The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is about as satisfying as moderately priced sports sedans get. Volkswagen’s recipe is simple and well-executed. Spawned from the regular Jetta (reviewed separately), the high-performance variant enjoys the same spacious interior and large trunk but adds a zestier 228-hp turbo four, an independent rear suspension, and stellar ride-and-handling tuning. This combination makes the GLI quick and agile whether you to shift for yourself with the standard manual transmission or opt for the dual-clutch automatic. While the compact sedan’s interior would benefit from better materials, and its outward appearance will never be called enticing, the rest of the 2022 Jetta GLI is pretty damn great.
What’s New for 2022?
For 2022, the Jetta GLI undergoes a mild makeover that includes a fresher face and updated rear-end styling. While the differences up front are more noticeable, the GLI’s lower back bumper now wears a honeycomb design and has larger dual exhaust pipes that VW says improve the sedan’s soundtrack. The engine and two transmission choices remain the same, but there’s now only one model in the lineup and it’s loaded with a host of standard driver assists and popular features. The GLI’s interior also benefits from a newly designed leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever. The exterior is further enhanced with new wheel designs, a new black appearance package, and it now wears Volkswagen’s new logo.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Previously available in base S or fully loaded Autobahn trim levels, the Jetta GLI is now only offered in a single specification: it now comes standard with all of the upgrades that were once reserved for the Autobahn. This includes adaptive dampers, a digital gauge cluster, leather upholstery, a powerful audio system, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, and wireless charging. Shoppers can still choose between a manual or automatic transmission, but the latter costs extra.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The GLI is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is optional. Regardless of transmission, acceleration is significantly quicker compared with the standard Jetta’s 158-hp engine. In our testing, the automatic-equipped GLI was slightly quicker to 60 mph than the manual version. Still, the stick-shift version was easy and satisfying to row. Our only complaint with the automatic was its hesitance to downshift during spirited cornering. Speaking of corners, the GLI’s specially tuned suspension and sticky summer tires (a no-cost option) help ensure it’s just as athletic as its hatchback equivalent. Likewise, the Jetta GLI provides feelsome steering, strong brakes, and a compliant ride on its standard adaptive dampers.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Since the Jetta GLI shares its turbocharged four-cylinder with two different transmissions, it gets separate fuel-economy ratings. The standard six-speed manual transmission is estimated to earn 26 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Models equipped with the optional seven-speed automatic can expect to see 26 mpg city and 36 mpg highway, according to its government ratings. We tested a GLI with each gearbox on our 75-mph fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, and both achieved an impressive 36 mpg on the highway. For more information about the Jetta GLI’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
While the GLI has the same basic layout and generous passenger space as the standard Jetta, a few bits of red trim spice things up somewhat. We only wish some of the materials that Volkswagen uses in the cabin were of higher quality. Particularly unpleasant is the molded-in stitching on the dashboard as well as the hard and shiny plastic on the doors. At least the GLI has upscale standard features such as a 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster, customizable ambient interior lighting, heated and ventilated front seats, and a panoramic sunroof. The sportiest Jetta is also surprisingly practical. The compact sedan has a massive trunk that managed to hold seven carry-on suitcases.
Infotainment and Connectivity
With an 8.0-inch touchscreen, the Jetta GLI has a user-friendly infotainment system that includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot. Plus, it has a 400-watt, eight-speaker BeatsAudio sound system and wireless device charging.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The Jetta GLI is loaded with standard driver-assistance technology, including automatic high-beams and lane-keeping assist. For more information about the Jetta GLI’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology
- Standard blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Volkswagen has an above-average limited warranty and below-average powertrain coverage. To offset the latter, the company provides some complimentary maintenance.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary maintenance is covered for two years or 20,000 miles