is designed to help alert drivers in specific situations; stationary objects or oncoming vehicles do not trigger warnings, nor do vehicles more than one lane across away from the vehicle.
The Rear Traffic Alert system, standard on all models, is intended to detect vehicles approaching from the side that may be difficult for the driver to see while reversing. The system offers a 180-degree view of the back of the car with a range of 65 feet, and will present a visual and an acoustic warning, if a potential collision with a crossing vehicle is detected. If the driver does not react, the system can apply the brakes to help mitigate and, in the best case, can prevent a collision. The system is activated by putting the car in reverse.
Warranty & Maintenance
Every 2020 Jetta GLI comes with a Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty and Carefree Maintenance Program. The warranty provides coverage for four years or 50,000-miles (whichever occurs first), and can be transferred to a subsequent owner throughout the remainder of its duration.
The Carefree Maintenance Program provides scheduled maintenance services for 2 years or 20,000 miles (whichever occurs first) at no additional charge, and can be transferred to a subsequent owner throughout the remainder of its duration.
2020 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA GLI 2.0 T AUTOBAHN
TESTDRIVENOW QUICK TAKES
AS SHOWN TOTAL VEHICLE PRICE $31,160.00
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