2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI: $148 – Road Test

Today’s sporty compact sedan segment is down to a few: the Honda Civic Si, the Hyundai Elantra N-Line and, of course, the Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Since these are economy cars at their core, it’s important to know how much each horsepower is worth under the hood. For the Civic Si ($35,645, 200 horsepower), it costs $177 per power unit. For the Elantra N Line ($29,574, 201 horsepower), we’re talking $147, while the GLI ($33,645, 228 horsepower) is $148.

A little red

For 2022, Volkswagen is giving the GLI a mid-life refresh. Launched in 2019, like the Jetta it came from, it needs an update. True to the brand’s habits, the changes are small and show themselves especially in the front. First of all, we notice the arrival of a redesigned grille and a new bumper. The latter includes two air intakes circled in red for a sportier look. Otherwise, the only change can be seen in the black lower section of the rear bumper with a dimpled texture. On the GLI 2022, there are 18-inch 5-double-spoke “Sevilla” type rims painted black. With its “raised” blue, red accents and twin exhaust pipes, the GLI has an assertive look that’s quite different from the regular Jetta. In terms of lighting, there is no change, and since this is a GLI, everything is LED. However, it should be noted that the front headlamps illuminate very low, which limits visibility at night. A patch is needed, at least in the trial version. The overall assembly quality is pretty decent.

A new steering wheel

Inside, it’s pretty much the status quo except for the next-generation steering wheel found on Volkswagen’s latest products. Although it’s not bad aesthetically speaking, I prefer the old one with its round hub and, above all, real buttons on the temples. In 2022, we find ourselves between buttons and touchpads. It is less ergonomic. For the rest, the GLI is well equipped with fully digital instrumentation with multiple tables that vary according to our preferences. The infotainment system still offers a modest 8-inch display and little variation in functionality. Fortunately, it is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The overall style is very angular. To brighten it up, we get textured applique on the dashboard and on the doors, mood lighting and topstitching on the doors. Otherwise, everything is black and has a strong presence of plastic. At least the assembly is serious.

While we are in the presence of a GLI, the seats offer a little more support than a Jetta. This method is more or less successful. The support for the middle of the back and the lumbar is not enough. After a few hours on the road, I felt tired in my lower back. In the back, that’s one of the great advantages of the GLI, the interior space. Adult occupants will be comfortable with ample clearance. In the trunk, too, it is large at 399 liters, but we give up (somewhat) to the competition: the Civic Si is 408 liters, the Elantra N Line, at 402 liters.

Lively, but obedient

The mechanics of the GLI are unchanged. We keep the turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that generates 228 horsepower and produces 258 lb-ft of torque. This is its advantage over the Civic Si and Elantra N Line, which only offer 200 and 201 horsepower respectively. I must admit that the difference is not particularly noticeable between the three models. I felt the power was good, but I wish the engine had more personality.

Volkswagen has done its homework when it comes to other mechanical parts. First, the version we tested came with a 6-speed manual transmission, a necessity in this segment. While the clutch calibration is flawless, I must admit that I would like the gear lever to be more communicative and offer more mechanical resistance between gears. There, it’s done with your fingers, it’s less dynamic as far as I’m concerned. Those who don’t want to manage the gearbox can also enjoy a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic for an extra $1,400. Furthermore

The manual allows you to play with the engine’s speed to get the most out of it; however, I still wonder why Volkswagen doesn’t put the GTI’s 2.0-liter under the hood. The car is more than capable of taking it, and it will provide that extra oomph that I love behind the wheel. In addition, the addition of a limited-slip differential limits the possibility of torque steer. The latter also adapts according to driving modes. Precise and offering pleasant resistance, it contributes greatly to the pleasure experienced behind the wheel of the GLI. Obviously, a dynamic car must have impeccable behavior on the road, and this is the case of the GLI. Suspensions revisited compared to the Jetta allow excellent stability in turns. Despite the poor state of the roads and the stability of the suspension components, there is no lack of comfort. Even though it is a dynamic version of the Jetta, it still manages to maintain a reasonable fuel consumption of just 6.8 liters/100 kilometers.


The 2022 Volkswagen Jetta GLI is still a good buy in the affordable sporty compact sedan segment. At a charge of $33,645, therefore only $148 per unit of electricity, it is very interesting. The quality is there, and the reliability is standard. Plus, maintenance costs are decent, and the reputation of the GLI name helps maintain good resale value. Basically, except for a few details, it’s hard to fault the GLI. Therefore, we recommend it.

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