THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: The Jetta GLI has few flaws and offers a lot of car for the money.
- What’s Worst: The paddle shifters and sunroof are both not necessary.
- What’s Interesting: The headlights that shift 13 degrees just before you make a turn.
‘Nice car, brother!’
It had been a long time since a car I had out for a test drive received a verbal compliment, especially when I was just stopped for gas.
But he was right. My tester for the week, the 2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI, is a nice car in so many ways.
I first started driving Jettas 10 years ago. I loved them and my family loved them. We use to call them the TARDIS. For you non-Dr. Who fans the TARDIS is the name of the spaceship the doctor travels in because it is much larger on the inside than the outside, (look it up).
That’s what the Jetta was. A compact car that seemed to have more room than it should on the inside. And 10 years later, nothing has changed.
There is still plenty of room for five adults and as much luggage as you would require. In fact, you could probably thrown in an extra golf bag and still have room in the trunk for more luggage.
But the Jetta has grown more sophisticated over those 10 years as well.
Let’s start with the Bi-Xenon headlights with an Adaptive Front-Light system. The headlights are about the best I have seen. But turn the wheel slightly and the headlights move 13 degrees in the direction you are turning.
You can see the area you are turning into brighter just as you start your turn. Those lights came in handy on a dark drive home on Hwy. 115 after winning a little bit of money at the horse races at Kawartha Downs in Fraserville, just south of Peterborough.
The next bit of technology that stood out was the Park Distance Control.
Besides the on-screen camera that gives you a visual cue of any objects around the car, sensors beep a warning if you get too close to an object. What really caught my attention was it worked when I pulled into a parking lot that had the small concrete barriers about six inches tall.
A few times in my own car I pulled into a spot, only to misjudge that small barrier and run over it. Not with this GLI. The sensors warned me about that barrier so I could stop before doing any damage to the front grill.
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My GLI tester for the week featured a 2.0-litre TSI engine that produced 210 hp and 207 lb/ft of torque.
Every bit of that torque is needed when you put your foot to the floor on this Jetta and have it throw you back into your seat as it blasts off. It’s even more thrilling when you throw it into sport mode.
The engine is matched to a six-speed DSG automatic transmission that comes with paddler shifters that frankly I have never seen a use for. If you want to handle the shifting, buy a Jetta with a manual transmission.
I started this review talking about the interior of the Jetta which I think is one of the most attractive in its class.
The black interior with the red stitching is a standout and the ambient lighting is very noticeable.
Volkswagen’s also have one of the best instrument clusters and I am a big fan of the 6.3-inch touchscreen with a proximity sensor that pulls up additional information as you move your hand towards it.
All this style and technology comes with a price. My tester was priced at $36,395. Freight and PDI add another $1,625 and air conditioning exercise tax adds another $100.
Not cheap but you get a lot of car for that money.
Last year I had a VW Golf for a week and said it was a comfortable car to drive, like having a hot bowl of soup on a cold day.
Add a few hot and tangy spices to that bowl and you have the Jetta GLI.
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2017 Volkswagen Jetta GLI
BODY STYLE: Sport compact sedan
DRIVE METHOD: Front-wheel-drive
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbo inline four-cylinder engine (210 hp and 207 lb/ft of torque) with six-speed DSG automatic transmission with Tiptronic.
FUEL ECONOMY: (Regular) 9.9/7.2L/100km (city/hwy)
CARGO CAPACITY: 444 litres in trunk.
PRICE: Base price $34,995, as tested, $36,395.